Have you ever had one of those Déjà vu moments? The other week I was in the shopping mall to pick up some items for the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage.
On this occasion, I was walking down the mall and stopped dead in my tracks. Coming at me was someone that looked like my old aunt Elsie. She had the same hairdo, wearing the same clothes, and I was shocked because aunt Elsie died over 20 years ago.
Aunt Elsie was one of the relatives in my family that goes way back. Once you met her, you would never forget her for shore.
What you thought of her the first time you met her was not who she really was.
She was always trying to bring everything to focus on her.
As soon as she would walk into a crowd, she would begin coughing and then blow her nose. That little act would draw attention to her, attention she wanted. It didn't matter to her if the attention was good, bad, or indifferent.
What mattered to her was the attention.
She wanted people to think she had some physical problems, and often she would walk very slowly with her distinctive limp.
When she was struggling along like that, people would open doors, smile at her, and give her a good greeting.
She would say, “Thank you so much. I really need all the help I can get.”
One day she asked if I could take her to the mall to do some shopping.
When she asked me this, I thought this was my opportunity to determine what was going on with her.
“Oh,” I said enthusiastically, “I’d be glad to take you to the mall.”
We got to the mall, I said, "Aunt Elsie, can you take care of yourself? I need to go to the other end of the mall and pick up some items."
She looked at me with one of her sad looks and said, "Okay, but don't be long. I don't have that much energy today."
As we went our separate ways, I noticed that she was limping along as she usually did. So I thought I would follow her without notice.
I was hiding and watching her and noticed she stopped, looked back to see if I was anywhere in sight, and then strutted off like she was a teenager. No limping at all.
"Aha," I said to myself. I was right. She's been playing us all these years and doing an excellent job of it.
When I met her, she was limping along carrying a bag, and when she saw me, she said, "Could you please carry my bag for me? It's just too heavy for me to carry."
I smiled and said, "Oh, aunt Elsie, I would be glad to carry that bag for you. I know it must be a great burden for you to carry in your condition."
I've kept this secret all my life because I had something on and Elsie and she didn't know it.
I thought of the Scripture that encourages me. "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3).
Even though I know what I know, my job is to encourage someone like aunt Elsie and try to give them what they need at the time.
[Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-216-3025 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.]