Monday, February 15, 2016

Does God Use Toothpicks?

Recently, I was visiting patients on the floor at the hospital.  As I was leaving one patient's room, a gentleman from another room met me in the hallway.  "My grandfather needs a toothpick."  I explained that the hospital may have some in the cafe or the cafeteria and inquired if he knew where either of those locations were.  He assured me that he could find it.  In spite of his hopeful confidence, I invited him to walk with me to see what we could come up with.

As we walked, we talked about his grandfather and skimmed over pieces of his own journey in life.  The cafe didn't have toothpicks, nor did any of the drawers in my department.  Grateful for the conversation, but empty-handed, we walked back to his grandfather's room. 

Prior to entering, I checked the room number against my patient list, to make sure we were in the right place.  We were.  But, to my absolute amazement, delight, and disappointment, the grandfather we were hunting toothpicks for, was a man I knew and loved!  He was someone I visited regularly at the nursing home I've been visiting for nearly a year.

He stole my heart one of the first times I asked him how he was doing.  He was 99-years-old and blind, lying peacefully on his bed in a dark room, holding his call button with both hands, and said, "Every day is a holiday.  Every meal a feast.  Smell every rose as you go by, 'cause you only pass this way but once."

I would probably be smitten with anyone who answered that question that way, but this man, in that room?  Definitely.

I tracked him down the following morning to deliver a baggie with toothpicks to cover another week or so of meals, I hoped.  I helped him with a sip of coffee and a bite of breakfast before the nursing staff "relieved" me.  I would have liked nothing more than to stay, but I had a full day's work ahead, so I wished him well and he thanked me for the little I did.

I tried to find him again this morning to no avail, and found out this afternoon he died over the weekend.

I've never been so grateful to have been asked for a toothpick--I would have missed him altogether.  I'm grateful for the awkward prayer I was able to pray with and for him, thanking God for his 100 years and his fidelity to those he loved.

Does God use toothpicks?  

He can if He wants to.  

It may seem like a stretch to you.  It could be a coincidence.  But, if you were me, and you were there, and you could feel the weight of what you would have missed, if it had happened any other way, I hope you would be asking right along with me, "Does God use toothpicks?!"

Dear God of Miracles Big and Small, Obvious and Overlooked,

Thank you for the incredible opportunity to know this great man, whose inner strength could be seen and felt.  Thank you for his grandson who was with him and for allowing me to be there, too.  If You use toothpicks, thank you for the implications this has for everything else in our universe!  Nothing is too small or ordinary to be used by You.  What an awesome thing to ponder!  And a great comfort, too.

Please be with this man's family and all who are grieving.  Thank you for being near to the brokenhearted. Eternal rest grant unto all who have died, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May they rest in peace.    Amen.

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