Nursing homes are never my favorite, with their drab colors and odd-smelling corridors, but when I went caroling recently, I found myself outside the circle of church members singing and instead glancing into a room of an elderly man who had just been given a Christmas card from one of our younger members. This is what I learned.
I looked at a feeble shadow of myself.
His body was gnarled, wrinkled. His features were like a crumbling rock – except this mountain had tears pouring down its face.
The vibrations of his hands hindered him from holding the small Christmas card made out of construction paper.
His room was dark except for the blue flashes from his muted television set. He struggled to hear the sounds the group was making outside of his door. Suddenly, he joined the chorus in the hallway with a quiet, baritone voice.
“Joy to the world! The Lord is come! Let earth receive her King…”
His tear-streaked cheeks were taken over by a broad smile as he lifted his hand a waved to me. I smiled back, strangely warmed in this smelly “home” for those who were so lonely, so forgotten, this week of Christmas.
There are so many whom we pass by.
Even if our message is delivered in the equivalent of a construction paper Christmas card, we all have been called to deliver the message of hope, the message of the gospel, the message that we celebrate year after year. It is not only to those in nursing homes we must share this hope, but to the lost we find in our workplaces, our circle of friends, and even our homes.
That feeble shadow of myself – well, I seem to see that every day now. I see in the eyes of the lost a feeble shadow, a lost shadow in desperate need of a savior. In desperate need of a message of hope delivered to them in their greatest need.
I am strongly aware this Christmas season of the lost and dying around me. My prayers have been long, and my heart especially heavy this year with the names of so many I am not only praying for, but sharing the gospel with.
The gospel is the message of Christmas – it’s not just a baby in a manger, or a star in Bethlehem, or gifts under a tree.
It is the story of a perfect man who was born to die in our place.
One day, I am certain that there will be tears streaming down my rocky face – but I pray they are tears of joy as I think of the gospel – and when I think of those I know have been changed by the gospel this year, and the years to come.