How God Taught Me to Love My Neighbor

The sun began to peek through the hospital window that Saturday morning, and I thought to myself, this was not part of my plans for today.  As we waited for the doctor to do a GI scope on my husband, Schad, to remove a piece of steak that was lodged in his throat, I was missing our monthly women’s brunch at church.  We had been planning this event for the past month, but I had been looking forward to it for many months.  One of my spiritual moms and mentor was our featured speaker, and I was missing it.

My heart became heavy as the disappointment set in, and uncontrollable tears filled my eyes.  I called my best friend and asked her to pray with me, hoping her prayer would give me the perspective change I so desperately needed.  She prayed a perfect, spirit-led prayer, asking God to show me purpose through this disappointment.

As I hung up the phone, I was convinced that God had allowed this to teach me yet another lesson in loving Schad selflessly and sacrificially.  I took a deep breath, brushed the disappointment aside, and walked back into that hospital room ready to show my man some selfless love.

What surprised me was that Schad truly had no idea I was even there that day.  He slept the entire day away as the medication they gave him for the procedure made him very groggy, and even confused.  And yes, I will admit, I was tempted at one point to sneak out and head to the brunch.  After all, Schad wouldn’t have even known I was gone.   But I stayed.

Soon I heard the voice of the man in the next bed calling for help, but no one came.  His voice sounded distressed.  “Sir, can I help you with something?” I called out from behind the curtain that divided the room.  When he replied with a yes, I peeked around the curtain to find an elderly gentleman whose loneliness showed in his eyes.

My willingness to help him once led to a full day of taking care of him and helping him with whatever he needed.  I called for his nurses, helped him drink his water and wiped his chin with a towel when the water dribbled out of his mouth, and even peeled the grilled cheese sandwich off of his elbow when he thought he lost it in his bed sheets.  I thought God had kept me here to love Schad selflessly and sacrificially, but instead a complete stranger named Richard was on the receiving end of my love and care.

It struck me that Richard and I clicked so well because he yelled at every nurse or CNA that walked in.  This must be God’s purpose for me today, I thought, to love the unlovable, to reach out, and to share Jesus.  I gained enough courage to ask him if he knew Jesus, and was surprised when he said yes, considering his colorful language and hateful treatment of the hospital staff.

Puzzled, I prayed and asked God for a glimpse of purpose.  If this man didn’t need me to lead him to Jesus, what did he need?  Philippians 4:19 instantly came to mind,

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”

The same God who takes care of me, was supplying all Richard’s needs that day.  Sharing the Gospel means more than leading them through a salvation prayer; it means living the Gospel, and living the Gospel means loving our neighbors as ourselves.

love your neighbor

Richard needed someone to be there and love him.  He needed help reaching his water.  And my goodness he needed someone to find that blasted grilled cheese sandwich.

My need that day was a lesson on how to take my eyes off my desires and disappointment, and love others above myself.

How might today look different if we all shift our focus from our plans, desires, and even our disappointments, and look for ways to love others with selfless and sacrificial love?

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