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FIRST-PERSON: ‘Are you mad yet?’

DITTMER, Mo. — In all the years of visiting people in hospitals and nursing homes as a pastor, I’ve never had a total stranger repeatedly bop me in the face with a balloon and ask me: “Are you mad yet? Why aren’t you mad? Are you mad now? Why aren’t you mad?”

I had been in the hallway of a nursing home talking, laughing and exchanging truths about God with a 100-year-old Christ follower (and grandmother of a friend), when the “balloon lady” (with severe dementia) rolled over in her wheelchair and began bopping me in the face with a little red balloon and asking me, “Are you mad yet?”

When I would say, “No ma’am” (as I held my arm out so she wouldn’t hit Mrs. Ruth), the lady would persist and ask again, “Why aren’t you mad?”

It took a couple of minutes for some of the workers to notice what was happening. As they wheeled the lady with the balloon to another part of the room, they apologized to me several times, while lovingly and patiently explaining to the resident that “the nice young man might not want to be bopped in the face with a balloon.”

I thought it was awesome Mrs. Ruth, this sweet 100-year-old Christian woman, didn’t skip a beat while all of this was going on. She just kept on talking about how good God is and what a joy it has been to serve Him.

This episode made me think about how easy and quite common it is for Christ followers to get distracted by the “balloon boppers” of the world. Many times we can get so bothered by crazy events happening around us in our wayward culture that we forget our primary purpose as believers: to glorify the Lord by making more disciples (Matthew 28:19-20; John 15:8).

A 100-year-old lady reminded me (without even knowing it) that I need to keep my focus on Jesus Christ, faithfully shine His light and keep making disciples no matter what distractions the world may “bop” me with.

Thank you, Mrs. Ruth, for this important reminder.

As the Scripture states, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:17-18).