“When I Was Sick Ye Visited Me”

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The concerns of everyday life and responsibilities towards our own families consume us sometimes and how easy it is not to be diligent in our visits of the lonely, the elderly, the ill – and the dying. We may remember them in prayer but I believe that the Lord lays the plight of certain people upon our hearts and it is good to spend time with them, whenever possible. Sometimes I have called with someone, only to be shocked at the deterioration in their health and demeanour since I last saw them – even in a very short space of time.

I visited someone once who had no one to give her a sip of cold water. She was alone in this home for the elderly and I was her only visitor that afternoon. She loved the flowers I brought to her – but really appreciated that drink of cold water.

I remember other visits to other souls in the same circumstances in recent times and I recall that when I have visited them that I felt emotional afterwards but also had a strong sense of the Lord’s Presence, even long after I had wandered out of this different world where people are nearing the end of their lives.

I remember a jolt to reality as I wandered out into the strong sunshine again. For that moment I was again part of this world where people go about their business, or laugh or shout or get entangled in all the complications of everyday life. But there is a sense in which I now no longer feel part of this world in some ways. I feel an urgency and concern for the souls I know whose lives are ebbing away…. Are they truly ready to meet the Lord? Driving back into the town again I saw crowds of shoppers milling the streets – they too are only a breath from eternity.

Someone tried to cheat me in a shop that day and I discovered something else which made me despair in the condition of the human race. But someday they too will be nearing the end of their lives – and this bright garish world with all its attractions, financial ‘wheeling and dealing’ and its consumer society will be no use to them.

I believe that for the Christian “the things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” We may sometimes wonder about the manner in which we ourselves will depart this life but the Lord has given me lovely promises in recent times…

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” (Psalm 23v6)

“And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” (Isaiah 46v4)

Meanwhile, as long as the Lord gives me strength I shall go as He leads to visit those who need a sincere witness, that they would place their lives into His care, for as we cross this life into eternity – our hope, our only hope, is life-giving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And there are His children to visit too – those who perhaps are bed-ridden or housebound and who need a loving touch, encouragement and someone to pray with them, as they face the everyday trials of pain and weariness.

Such visits are rewarding for those who make them…. both in this dispensation and in eternity. How marvellous to hear those words: “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” (Matthew 25v34-36)

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