My mom and dad will not be sleeping in their bed tonight. In fact, they haven't slept in their bed for the last several nights. They are sleeping at my great-grandfather's house. His wife passed away last week and they are staying with him to take care of him. They will feed him, clean the house, give him his medicine and begin the process of helping him deal with all the legal and financial issues that come after the death of a spouse. They will cry with him, hold him, read the Bible to him and pray over him.
I know they will do all of these things because I have seen them do this before for someone else - for me. When Barry passed away, my parents stayed with us for two weeks. They fed me, cleaned my house, got up with the kids each morning and played with them during the day. They went with me to the funeral home, met with the lawyer with me, helped me fill out countless legal and financial forms and helped me pay the bills. They cried with William and I, held us, read the Bible to us and prayed over us.
Eight months later, my mom still calls me every night to check on me and tell me she loves me. My dad comes over and takes care of the yard. (He even came over to kill a monstrous spider in my herb garden once. Don't judge me - it was huge. You would have called your daddy too if were in your backyard...) They keep my kids once a week so I can have a break and rest. They help me when I have financial questions. They have walked with me through this tragedy in a way that has helped me to feel safe and loved. And they did all of this while grieving themselves.
There are no words to convey the depth of gratitude I feel towards my parents. They have shown over and over again what it means to truly love someone. They are a beautiful example of humility, sacrificial love and faithfulness. They work harder than anyone I know. And they do all of this, not just for me, but for so many.
Their actions are not birthed out of obligation. They do not act to earn the favor of man. Their actions are birthed out of a genuine love for Jesus and their desire to see him glorified in the lives of everyone they know. Every time they serve another, they do so with the hope that that person will either come to know Jesus as Savior or come to love and trust Him more deeply.
Tonight will be a long night for my parents. They will get up numerous times to help a widow. There will be little sleep, lots of work and lots of tears. But my great-grandfather will feel deeply loved during one of the hardest seasons of his life. And those of us watching will be challenged to love others sacrificially. Like they do. Like Jesus loves us.
I want to love people like my parents love people. I want to love my children like my parents love their children. I look forward to the day that I can serve them the way that they have served so many.