What’s the greatest expression of love that you can think of? When has someone cared for you in such a way that you knew, beyond any doubt, that the person loved and cared about you? One of the greatest expressions of love that I heard about comes courtesy of Bethel’s own Zeke Bookman. Back in the late 1980s, Zeke’s wife Doris was sick and Zeke lovingly cared for her. Each morning Zeke would rise early to cook breakfast for Doris. Before he delivered her breakfast in bed, Zeke went outside and carefully selected and cut a beautiful long stem rose and placed it in a vase. He placed the rose on the tray and delivered this beautifully adorned breakfast to his wife each morning. With breakfast delivered Zeke would then make his way over to their grand piano where he would proceed to serenade Doris with some beautiful melodies that brought back memories of yesteryear. Zeke could have kept breakfast simple and just delivered Doris her breakfast in bed without any fanfare, and most any of us would be delighted with that! Not Zeke. He thought carefully about what would please Doris and what would bring her joy and delight. In other words, Zeke allowed love to guide his actions.
I was reminded of this love story as I visited Zeke in the hospital. He was recently hospitalized after a bad fall. Zeke is 92 years old and his daughter Betty says, “A bad fall at home has taken Dad on a journey that has included ER rooms twice, Neurological surgery and one very unpleasant rehab for 6 days. Through it all his spirit and sense of humor have remained steadfast. Everyday when we have visited, Dad’s concern has been for his daughters and how they were handling the stress involved in this experience. Dad’s care and concern for us often superseded the care of himself. When its time to order his daily meals he often orders a sweet roll for my sister and a banana for me. Never once has he complained! He remains firm in his faith and belief of treating others as he wishes to be treated. In return the wonderful doctors and nurses we’ve encountered have treated him in a loving and caring manner. From the bottom of our hearts we thank his Bethel family for your love, prayers and support!!!”
I was impressed by Zeke’s expression of love for his wife in bringing her breakfast in bed, but what he did for his daughters may be more impressive. Think about it: Zeke is in the hospital in pain with various injuries and when it comes time to order his meals; meals that he needs for his own recovery, he thinks of his daughters and their well-being and orders them something.
This gives us a glimpse, a tiny glimpse, of the greatest expression of love that I know of: Christ on the Cross. When Christ was suffering, in pain and agony, dying for our sins, He was thinking only of us. Please take a moment in your day and meditate on that kind of sacrificial love. Then let’s think about how we can practice sacrificial love in our lives. Like Zeke Bookman, let’s let love guide our decisions and actions. I bet if we did this we’d consistently find ourselves in a place of blessing. May God bless Zeke Bookman, his daughters Betty and Pam and may God continue to bless Bethel Baptist Church. Amen.