Shining Light to Seniors


In 1978, I walked into our local nursing facility with a friend, not having the slightest idea of what to do. My awkwardness is still vivid in my mind! For a long time I had a handy phrase "in my back pocket" for those awkward moments, and believe me, I used it often. "Are you going down to the recreation room to get coffee?" I would ask, squirming and searching for something else to say.

That was then, and this is now. God touched me and gave me the gift of senior ministry. I knew it pretty quickly. My love for the elderly and an ability to communicate with them were cause for much wonder in my quiet moments. In reality, I think it was more availability than ability. The words of an old line in particular...had burrowed into my heart many years before and moved me forward in this needy work. Here are the words: Let none hear you idly saying "There is nothing I can do." Visiting in the nursing home is something anyone can do, yes, with some awkwardness in the beginning; but who cannot read a few verses from the Bible to an elderly woman or talk about the war with an old veteran? After a couple of weeks of that, it's easy to ask them about eternity.

Well, here is the story of one of the people I encountered a good while ago...Jane.

My years of ministry included holding church services,
a Thursday night Bible study, helping to feed some of the people at lunch time, but mostly one on one visiting from room to room. One night, I went to spend a little time with one of my "regulars," only to find she was somewhere else in the building. I stopped to talk to a lady I had not visited before. She was blind. And she was one of the most frail people I met in all my years at my nursing home.

I just went to stand by her bed to greet her in sort of a passing way. I introduced myself. She told me her name was Jane. Her voice was quiet. I felt I should stay for a while and started just getting to know her a little. She had been born in England. I could tell. As I talked, I very gently rubbed her shoulders and the tops of her arms.

As I talked, she suddenly grabbed my hands. I thought perhaps I had hurt her, but no, that was not it.

"Whose hands are these?" she asked fingering my hands as blind people often do.

I answered, "Uh, they are mine. I am Sharon and I just stopped by to talk to you for a few minutes."

"No," she said, now somewhat agitated. "Whose hands are these?"

I was somewhat confused and did not know what was happening.

"Jane," I said, leaning down closer to her, "my name is Sharon and I've come to just visit with you and tell you about Jesus."

"These are God's hands," she spoke more loudly.

There are about ten times in all of my nursing home ministry when I freaked out. This was one of them. I did not know exactly what to think. I tried once again to calm her down and explain.

"Jane," I said, gently grasping her hands, hoping to settle her down. "I am a volunteer who comes to this nursing home to visit with all of you. My name is Sharon." She held tightly to my hands.

"No," she said more quietly, but much more decisively, "these are God's hands."

By now, I felt I was in a story like the one about Samuel hearing God speak to him three times before he knew it was God. Tears were coming down my cheeks. God struck me with one of His kind and forever arrows that night. He had assigned me to that place to be His hands and feet and voice. The years have not lessened the amazement that came as a result of that encounter. I still don't know exactly what happened; but I do know my Heavenly Father wanted me to work there for Him and to be the human to bring Him to Jane and the rest. I ask you, could you ever be the same after something like that?

It was a life changing moment. It could have been a "nothing" moment but I am always looking for burning bushes.