One of my favorite things to do is service projects. It is a great way to show the love of King Jesus to others. It is a great honor to worship Jesus in this way. But if you serve long enough, things can get interesting as well as down right unnerving. Sometimes the call of duty goes way beyond our comfort level. The story I am about to share goes there and shows you how I manage to get myself into sticky situations. If I loose my mind, I may never forget this experience.
It was a warm spring day in Nashville, Tennessee. I was with a group of students at a discipleship conference and during one of our breakout sessions; we were to go serve the community in some way. Our task was to visit a nursing home to clean the windows so they could see outside and we were to visit the patients as well. We put the students in groups of 3 and sent them in different directions.
The students were really excited to get started. I was over several groups in one particular wing of the nursing home. I would visit with patients, check in on the students to make sure they were on task, and help them with the occasional stuck blind on the windows. If the group of students were short, I usually got the job of reaching the top parts of the windows. No big deal. I really wanted to do a good job because it meant that an elderly person could gaze outside to see the beauty of creation. No sweat! I am here to serve.
I was making my way down the hall when a group of 3 girls got my attention. They couldn’t get the blinds open. I went in to assist. In this dark room, there was three old, little ladies. One was in a coma like sleep. She never moved the whole time we were in there (she might of have been dead, not sure). One lady sat in the middle of the room in her chair, but was paralyzed from the neck down. She could not talk plainly so conversations were not really possible. The third lady was awake when we came in, but after talking a bit she dozed off.
The girls went to work on cleaning the windows. I was trying to visit with patients the best I could. As the girls finished up with windows, we all heard something. We looked at each other and looked around the room. We heard it again. This time clearer. There are times in your life when you hear things, but wish you hadn’t or wished you could ignore it. This was one of those times. My servant heart was about to betray me!!! The little lady sitting in the middle of the room had a request. “Scratch my head!” I had not understood one word she had spoken the entire time I was there. But “Scratch my head” was plain as day. I froze for a second and looked at the girls. They were about to burst into laughter and I was trying to decide what to do.
I felt really sorry for this woman. She could not move anything but her head. I imagine that she was in desperate need of a scratch, but I didn’t think I was qualified to help. Everything I had ever been taught in ministry said, “Don’t do it!” She was a woman and anything over a side hug was way out of bounds. So what is a guy to do? I did what I believed Jesus would have done, I called a nurse. Just kidding! I looked at the woman with compassion and I began to scratch her head. I decided that if I was going to do this, I might as well give her the best darn head scratch she had ever had. I thought a couple minutes would suffice. I was not correct in that assumption. I tried to leave with the girls, because they were not about to leave. This was the funniest thing they had ever witnessed. One girl almost peed her pants.
I told the lady that we needed to get to the next room. She exclaimed, “No, scratch my head.” Apparently, I am very good at what I do. Or she was so desperate she would take any old scratch from anyone. I prefer to think it wasn’t the latter. I finally bolted out the door. I had had enough. Her hair was greasy and I felt gross. Thankfully, the room next door had soap and water. That’s when it hit me. Upon arriving at the nursing home, we were instructed to make sure we closed the blinds once we left a room if they were closed when we came in. You guess it. I had left the other room in such a hurry that I forgot to put down the blind that I had opened. I mean who could blame me for rushing out.
So I went back by myself this time. As I walk in to close the blinds, the lady immediately beckoned me over to continue what I had started. I closed the blind. Here I am, standing in the middle of a nursing home room and its dark. Looking back now, I should have turned on the light. I am scratching this ladies head again. I hear footsteps coming down the hall. I didn’t want to look like a big creep (Although I felt like one). So I paused from scratching to make sure the person didn’t get suspicious of a grown man scratching a strangers head in a dark nursing home room. The lady looked up at me as to say, “Hey, why did you quit, back to work.”
I stayed a few more minutes and then left. Never to return. This crazy story illuminates how awkward it can be to serve others that are in need. But do you know what? That lady received care and love because I did what she needed. I could have easily ignored her and moved on with life. Jesus calls us to serve the least of these. When we serve them, we serve Him. So in a way, I was scratching Jesus’ head (I know that is not less awkward). My point is to serve King Jesus. To serve Him and others, it requires that we humble ourselves and meet needs. We will never know the impact of our service this side of Heaven.
So go serve someone in love. Scratch a head if you have to (Only if they ask) or maybe show some love to a dirty smelly child that needs some affection. It really doesn’t matter who you serve or where you serve as long as you are doing it for our Lord and Savior.
Have you ever gotten in an awkward position trying to help? I would love to hear about it. Trust me when I say that this isn’t the only weird serving experience of my life. Grace and Peace to you as you change the world one scratch at a time.