by Cheri Cowell @CheriCowell
Our hearts ripped from our chests as we moved my grandmother into her new home at the assisted living facility, but leaving a pot of boiling water on the stove had been the last straw.
Back at her house we begin the arduous task of cleaning out her home of twenty-seven years. I’m given the job of cleaning the refrigerator and freezer. So many memories of life with my grandmother flood my mind — Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, summers canning fruits and vegetables, and special times spent delivering home-cooked meals to those in need.
I’m jolted from these pleasant memories with the discovery of thirty tiny juice bottles filled with frozen water. Thinking this was more evidence of my grandmother’s senility, I quickly throw them in a large trash bag. It must be tough losing your mind, I say to myself.
A protective covering begins to form over my heart as I complete my assigned task. Like the ice lining the freezer, my heart hardens as I hear laughter coming from the other rooms from reminiscing family members. The sounds that for years fittingly filled my grandmother’s home now seem out of place. How can they laugh at a time like this? I murmur, as I shove the last item into the plastic garbage bag.
Before heading home that evening, I stop to tell my grandmother I will be back soon. Before I can leave, she begins thumbing through a scrapbook while sharing stories of the people in each photograph. Suddenly she halts. She is staring at a picture of herself and a large black man standing by her rose covered trellis. With a wrinkled forehead and set jaw, she turns to me and demands, “Who’s taking care of Melvin?”
“Who’s Melvin, Grandmother?” I ask, almost afraid of the jumbled answer that may come.
“He’s the garbage man. I always leave a frozen bottle of water for him tied to the post by the garbage can. Somebody needs to take care of him now that I’m gone.”
My heart melts. My my grandmother may have been forgetting many important things, but she still remembered what was most important.
For some, garbage men are not worthy of our attention. They operate in the background, insignificant, unnoticed. But they are not insignificant to Jesus. He spent much of His time connecting with those in His day who were considered of no consequence. He urged His disciples to do the same.
“Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me’ (Matthew 25:44-45 NIV).
I want to follow my grandmother’s example. At the very time she was losing all the things she held dear, she took her eyes off herself and saw someone else’s need. Those juice bottles weren’t evidence of her senility; they were evidence of a servant’s heart. A heart that serves the least of these as if they were Jesus.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Ephesians 5:1-2 NASB
About the author: Cheri Cowell is a contributor to When God Calls The Heart to Love. Learn more about her and her other books at www.CheriCowell.com and join her on social media www.Facebook.com/CheriCowell.
Join the conversation: Who are “the least of these” in your neighborhood? How can you reach out to them?