Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Break (02/06/06)
TITLE: Love Endures All Things
By Betsy Tacchella
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During the week, Jan’s responsibilities involved gently and carefully prying open Nellie’s knobby, contorted fingers in order to wash them out and, when necessary, to cut her nails. Because of the pressure of the arthritis, there was the possibility her nails could dig right through the palm of her hands causing infection and other complications. It was a tedious task, painful to Nellie and a trial to Jan.
Keenly aware of the pain involved in unbending her tightly bound hands, Jan worked as gently and tenderly as possible. But due to her senility, Nellie was especially vicious and vile in her behavior at these times. Raising her twisted hands, she would claw at Jan and pull her hair. Angry, garbled words would issue forth as she plunged her gnarled fist into Jan’s blond curls, yanking unmercifully. Glaring at Jan with contempt, she would proceed to spit on her. Spitting and cursing became Jan’s daily afflictions.
Quietly wiping away the saliva, Jan firmly, but lovingly pulled Nellie’s hand from her now matted hair. Jan recognized the call on her life to love Nellie to Christ. With patience, God would one day break through the hard shell around her heart.
Each time Jan went into Nellie’s room, she spoke of Jesus and His boundless love. As she expressed how precious people are in God’s sight, the room seemed saturated with His love. Often Jan read Bible verses and sang songs about Jesus, her own attitude one of joy, caring, and unconditional love for Nellie and a commitment to respond in love no matter what.
Asking Nellie to stop the painful hair pulling and spitting was to no avail. For two years Jan put up with persecution, suffering, and unpredictable behavior. Yet never did she forsake her commitment to love at all cost. God would break the bondage that held Nellie captive.
One day as Jan performed her duties, she felt led to share her faith in God, how Christ had died for her sins and had given her eternal life. Quietly, she trusted the Holy Spirit to draw Nellie’s hardened heart. Nellie listened but made no verbal response. Wondering what it would take to break through, Jan pressed on in faith, seeing no result.
As the day wore on, another staff member came on duty to relieve Jan. After a few minutes of tending to Nellie, she excitedly burst out of the room in search of Jan. Her words were electric as she communicated that Nellie had not only heard Jan’s message of salvation, but had decided to accept him as her Savior. Her spirit had been touched. The Lord had broken through and performed His work of grace in her heart. Rejoicing could be heard up and down the hallway.
Shortly thereafter, Jan had to tend to Nellie once again. As one of her gnarled hands was held up for cleaning, the old woman lifted the other as if to grasp and pull Jan’s hair once again.
“Please don’t pull my hair,” Jan gently pleaded. “It hurts when you do that.” A brief moment passed followed by a broad smile on Nellie’s face. Tenderly, she patted Jan’s hair and rasped, “Pretty.” Then she looked at Jan and in her broken voice sweetly said, “I love you.”
The love of Jesus is a powerful force in this universe. The most unlovable and hardest among us need Him as much as the easily won, likeable soul. Persistent love willing to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things was the requirement for Nellie’s soul. Jan was the able servant whose actions and words proclaimed the compassion of our great God who desires none to perish but for all to come to Him. Willing to lay down her life for her “friend,” Jan is a living example of the disarming power of the love of God.
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