I have spent the past few days watching the tender interaction between two of the most amazing women I have ever met.
My wife and her mother.
Dianne’s 98-year-old mom is actively dying. She has been under Hospice care since January but has rapidly declined in the past few weeks. She now hovers in that strange state between life and death, literally taking her last breaths.
Myrtle isn’t able to fully grasp or embrace all the things Dianne does for her. But I have noticed something profound being lived out in real time. Watching it moves me deeply.
It really doesn’t take much.
Dianne has cared for her mom in so many big ways over the past 15 years she has lived in our home. But it seems now it is these little things matter most. The smallest things seem to help Myrtle feel the love in her daughter’s heart.
A few drops of water to sooth her thirst. Some balm for her dry lips or cream for her fragile skin. A tender hug when she is agitated. A kiss on the cheek when she is anxious. A song to sooth her nerves.
She holds her hand to calm her fear and speaks reassuring words that affirm her life and assure her of her value. She sleeps beside her so Mom understands as best she can in this in-between state that she is not alone.
Taking it all in as I stand ready to help in any way I can, I understand in my deeper parts that this is very much the stuff of Jesus.
This is His heart. These are His hands.
Jesus was man as the Father had dreamed he would be. He was everything God had desired and designed before one pixel of creation was illumined. When the Father imagined a creature who could share in the life and love that was the eternal atmosphere of the Trinity, Jesus was the perfect example of what that looked like.
The Father pointed to Jesus and said, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”
He was saying, “That’s what I meant when I made you!”
Looking back over that life, it is easy to get so absorbed in the big things–the miracles, the suffering, the confrontations, the Passion–that we forget so much of His life was doing little things that changed the ending of many stories.
It didn’t take much to radically alter the way a person felt about themselves or transform how they felt about God.
- He stopped. When a blind man was crying out or a marginalized woman was bleeding out. He stopped. He noticed. He met them in the mess.
- He went. When Jairus told the sad story of his dying daughter, Jesus went. He proved that people mattered more than schedules or plans or…anything.
- He touched. Lepers who had forgotten what touch felt like and beggars who had not been touched with tenderness for too long to remember.
- He wept. When his friends grieved in tears for their dead brother, Jesus let their pain pierce his heart and prompt his tears.
- He spoke. Comforting words of acceptance to the woman caught in adultery laying in shame at his feet and the woman of ill repute washing those same feet with tears.
- He rejoiced. Laughing over the presence of children and dancing when His disciples came back so pumped from their first kingdom adventure.
By these actions Jesus was showing how God felt about us. He was demonstrating what drove Him to the big thing…the cross.
Not one of these things Jesus did was a big thing…but each changed everything.
And Jesus passed the baton of these works and words to us–His frail and imperfect followers. “Go and do likewise,” was His epilogue to the story of the Good Samaritan. “Do as I have done to you,” He said after He washed the Disciples dirty feet. It wasn’t a big thing, but so real and powerful that to this day it embodies what it means to serve another.
He was emphatic about this, “…if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” (Matthew 10:42) Again near the end of his life, “‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:40)
Each of Jesus’ small actions lived out in the rub of our lives trumpets a huge message from the depths of the Father’s heart:
- When you stop and make time for someone in pain you display that they deserve compassion.
- When you walk with someone through seasons of fear you show that they deserve companions.
- When you reach out and touch others who feel rejected and set aside you demonstrate that they are worth the risk.
- When you weep alongside those who mourn life’s losses you exhibit that they are worth the cost.
- When you speak life to those whose hearts have believed the lies of the Enemy you underline that they should always have a voice.
- When you celebrate and rejoice over the little wins of the little ones you expose how they should always be valued.
And when you spend your waking moments tending the little needs of a dying mother with a tender servant’s heart, you too make God’s dream come true.
He sees and says, “That’s what I meant!”