In fact, many of these folks can barely stay awake during the sermon even when they make it to the church assemblies. They can volunteer to help only on rare occasions, yet the service they render is as heartfelt on their part as it is deeply appreciated by their fellow members.
These special folks, however, are the righteous character of the congregation's soul. Their lifestyle and faithfulness deeply impacts the nature of their fellow members and enhances the church's witness to the community. In a world of shortcuts, they prove themselves faithful inch-by-inch, hour-by-hour, and heartbeat-by-heartbeat everyday of their lives. They demonstrate for us an amazing and extended grace that is physically costly, emotionally grueling, and spiritually exhausting.
Who are these people? They are family caregivers. They offer care to a child, parent, spouse or other person dear to them who is facing some kind of incapacitation. Many of those I know have chosen to do this even when given an out to the situation. After all, we live in a culture that bales out on marriages for a lot less demanding reasons than a long-term illness, an emotional disability, or chronic loss of memory. We are an impatient people who want instant answers to our problems and sitcom solutions to our deepest agonies. They remind us that the true depth of holy character isn't found in shortcuts, easy abandonment, or bale outs.
If you look around, you will notice some of these people around you. Please, take some time this week to send them a note, go by for a visit, take them a meal, fill in for them so they can get some free time, or simply mow their yard or clean their house ... and praise God for them. These are the real heroes in our world — not the Saturday or Sunday grid iron stars who gain glory for their exploits playing a game. These folks demonstrate true toughness in real life. These people follow the example of our Lord, who summed up his ministry in this apt description of their lives:
"I ... came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45 NLT)