I arrived at my little cottage at the beach before any of my guests joined me. As I pulled into my little neighborhood of Laguna Beach, I noticed an elderly woman sitting on my porch. She threw up her hand as I pulled into the carport. I waved back.
***The area of our little cottage is quite transitional. It is definitely ‘old Florida’…lots of little cottages. New homes are slowly replacing the older ones. But, there are lots of older people who have lived there for years. They walk together and walk their dogs together and keep tabs on each other. This lady, Carol, lives in a tiny place a few streets over, with her white dog, whom she walks two or three times a day.***
After I parked, I walked onto the front porch to say ‘hello’. She spoke before I could. “I hope you don’t mind. I got so hot, and my heart was beating so bad, I had to sit down for a minute. Don’t worry I’m not going to let the dog mess in your yard. I’ll be gone in just a minute.” I told her she was welcome to sit for as long as she wanted. We exchanged a few more words and then I began to unload the car. As I brought the first things into the house, the words “just a cup of water’ flashed through my mind. I knew immediately I needed to fix Carol a cup of ice water. And, so I did. I unlocked the front door and walked outside. She was beginning to walk off. I called out to her and told her I had her a cup of cold water.
She stopped and turned around and came back into the yard. Tears began to stream down her face as she took the cup. She drank half of it in one gulp. Then she looked at me and said, “Thank you. Oh, thank you. That is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.” She turned around and walked off with her cup in one hand and her dog leash in the other. As she walked away, I watched her take a couple of pieces of the ice and give it to her dog.
I went back to unloading the car…thinking, ‘that was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for her?‘ That’s tragic. Whether it was true or not, she was crying and obviously touched. And, I did so little to warrant that reaction. It’s quite humbling to think you have done such a little unimportant deed and someone thought it the nicest thing that had ever happened to them. Who knew? What other little tasks could we do that would touch someone just as much? Have I missed a nudge from God to do some simple thing? Have I missed an opportunity to give someone else a ‘cup of water’ or something equally as simple?
I started thinking about the phrase ‘just a cup of water’…and remembered it was a song my mother used to sing as a solo. I could remember a few of the words. “If just a cup of water, da da da your hand….then just a cup of water is all that I demand”. God expects us to give to others with what we have been given by Him.
Now friends, I have not heard that song in probably 40 or more years…nor thought of it. Actually, probably longer than that…because 40 years ago I was 23 and long gone from home…so maybe even 50 years ago! It’s a very old song and I don’t think I’ve ever heard it sung except when she sang it. So it was buried deep in the gray matter…but sprung to the front when I needed to follow the instructions. I think it amazing that something I heard my Mom sing 50 years ago, was stuck in my memory. The funny thing is, when I told Joy about it…she started singing and I joined in… ‘I travelled down a lonely road and no one seemed to care. The burden on my weary back had bowed me in despair. I oft complained to Jesus how folks were treating me and then I heard him say so tenderly….da, da, da, da, da, da, da,…….if just a cup of water.da da da da da da then just a cup of water is all that I demand.’
Where do those old songs reside in our brains? And, what makes one stick and not another one?
This is just a reminder that the things we say and show our children when they are young…are in their memory for a long, long time. This is a hymn that Mom sang in church when I was quite young. I was reading recently an article about the theology of hymns. They were originally designed to be a concise nugget of the gospel message…written precisely for congregational singing…with rhyming words, or choruses to make them easier to memorize. Our church forefathers planned our worship to include the singing of hymns.
I consider myself and my children blessed to have grown up in our denomination (Baptist) at a time when hymns were considered a vital part of the worship experience. I realize the younger generation has different feelings about what they wish to experience in a worship service…and, though I would be happiest if we could sing all hymns…all the time, everyone in a church needs to be considered. That is as it should be. But, I so miss the messages I get from the words of hymns. I just don’t get the same inspiration from songs written with words that repeat and repeat and repeat….songs usually meant for a soloist to sing accompanied by a band and backup singers.
Anyway, thank you, sweet Mother, for choosing this song to sing. The words must have been meaningful to you.You always chose your songs so carefully. You did well…50 some years later…those word are ringing in your daughter’s ears reminding me to give and share and help those who need me. To continue to follow God’s commands. What a legacy you left me, Mom. Oh, how I pray my children can say the same of me!
I traveled on a lonely road and no one seemed to care.
The burden on my weary back had bowed me to despair;
I oft complained to Jesus how folks were treating me,
And then I heard Him say so tenderly,
“My feet were also weary, upon the Calvary road;
The cross became so heavy, I fell beneath the load,
Be faithful weary pilgrim the morning I can see,
Just lift your cross and follow close to me.”
“I work so hard for Jesus” I often boast and say
“I’ve sacrificed a lot of things to walk the narrow way,
I gave up fame and fortune, I’m worth a lot to Thee”
And then I hear Him gently say to me,
“I left the throne of glory and counted it but loss,
My hands were nailed in anger upon a cruel cross,
But now we’ll make the journey with your hand safe in mine,
So lift your cross and follow close to me.
Oh Jesus if I die upon a foreign field someday,
‘Twould be no more than love demands, no less could I repay,
“No greater love hath mortal man than for a friend to die”
These are the words He gently spoke to me,
“If just a cup of water I place within your hand
Then just a cup of water is all that I demand.
But if by death to living they can Thy glory see,
I’ll take my cross and follow close to Thee.