It seems a Sunday school teacher was talking with his young pupils about how to get to Heaven. He asked the question, “If I sold my home and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, would that get me into Heaven?”
“No!” the children all answered.
Then he said, “If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard and kept everything neat and tidy, would that get me into Heaven?”
Again the answer was, “No!”
“Well then, if I was kind to animals and gave candy to all the children and loved my wife, would that get me into Heaven?” he continued.
Again, they all answered, “No!”
“Well,” he offered, “then how can I get into Heaven?”
A 5 year-old boy shouted out, “You gotta be dead!”
Make no mistake, kids have a way of cutting to the chase. If we will just take the time to observe and listen, kids can teach us a lot. Here is a wonderful true-to-life illustration of what I am saying.
It seems a frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law and his 4-year-old grandson. He trembled, his eyesight was blurred and his steps faltered. The family ate together at the table, but the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon and onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.
The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess. We must do something about Grandfather, said the son. I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating and food on the floor. So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.
The 4-year-old watched it all in silence. One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, “What are you making?”
Just as sweetly, the boy responded, “Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up.”
The 4-year-old smiled and went back to work. The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.
That evening the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table. For the remainder of his days, he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled or the tablecloth soiled. Here is a clear-cut case where out-of-the-mouth-of-a-babe came words that made a difference in this family’s life.
My friend, regardless of your age, if that does not touch you, you are pretty insensitive.
I am grateful to David Hankins, my 86-year-old friend who shared this with me. Fortunately, he has a wonderful family to take care of him, along with his wife Hazel. As I write this, Hazel is in the hospital suffering from a broken neck she suffered from a fall in their apartment and David must have dialysis, three times each week to prolong his life.
In these days when people in our country are living much longer, it would be wise for each of us to access our situation with regard to our parents, grandparents and other loved ones and do our best to assist them in meeting their needs.
In the case of the Grandfather in the story, his physical needs were being met, but what he also needed was understanding, love and compassion. If we live long enough, we will all be there.
(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is a motivational speaker and syndicated columnist. He may be contacted at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway AR 72034.)