The least

She could be the clerk that just rung up your purchases at the local retail store or the one who helped your loved one eat their lunch in the nursing home or the woman who delivers your mail. She was tall, willowy and attractive. She had just turned 27 and she certainly didn’t want to be there. She apologized for being there. She explained, “If I buy my prescription medication, I can’t pay my rent. Can you help me?” We certainly can write a prescription, but the generic form of the drug she needed was $108.73 for a month at the cheapest place in town. I know because I am the nurse who called all around. A talk with a pharmacist enabled her to get a comparable drug for $15.00! The clinic doctor said that would be fine.

He was a short man and as round as he was tall, but was surprised when the scale said he weighed 258 pounds. “I usually weigh over 300, but I haven’t weighed myself in a long while.” When asked why he was there he said he lost sight in his left eye and now his right eye was blurry in the morning. “I am really scared and I don’t know what to do.” He was told 2 years ago he had diabetes. At that time he was given a 30-day supply of pills, a meter to measure his glucose levels and an appointment to see a diabetes educator. He had no job, no money, no doctor so when the medicine and test strips for the glucose meter ran out, he didn’t do any more. Now his sight in one eye is gone. He called the Community Health Center for those who have Access cards for medical care. He was put on a waiting list for March 2013. Must he lose his second eye before someone will pay attention? He found the church’s medical clinic phone number in some of his deceased mother’s papers. He called.

Folks, I do not have to wonder why I am no longer working as a nurse in the hospital. First, I had to feel what unemployment felt like. I had to soul-search to re-establish my sense of direction and then I had to be with the poor to see Christ and bask in His healing presence. In Ann Voskamp’s list of 10 things you can do to change the world. This is #4

Do whatever it takes to stay with the poor: around the corner, across town, around the world. Make it your lifestyle to live face to face with the needy on a regular basis, because this is a way to stay face to face with Christ.

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” Matthew 25:45

Still in rehab,



9 comments on “The least

  1. Dawn, this — THIS is stepping into the sandals Christ wore and walking in His footsteps! Why does it take such drastic measures and such a long time for us to learn these lessons. Once I was blind, but now I see! It’s one thing to know we are blind and cannot see, but when we go through life seeing everything rosey and smiley when really, it’s mud, pain and tears, it takes a lot to change. But it is life changing. . . . and in the end, I would have it no other way. I know how those two feel, Dawn. You could have included me in those examples. I know the shame. I know the hopelessness. I know the fear of a very dark tomorrow. But I also know a county health dept. nurse named Jennie who stayed beyond her work hours to find a way to save my life. I know a lady named Billye who worked extra hard to rush paper work through the Women’s Breast and Cerivical Cancer program to get me the treatment I needed. These people had hearts as well as eyes that could see where I was and did what they could do. Yes, they helped to saved my life in the physical sense, but they also were so instrumental in changing my blindness into sight so I could see as God sees. My life has changed, just as yours has, Dawn. I know how you feel. It’s hard to let those feelings come again and again, yet, unless we do, we know nothing of Calvary Love, do we?

  2. This moves me to tears! First these people’s stories made me hold my breath, hoping for them. Then the things you and your clinic were able to do…! Magnificent the beauty God brings out of ashes! I was thinking exactly your same thought before you said it: “I do not have to wonder why I am no longer working as a nurse in the hospital.” And yes, you needed to experience unemployed to be better equipped. This is just so beautiful! Hallelujah!

  3. Dear Andrea Dawn, Cora and Sylvia,

    You who have taken this journey with me through my death and resurrection know how miserable I was when I “had it all” by the world’s standards. It takes the stripping away of the world to be in the place where you can really minister. I did a concept analysis on empathy once and found it to basically mean that you do unto others as they would have you do unto them AS IF you were the other. You really have to know the other to do this. If I do for another what I would want done to me that means to do it in a way I like, in a way I can accept/tolerate. Sometimes what I can tolerate another can not. I have to learn what that is. To learn what that is, I have to “be with” them in such a way that I can actually step into their shoes. Now I am. I love that. Now.I.AM. The great I AM takes my place and ministers through His Spirit in me. It is very different than it was. The “I am so great” part of me is dying and He takes over.

    I ask with you, Cora, how some seem to get it at such young ages–like Amy Carmichael; and then some of us miss it for so long. I am so thankful for his amazing grace. Grace, grace God’s grace Grace that can pardon and cleanse within,
    Grace, grace God’s grace Grace that is greater than ALL my sin.

    Isn’t He wonderful?

  4. Dawn, you are spreading your blessings and I thank you. You are reminding my cynical self that there are poor beyond the “poor in spirit” kids I work with who I feel myself pulling away from in frustration.

    About teen pregnancy: “It don’t cost nothin to have babies. My sister’s got three of ’em and she didn’t pay nothin for none of ’em” “You just get on food stamps. That’s what you do. Everyone we know is on food stamps.”. “My mom told me I have to act crazy sometimes so we can keep getting my crazy check.”

    Sprinkled in amongst these spirit poor folks (who are considered money poor by a society that doles out money to them that sometimes gets used for manicures and pedicures or whatever) are the ones whose parent or guardians are really trying to provide the necessities of life and who truly need help. They don’t understand how to work the system, so they give up and lose sight?? Dear Lord! Dawn, you are blessed to work where they come to your door all sorted out. Many of us out there in the multitudes are being blinded by what we see and hear on a daily basis.

    Lord, help me to keep my eyes open to see what you see. Help me do what I can, whether it is for financial poverty or spirit poverty or just plain ignorance. Heal my cynical heart. Blessed are the poor. Blessed are the poor in spirit.. Blessed are the ignorant. Blessed are the cynical.

  5. Carrie,

    I am SO happy you commented here. It is precisely the population you describe above that I cared for in the hospital, at least half the time. Truly caring for them would have meant withdrawing all services and teaching them to care for themselves. Something that they have never seen in their entire lives, most probably, since their mothers are teaching them to “be crazy so she continues to get her crazy check.” These are very difficult people to serve, but serve them we must, according to our government. When charity was taken out of the hands of the church and given to the faceless government, we successfully enabled whole generations to be sluggards.

    I love how you say, “Dawn, you are blessed to work where they come to your door all sorted out.” I truly am blessed to work for a CHURCH relief agency. It makes all the difference. We get the repeaters, but those who are able-bodied, we guide so they can “fish for themselves.” If they don’t, we don’t. It’s a complicated system of accountability if our relationship with a person/family is long-term.

    I needed your closing prayer. Thank you.
    Hugs as you contemplate a new school year,

    • You may have missed my comment on ” Thanking God For What I Can Remember”. I was a bit late with it. I think I was suffering from sleep deprivation, my new challange.

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