My Labor Day weekend included a snappy trip to Mississippi to celebrate my Aunt Neda’s 90th birthday. We threw her a big party in the Methodist church fellowship hall. I think the whole town showed up to honor a woman who has lived the bulk of her 90 years right there in the tiny town of Inverness, population of less than a thousand.
I saw her classmates and cousins and cute-as-a-bug great-grands. And then I saw Jesus.
My aunt’s health and mobility has plummeted in the last few years, so much that she had to take on some daily help. God blessed Aunt Neda with a gentle and kind-hearted helper named Debbie. Like Aunt Neda, her life revolves around the simple living of Sunflower County. I suppose Debbie’s life became much more lively since taking on Aunt Neda. For 90, she’s pretty spunky.
As the only person of color in a reception room, I’m sure Debbie felt a little awkward, but she sat on a padded pew next to the piano with her head held high and waited while Aunt Neda’s guests filed by one-by-one. Eventually, she enjoyed a slice of cake and some ginger ale punch, but, for the bulk of the time, she never moved from her post. Her eyes rarely left Aunt Neda.
After saying my hellos to plenty of party guests, I sat down next to Debbie for a spell.
“Debbie, I really appreciate all you do for Aunt Neda. You are a gift from God to our family.”
“Aww, thank you,” she shrugged. “I’ll tell you what I told Miss Neda. I’ll take care of her ’til the end. You don’t got to worry none ’bout that.”
She said it so matter-of-factly, as if it was no big deal to make such a vow. And you know what? I believe she’ll keep that promise.
She has no obligation to our family other than the hourly wage she earns. I’m sure the work can be trying as Aunt Neda’s needs become more acute. Yet Debbie feels a calling to see our matriarch to the finish line.
Isn’t that just like Jesus?
His gaze never leaves us. The instant we need His help, he’s right there. No matter the mess we get ourselves into, His steady love comes through. Even though our commitment to Him is fickle at best, He’s in it with us for the long haul.
When I think of Debbie, I think of Jesus.
Makes me wonder if that could be said of me.
The literal meaning of “Christian” is “little Christ.” Though we won’t truly get it right ’til heaven, a true Christian’s goal must be to be like Jesus. To act like Him. To talk like Him. To love like Him.
I have a long way to go. How about you?
Thank you for giving me a glimpse of Your character in the mocha-skinned face of a woman named Debbie. Bless her, Lord, for her humble service and staunch commitment to see a strong-willed treasure to the finish line.
Please, Lord, help me stick with people even when things get sticky. Help me serve others even when it’s inconvenient. Help me love like Jesus.
In Jesus’s Name I pray, AMEN