“And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” Isaiah 46:4
“Help me! Help me!” he screamed.
My friend, Bob Jackson, and I had just walked into a local assisted care home. Bob stepped around the corner and went into another room. I was left alone with the man. He screamed again, “Help me!”
He was sitting in front of a television. I glanced over and saw Michael Landon on the screen. I thought, “Maybe he doesn’t like Bonanza and wants someone to help him change the channel.” So, I walked over to where he was sitting and kneeled in front of him.
“I will help you.” I said.
“Close the gate.” he yelled.
“That one. Close the gate before those calves get out.”
I pretended to close an imaginary gate.
“Okay. It’s closed.”
“Thank you.” He held out his hand. I took it. He had a firm handshake.
“My name is James. I’m a preacher.”
“I’m Otis (not his real name). This is my ranch.”
For the next few minutes Otis told me all about his place. He had Angus cattle grazing out in the back pasture. He grew milo, corn, and wheat on the rest of his acreage. His wife, Anita (also not her real name) was waiting for him with their baby at the farmhouse.
“How long have you and Anita lived on this ranch?” I asked. There was a sparkle in his eye as he thought about Anita. He smiled and said, “I grew up here. I’ve lived here my whole life. Anita joined me a couple of years ago when we got married.”
“Otis,” I said, “I have to go. Before I leave, would it be okay if I prayed for you?” He said, “Sure, preacher. But make it quick. I have to get back after those calves.”
He bowed his head and closed his eyes as I prayed. For just a moment, the confusion seemed to leave him. For just a second or two, he seemed to be with me there in the assisted care home. When I finished praying, we both said, “Amen,” and I could tell that in his mind, he was back on his ranch.
I stood up and walked away, but somehow Otis went with me. Oh, he didn’t physically come with me, but I have not been able to stop thinking about him. I plan to visit his ranch again next week.
Some people might question how a loving God would allow a man like Otis to spend his final days all alone in a state of mental confusion. However, I don’t believe Otis was alone. I felt the presence of Jesus in that room. Otis is far from alone in his old age.
The point is: If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, He promises to carry you when you are old and gray. You may not always be able to feel His arms beneath you, but the Lord has promised that He will never leave you. Your friends may leave. Your family may leave. Even your mind may leave. But Jesus will never leave you nor forsake you.
Soon, the sun will set on Otis’ ranch. When that final sunset comes, I believe he will hear Jesus say, “Enter into your rest, my good and faithful servant. Anita is waiting for you. Don’t worry about the calves. I will close the gate…”
James Collins is the senior pastor at Fort Scott’s First Southern Baptist Church. Find out more about his ministry at the website www.fortscottfsbc.com.