I recently read a touching story by an unknown author whose simple words held profound meaning. The story goes …
"There once was a little boy who wanted to meet God. He knew it was a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his suitcase with Twinkies and a six-pack of root beer and he started his journey.
When he had gone about three blocks, he met an old woman. She was sitting in the park just staring at some pigeons. The boy sat down next to her and opened his suitcase. He was about to take a drink from his root beer when he noticed that the old lady looked hungry, so he offered her a Twinkie. She gratefully accepted it and smiled at him. Her smile was so pretty that the boy wanted to see it again, so he offered her a root beer. Once again she smiled at him. The boy was delighted! They sat there all afternoon eating and smiling, but they never said a word.
As it grew dark, the boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave, but before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old woman and gave her a hug. She gave him her biggest smile ever. When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, "What did you do today that made you so happy?" He replied, "I had lunch with God." But before his mother could respond, he added, "You know what? She's got the most beautiful smile I've ever seen!"
Meanwhile, the old woman, also radiant with joy, returned to her home. Her son was stunned by the look of peace on her face and he asked, "Mother, what did you do today that made you so happy?" She replied, "I ate Twinkies in the park with God." But before her son responded, she added, "You know, he's much younger than I expected."
This month, consider taking your small group on a trip to meet God in a nursing home. Psalm 71:17 says, "Do not cast me off in the time of old age; Do not forsake me when my strength fails." Showing nursing home residents the love of God can break through the trappings of their age or illness and release a long-awaited joy. Currently there are one and a half million men and women in nursing homes throughout the U.S.; 60 percent of them never have a visitor.
Call a local nursing home ahead of time to schedule your group's visit. After determining the place and time, decide what you would like to do during your visit. Many residents love to be read to while others need help writing letters to friends and family. Singing is usually very welcomed and appreciated, as is a simple game of cards. Probably the best expression of God's Love to these men and women however, is a listening ear and a warm touch.
Don't worry about what to say. Simply talk about your everyday activities or ask the resident questions about his or her family history, childhood memories, work experiences or hobbies. Even those that are not mentally alert can respond to the warmth of a smile or a reassuring pat on the hand.
Before you leave, ask for the names of some residents to whom your small group members can write. Encourage your group members to continue building a relationship with a resident through letters and follow-up visits.
Afterwards, meet together at someone's home for a time of refreshments. Invite those in your group to share their experiences, and then end with prayer for the men and women you met.