WEEK 7: Precious in His Sight
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3, NKJV)
When I decided to utilise the opportunity of a working-holiday visa for the UK, I thought working as a caregiver would be something I could do. To test this, I volunteered at a frail-care facility in my home town. I was overwhelmed within minutes by the sights, the sounds and the smells. Back home, I wept into my pillow, pouring my heart out to the Lord. I didn’t know how I would get through the two weeks I had committed to, let alone two years in the UK. Through my tears, I asked: “Lord, please help me to see these folk as You see them; give me new eyes.” He answered that request and gave me ‘new eyes’, not only for those two weeks but also for the years that followed. These people were not necessarily lovable, easy to handle, or cooperative, but in His eyes, they were incredibly precious, and that made all the difference.
I worked as a live-in caregiver for the first year and a half in the UK, and then decided to assist part-time in the mission department of a local church and continue with care work part-time, which involved half-hour visits to multiple people on a daily basis. This was far more challenging, as one engaged with many more people, in a fraction of the time, and I was stretched in ways I had never been before.
One dear fellow was in the advanced stages of terminal cancer, and he required assistance bathing. It could have been so awkward, but the Lord helped me see him with His eyes and to treat him with kindness and dignity. We used to chat about a whole array of topics, hardly noticing the bathing process. The Lord carried us both through each encounter.
One lady – often the first person I would visit in the morning – would almost run down the passage in anticipation when I rang her doorbell. She would fling her door open, her face radiant, and she’d say with such joy: “It’s you!” I was the only person she saw on a daily basis; her family seldom visited, and she wasn’t mobile enough to venture out much. It broke my heart, but I always made a point of smiling back just as broadly and giving her a hug.
Then there was the sergeant major. He had scared off or insulted so many caregivers that no one wanted to assist him anymore. I was the ‘newbie’, so they asked me to give it a go. He was an ex-military man, and was disciplined, hardened, gruff and impatient. His first words to me when I knocked on his door were: “Don’t speak, just wash my feet!” So that’s what I did. The Lord had so beautifully demonstrated what it means to wash someone’s feet, so I saw it as an amazing privilege to follow His example. It was also my duty to make his bed, to military specifications. I simply did as he asked, and in next to no time, his demeanour softened, and he began to share his war experiences – fascinating stories of secret ops and meeting Winston Churchill.
During these months, I also learnt about loss. A dear Indian lady, orphaned and raised on a Christian mission station in India came to know the Lord during her formative years. Later in life, she moved to the UK where she married and had a family. My visits with her often entailed simply holding her hand and singing hymns and songs of praise. She was not always fully conscious, but she would often still smile. One morning, I arrived at her door as usual and one of her granddaughters opened. When she saw me, her face changed, and she said: “They didn’t tell you.” She explained that her gran had gone to be with the Lord during the night. She asked if I wanted to see her. Despite feeling conflicted, I found myself nodding and she led me to the room I’d become so familiar with. The lady lay there so peacefully, with a smile on her face, and I was glad to have witnessed the peace of one who knew where she was going.