Today’s post is by Jessica Seekamp. Jessica has worked with Ryan and Kayla for many years at Coram Deo Academy. She lives with her husband Jeremy and their three children in Plano, Texas. You can read her original post by clicking here.
My kids and I were recently blessed with the opportunity to deliver hot lunches to shut-in senior citizens. Elaina helped carry the meals, and the boys trotted along behind me eagerly as we looked for door numbers in the retirement community. We found the first residence and a caregiver opened the door and motioned to where an elderly woman was sitting. The kids and I walked over to the couch and introduced ourselves.
“This is Elaina, Isaac, and Ryker.”
The woman leaned our direction on her walker but her gaze never met mine and I realized she was blind. She couldn’t see my boys waving from behind their thumbs.
“Are you Ms. Lillian?” I asked.
“Yes, I am. Dr. Lillian. I have a doctorate in Latin, Greek, and Classical Literature from Cornell University. I am ninety-seven years old.” She was bowed and frail as she sat there on her couch not knowing where to rest her gaze, and yet had a commanding presence about her. I told her that I teach at a classical school where Latin and Greek are taught, and her face lit up. We spent a few minutes talking and I found out that she was a published author and mother of four children with a passion for education. “Those of us who are not able to get out anymore appreciate very much the time that you take. Volunteers, you are called. I call you angels.”
We had to leave to deliver the rest of the meals but I wished we could stay longer. “Bye, Missis Lullian” Isaac called out.
As we walked around I knew we’d already been blessed. We met another woman who beckoned us in as soon as she saw the kids. If she could have jumped out of her wheelchair and scooped the boys up in her arms, I’m sure she would have. Confined to her chair, she told me that she has “three of those dear boys” herself. “No beautiful girls like this one, though.” Her arms reached out to them one at a time and each of them walked up and put their little arms around her neck.
I thought about these women and their lives on my way home. What strength of character and mind it must have taken for a woman to get a doctorate at Cornell in the thirties. I looked up Dr. Lillian and according to one article, she “used her extensive knowledge to write, edit and publish countless works of literature. While working at the New Jersey State Department of Education, she authored ten books and numerous papers, directed 27 projects, and helped establish the Holocaust- Genocide Resource Center at Ryder University.” The author goes on to say that he asked Dr. Lillian what her secret was to a long and productive life. Her response? “’Carpe diem,’ which she says she has followed all her life. ‘Seize the day, make the most of your life and learn something new every single day.’”
My Carpe Diem moment for today? In a very small way putting feet to my desire to raise my children in a culture of service. Too often I have given into the temptation to wait for that next thing before seizing an opportunity to serve: school to be finished, the kids to be older, that next promotion, the move to a new house. The “imperfect” moments and “imperfect” opportunities for service fall, like ripe fruit, to the ground. A picture of Christianity which was painted long ago by James, Matthew, and Isaiah has recently been illuminated anew for me. So often we live for ourselves – for our children or family or work perhaps, but in a very real way for ourselves. It is easy to love our own children, desire to excel at our life work, and consider how to further our careers and talents. All of these are well and good and can be done to God’s glory. But the picture of Christianity is one that reaches outside of ourselves and our comforts.
Christians, we are to extend our souls.
Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. – Isaiah 58:6-11 (NKJV)
We weren’t meant to live life alone pursuing our dreams. We are to extend our own souls to satisfy the afflicted soul of another. As I’ve thought about James’ description of pure and undefiled religion – “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” – I’ve realized that these both take me out of my comfort zone and require me to put feet to lip-service. God could have kept this world perfect and without heartache, and yet he gives us the hungry, the naked, the afflicted, the fatherless, the widow, and the oppressed, that we might learn to give, love, cover, feed, and free those souls. In doing so, we will be blessed.
Thirty years ago I was the needy one. I was an infant when Dr. Lillian was a well-respected authority on classics and the holocaust. Today, I brought an old blind lady some food. She called us angels. In that angels are ministers, I agree. And Christ tells us that when we minister to the least of these, we minister to Him (Matthew 25). Opportunities await. There is strength for the weak, water for the thirsty, healing for the needy, and satisfaction for our souls that can be found only in Christ and ministering to Him.
Thirty or Sixty years from now – or perhaps tomorrow – you and I will be the needy ones. We musn’t let these opportunities for service and blessing ripen on the ground.
The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.