Helping with Hospice | A God Moment for Me
I love the way God puts in place the little details which guide us in knowing we’re on the right track.
Several years ago, after I’d climbed my way up from the pit of grief and allowed God to fill me and push me forward, I knew the time had come for me to reach out and share the love I knew came from Him. I wanted to help, felt compelled to do something, but I didn’t know what…until I began hearing God’s whisper to me, “Hospice. Help with Hospice.”
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This is how the story went:
God reminded me of His infinite patience when it came to my experience volunteering with Hospice. I kept trying not to listen to Him, though. I began thinking about David’s death, about cancer and the whole process of dying. I wondered if I might be able to help someone facing his own death. I hadn’t been able to help David in the two or three months he was dying, a fact I struggled to come to grips with. If I could help someone else, though, in honor and memory of David, that might ease my grief.
The idea of Hospice scared me. Talk about out of my comfort zone. I had never done anything like helping anyone, much less a stranger, through the dying process. Although the idea floated around in my head, I refused to grab hold of it and pursue it.
Oh, I did at one point say, “Okay, God. I’ll try to call Hospice and see what I need to do to volunteer.” But then I only half-heartedly searched the phone book for the number. When I didn’t find it in the first couple of places I looked, I shrugged to myself and just thought, “Oh well.” I was too scared to dig any further.
I tried to put it out of my head. I didn’t really want to volunteer for Hospice anyway. Did I?
A few weeks passed, and I still couldn’t get the thought of volunteering for Hospice out of my mind. Again, I halfway attempted to find their number and again gave up when I didn’t find it quickly.
I moved on to other things and tried not to think about it anymore.
My husband, Mark, and I sat in our living room watching Jeopardy a few weeks later. I finally gave in…a little. “Mark,” I said. “I can’t stop thinking about Hospice. I’m going to have to find their number and call.”
Mark agreed. “When you can’t get a thought out of your head like that, Someone is trying to get you to listen.”
I wasn’t totally sure about that, but I knew I needed to look forward into what was next in my faith journey. “After dinner tonight, I’ll search harder for the number,” I told him.
We planned to go to our church that evening for dinner before the kids had choir and Bible study. I decided I’d find the number when we returned home.
We could smell fried chicken as soon as we stepped in the church door. Quickly, we fell in line, anxious to get our plates. Just to the right of the food table, a bulletin board hung on the wall. I’d passed that bulletin board countless times. This time, as we stepped past, a paper hanging in the middle caught my eye. It was the only paper on the entire board. I stepped closer and looked at it. “Volunteers for Hospice Needed”, the headline read. Underneath was a description of the duties involved and below that, sectioned off in neat little tear-off pieces, was the phone number to call. I could not believe what I saw. The number for Hospice? Really? With that kind of timing? Knowing at that moment just what God was trying to tell me, I ripped one of those little strips off the flyer and tucked it away in my pocket. Silently, I prayed, “Thank you, Lord. I will call. I promise.”
Within the week, I kept my promise and called. I’m so glad I did.
Something else happened with my Hospice experience that both amazed and humbled me. Before I was able to work with a patient, I had to go through extensive training. Each Tuesday and Thursday for six weeks, I left my teaching job at the end of the day and went straight to the Home Health Care office where I attended Hospice Volunteer Training. Training was an emotional time for me, and I often wondered if my trainer noticed that I frequently had to wipe away my tears. It wasn’t just that I was sad. I was just so grateful to feel like I was answering God’s call, to feel like I was doing something. Purpose is found in what we do in His name. I finally began to realize that.
And God let me know specifically that He continued to be with me.
When it came time for me to finally meet my first patient, my trainer and I met outside of the nursing home where I would be visiting. We sat out on a little bench as we went through confidential paperwork. This particular patient had cancer and Alzheimer’s. She was 99 years old. Her family, who lived only about 20 miles away, just wanted someone to visit her in the off times they couldn’t be there. That would be my job.
Then, the trainer pulled out the last sheet of paper. “Let’s see, Julie,” she said to me. “This patient will be 100 on…” her eyes scanned the page, and then she continued, “July 17. July 17 is her birthday.”
July 17. Two days after my birthday. The anniversary of David’s death. Another coincidence that was not lost on me. Well, let me take that back. I noticed it. It mattered. I was amazed by it. And while I didn’t lose it, I misplaced it for a while. I didn’t trust enough to keep it with me. Only now can I look back and understand the magnitude of that coincidence. Guideposts magazine has a section called “His Mysterious Ways: More Than Coincidence” which covers experiences such as this. I’m not sure why I can always read those and KNOW that it’s God working in those people’s lives and then when it’s something pertaining to me, I question and doubt. Stubbornness, I suppose. I’m working on that…always. I’m learning to trust that God’s plan in my life often displays itself in these ways.
Matthew 25:40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.”
What experiences have you had with God showing you in the details you are on the right track? I would love for you to share them in the comments below!