This is part four of a series about Ruth and her late husband, Loren. Ruth enrolled in our hospice program when she was ninety years old. I thought that last week’s column was the final part until I received the following email from Ruth’s son, Bruce: “I was with mom when she had been admitted to Southern Ohio Medical Center for a few days last February, and a grown man, probably ten years younger than myself, came into the room and introduced himself. At that point I recognized him and we chatted briefly; but then he got right to the point of his visit. He said he had heard mom was in the hospital and wanted to drop in and share something with her. Growing up his family was very active in the church but he said there was always something that seemed missing in their dynamic that week in and week out he saw primarily in Mom and Dad and our family as a whole. He told my Mom that many years ago as a young man he made a promise to himself that when he became an adult and had a family of his own that he would be the same father and would have the same family life as did my parents. He really made my Mom and myself feel very special in a hospital room, not the best circumstance. What struck me most was at this stage in his life he took the time to share those thoughts again with her…That act of kindness makes a statement about the person that he is also.”
Oswald Chambers wrote, “You can never give another person that which you have found; but you can make him homesick for what you have.” (My Utmost for His Highest, June 10th) You see, that young man, “week in and week out”, saw something in Ruth and Loren’s family that he became homesick for.
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world…Let your light so shine before men that they will see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) You see, people have to see it before they’ll believe it.
There are several legends about how Missouri got its nickname as “The Show Me State”, but it appears that the most widely accepted and documented version is that Missouri’s U.S. Congressman, Willard Duncan Vandiver, coined the phrase in a speech he made in Philadelphia in 1899. He declared, “I come from a state that raised corn and cotton and cocklebur and Democrats, and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me!” Most of us are neither “convinced” nor “satisfied” with “frothy eloquence”, especially when it comes to spiritual realities. We have to see it to believe it; before we’ll have anything to do with it.
Oswald Chambers wrote about “The Divine Rule of Life”: “The example Our Lord gives us is not that of a good man, or even a good Christian, but of God Himself…show to the other man what God has shown to you….deliberately identify ourselves with God’s interests in other people….The expression of Christian character is not good doing, but God-likeness. If the Spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit Divine characteristics in your life, not good human characteristics. God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life, not as a human life trying to be godly. The secret of a Christian is that the supernatural is made natural in him by the grace of God…” (My Utmost for His Highest, September 20th).
We can either spend our lives trying to make a name for ourselves or manifesting His name to those He has given us. Jesus prayed to the Father shortly before His crucifixion, “I have manifested your name to the men you have given me out of the world.” (John 17:6) The Apostle Paul wrote: “Let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who…made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant…He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8) Jesus’ goal was never to make a name for Himself. His soul purpose was to manifest, embody, display and make known the heart, mind, will and character of God to all those that the Father gave Him.
It is apparent to me that Ruth’s goal has never been to make a name for herself either. Ruth has manifested His name by deliberately identifying herself with God’s interests in others. Ruth can’t give us anything that she has found but she sure can make us homesick for what she has.
Loren Hardin is a hospice social worker at Southern Ohio Medical Center and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 740-356-2525