My sister and I are currently temporary care-givers for Elizabeth Elliot. It has been a very amazing experience, and like many other experiences in my life, it has taught me a LOT. I am very blessed to be able to meet such wonderful people and to be able to bless them.
To see the joy in Elizabeth, and to watch her light up with a smile when she sees us, hear her talk to us, and even tease us, is an absolute joy. Watching her husband selflessly and tirelessly serve her in every way possible and with the tenderest of care is amazing. I told my mom that although I hope I don’t find myself with Alzheimer’s, if I do I hope I am married to a man like Lars! =) He is an absolutely amazing man, whose story the world would be very blessed to hear about, though he is too humble to see a need to write about it.
I tell you all of this because I want to share something that has really been on my heart lately – something that our mutual friend had told us girls when she asked if we could come down and be care-givers for Elizabeth, and something that Lars had told us about as well. It is also something that I could not help but notice for myself in very short order. This is the principle of loving the “least of these”.
In the past my sister and I have had people make negative comments about the fact that we were going to serve someone and thus be gone “again”. They have looked down on our going to serve people and minister to them wherever the need happened to be at the moment. But when people heard we were going to be care-givers for Elizabeth Elliot, they made comments like “I am so jealous” and “What did you do that you got chosen to be the care-givers for Elizabeth Elliot?!” etc. I want to address both of these things.
The first is “I am so jealous”. Why? Why are people jealous when they hear that it was Elizabeth Elliot we are serving, when they could have cared less if it was someone else? When we go places, people ignore us, not interested in talking to an older couple, the wife of which is sitting in a wheel chair. But then someone finds out it who it is and we hear whispered comments of “THE Elizabeth Elliot?” and suddenly all these people who couldn’t be bothered to even greet us or welcome us to their church are flocking around because they “just have to meet Elizabeth Elliot and her husband”. Why?
Don’t get me wrong … Elizabeth is a very wonderful person and I know people have had the opportunity to get to know her through her books and all. I am not trying to say people should not consider it an honor and priviledge to meet her. What I am trying to say, is all the other people who you maybe don’t know – the many people around you every day whose stories and all the ways they have served and blessed others you may not know – they are just as much an honor and privilege to meet, greet and serve. They are special too. VERY special. They have stories to tell, if only you would be interested enough to talk to them and ask. They have served and blessed others, even if they are hidden from all but their Heavenly Father’s eyes. One who blesses others through private prayer is just as much a blessing and just as much a vessel being used by God as the one who stands at the podium speaking words of encouragement and life to them – they just aren’t as well known to you. You don’t see their works of love and all the effort they put into selflessly and tirelessly serving and blessing others.
And you know what? Even if you knew everything about them and you still rate them as being one of the “least of these”, remember Yashua’s words, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40) and “Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” (Matthew 25:45)
This brings me to the second thing I wanted to share with you, and that is the second comment we have been getting from people, “What did you do that you got chosen to be the care-givers for Elizabeth Elliot?” My answer is very simple … we loved the “least of these”. I do not say this to, in any way, build my sister or I up at all. I tell you this because it is the truth and because I hope that through hearing my story you also will be inspired to love the “least of these” regardless of the outcome or results.
This last June, the door opened up for us to volunteer as STM’s (short term missionaries) at a Joni and Friends disabled adults camp. It was unexpected, yet a joy. As we served the people there, we met another one of the women who was also serving there with her husband. This woman, entirely unbeknowst to us, was watching us and how we served and loved those around us. This same woman had a friend, who later was in need of an immediate care-giver – Elizabeth Elliot. My sister and I did not know all this was going on behind the scenes, all we knew was that we had been far more blessed to go serve than anyone could have been to have us go serve them. We walked away from there feeling SO blessed and having learned SO much. We entirely had NO idea what God was going to do six months to the day later … and all because of our obedience and willingness to serve where He had sent us.
And so it was that six months to the day that the camp ended, we got a call asking us to pray about being a temporary care-giver for Elizabeth Elliot, starting two days after we got the call. Even before we knew who it was, we knew we would probably go, because serving is where God has us right now. It was a blessing to know who we were going to be serving only because it gave us an idea of what we were getting ourselves into (although in all honesty it was God who got us here, and He knows all things including the life-styles of those He calls us to – I’m still learning this lesson! =).
I tell you all this, because I hope and pray that you will be inspired to selflessly and tirelessly serve those around you – no matter how much you might look at them and think they are the “least of these”. Be willing to get out of your comfort zone and talk to the visitor at your church, or the lonely looking person sitting in the corner, or the over-looked young lady sitting in the wheel-chair, or the drooling young man who is obviously cognitively impaired (i.e. mentally retarded), or to in some way reach out to the many that cross paths with you on a daily basis. Reach out to the “least of these” and you will have reached out to their Creator. They are all special, and all unique, no matter how different from you they might seem.