Unsung heroes

There has been much written about heroes lately, as well as there should be.  Doctors, nurses, first responders, and all of those who run “toward” what the rest of us are running “from” must surely be commended and celebrated.  They deserve every accolade imaginable, along with those who protect our country through military service around the world.

I invite you to reconsider the actual appearance of a hero.  I tend to think of the young, strong, and energetic.  While true, there is actually another class of hero who lives very differently, even the opposite.

I recently wrote an article in honor of my dad upon his 85th birthday.   You can find it on the mbfn.org website under the articles tab if you like. I wrote it in part due to the “social distancing” order and travel restrictions we were under.  I would not be able to be there in person, nor were we able to throw a party with guests.

It was the isolation that caused me to think about a whole group of people who are forced to live in those circumstances most every day.  I have always been aware of this category of person; we called them “the homebound.”  These were formally active members of the church who could no longer sit in a hard pew for an hour, or who were too frail to manage the overcrowded foyer.

I have visited many of them often, across my ministry.  I would spend almost a day a week, early in my ministry, visiting the “shut-ins,” another oft used term which sounds unusually offensive in print.  But, never having known them before their shutting in, I don’t guess I realized they were not always like this.

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My father is far from a shut-in. He drives himself; goes out to have breakfast with “the guys;” meets a group of people for lunch at the center; remains active in church; makes regular Wal-Mart runs; and takes care of his dog’s needs.  But not everybody his age can manage their affairs.  One day, he may not be able to either. 

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Which reminds me that he has said, “Growing old is not for the weak.” He is right, it takes courage to face each new day one step slower, with a slightly slower mind, and the gradual loss of friends and family or spouse.  Every day becomes a battleground, with no one to get out of bed for. There is no job waiting on you, and the world seemingly goes on its merry way without remembering you.

While many people have friends and family to turn to, not everyone does.  I can think back now on widows and widowers who would make it to church every week, by themselves, on their own.  I did not quite think about the battle it must have been to get there alone.  I never considered what they might have had to overcome to get there.  How the isolation may have been more emotionally comforting than the cacophony of sound in the church.

I see it now, not just because of my father, but through our role at the Missouri Baptist Foundation. We enter into some of those lives in a way I never did as a pastor. Several people have resigned their position and named us as Trustee over their estate and their lives.  We now pay the bills for them, manage their income and investments.  We arrange for their doctor’s visits and daily care. We even help them order online, something they simply must have, becoming a surrogate protector.

We don’t take this sacred duty lightly.  Our staff is available 24/7 to provide for them as they face the daily battle of living.  I have come to recognize how difficult it can often be for these once young, strong,  energetic, and active individuals to struggle with getting out of bed, or wrestle with the confusion of a clouded mind that used to be so clear.  I hope you are proud of them and of yourself, as you are helping provide for them through support to the Cooperative Program with Missouri Baptists.

Maybe you are looking for someone you can trust to help you continue your battle or know someone who does.  We would love to discuss the possibility together.  We just love taking care of heroes.

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