Reaching Out

“She stretcheth out her hand to the poor,; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.” (Proverbs 31:20)

The little glass pig from Mr. Misner's. He no longer has his tape measure tongue after our six children played with him.

Some of my fondest memories of my mother are of times when she was serving others. She quietly loved, cared for, and encouraged the elderly in our church, taking them shopping, helping them clean, and just sitting down to visit with them. I remember dear, white-haired Mr. Misner. He loved my mother’s name — Ruth — because he loved the story of Ruth in the Bible. I would stay and keep him company while my mother took Mrs. Misner to the grocery store. He did cool things like letting me pour “tea” from a little copper tea kettle for him. And he had a glass pig with scissors in its tail and a tape measure attached to its little red tongue. I loved pulling that tongue out over and over.

Mr. Misner loved the Bible and he loved Jesus, and I loved him. When it came time to name our third son, we named our Benjamin after Mr. Misner.

Mrs. Johanna Driesner, at 90, with our little Johanna. Mrs. Driesner must not have been nearly as old as I thought she was when I was little because this picture is twenty years later, and she still doesn't look really old

I remember Mr. and Mrs. Krueger and Mr. and Mrs. Driesner, other older saints that mymother stretched out her hands to serve. (Our firstborn daughter was named after Mrs. Driesner.)

I love the image of the virtuous woman “stretching out her hand to the poor” (Proverbs 31:20). The Hebrew word used here for “stretch” is also used to describe the spreading of a skirt, a cloud or a net; an eagle bearing her young on her wings; the unrolling of a scroll; the morning spreading upon the mountains.

As my mother stretched out her hands to serve, I too fell under the refreshing shadow of those hands. While she ministered to those older couples, they left their indelible imprint on me. What a rich heritage my mother unknowingly passed on to me as she lovingly served those in need around her.

  • My childhood was greatly enriched by my contact with those saints who had walked for so many years with Jesus. I learned lessons from their examples and love for their Savior that I still carry with me.
  • I watched quiet, humble service in action — my mother, who served because she loved Jesus, not because she wanted attention or applause.
  • I saw how much it meant to those folks when someone took the time to come and visit them, and to help them with their needs. It doesn’t take much to make a big difference in someone’s day.
  • I became comfortable with older people, and helped, as a young teen, with our church’s rest home ministry. Since then my husband and I have ministered along with our children at retirement homes and in our present church’s rest home ministry.

Where can you stretch out your hand to reach someone in need? Your children will be blessed as they serve alongside of you. Look in your church. Look in your own extended family. Look in your neighborhood or in a local retirement home or care center.

Prayerfully brainstorm with your children:

  • What can you do, along with your children, to make a difference in just one person’s life?
  • Who can you commit to helping or visiting on a regular basis?
  • Schedule a time to go visit this person. Get to know him or her. Find out what his or her needs are.
  • Write down some specific ways you can help this person. Are there special jobs that specific members of the family can take responsibility for?
  • Pull out a calendar and schedule some specific days for reaching out to this person and to others in need.
  • Then be prepared to serve whenever the need arises, even when it’s not on your schedule!

You, your children, and those you serve will all be blessed, and God will be glorified!

“The righteous who walks in his integrity — blessed are his children after him!” (Proverbs 20:7, ESV).


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