I enjoy taking long walks. It has become my personal method of decompressing from the stress of daily activities. During my walks, I would often walk past this older gentleman and wave to him as I go by. He would nod his head at me as a gesture of acknowledgment. My friend often joined me on my walks, but this particular day my friend was not available. In my normal routine of waving to this older gentleman and keeping to my pace, he joined me on4 my walk. I was surprised when this happened because we didn’t know each other. Our conversation began with him asking me what are we doing out here in this heat? I laughed and responded, “We are trying to stay healthy”. He did most of the talking and I mainly listened commenting occasionally. There were no formal introductions or exchange of names at the time. The old gentleman is from South Carolina and is 83 years old. He told me stories from his childhood and reminisce of the good old days, as he put it. Then things turned personal as he began to speak of his wife. His wife had two strokes with the second one leaving her totally incapacitated, intravenously fed and is living in a long term care facility. He and his daughter visit daily and assist with the bathing and feeding.
Prior to his wife having a stroke, he tried to convince her to eat healthily and exercise, but she would not listen. The longevity of his wife's condition has causedfeelings of discouragement to the point that it was difficult for him to control his emotions. He fears that his wife's passing is at the door. I said sir, "I know you love your wife and that you tried to be a good husband, but you can’t carry the burden for choices people willfully make for themselves. I have been where you are with my 81-year-old mother. She refuses to go for annual check- ups because she no longer trusts doctors. My sister and I have tried to force her to go and she would get angry with us. We tried often to get her to change her mind, but she adamantly refuses to go. I recall feeling much like you stressed out and burden over the situation. I needed God to give me peace regarding my mother’s decision". Immediately the old gentleman said, “This is what I need, PEACE”. He said, “Sometimes I’m out here walking two times a day because I can’t handle seeing my wife in her current condition. I keep going to the doctor for chest pains, but they never find anything". I said sir, ”Peace came when I released my mother in Gods capable hands and this is what you must do. I had a talk with my mother about Jesus and I know she is a Christian. When the Lord calls her home, I know she will be forever in His presence. You must have this same conversation with your wife. As you have lovingly provided for her physical needs, you must also care for her soul. Ask your wife if she has surrendered her heart to Jesus?” The old gentleman responded, “I want to be honest with you. I am not a perfect man. I said sir, start with yourself. You have a talk with Jesus and surrender your heart to Him. Then go see your wife, tell her what you did and pray with her. His whole countenance changed and I heard the joy in his voice. He said, “I am going to do this!’. As our walk concluded, we exchanged names and went our separate ways. I am sure I will be seeing my friend again soon.
Over the past few weeks, my Pastor has been speaking of the Women at the Well in John chapter four, and it has been very enlightening. Jesus, on purpose, waited for this woman to come to the well. She was considered an outcast in her village by many, because of choices she made in her life. But Jesus, out of His love and compassion, made time to come to her and spoke words that changed the course of her life. This is the mantle we carry today as followers of Christ. At times we must lay aside our own agenda, culture and comfort zone, or in my case, slow down my pace to listen to a broken hearted old man. We are called to stop at the well.