James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Zach & Neva and their two daughters lived two houses over from us when I was a boy growing up. They were friends of my parents and were like close relatives to us. Our families celebrated birthdays together and just enjoyed one another. When I was a high school senior, Zach helped me get a really good part-time job. They were great neighbors. They were members of the EUB church – Evangelical United Brethren.
From my earliest memories, they were always Zach and Neva – never Mr. and Mrs. McPherson or ‘Uncle Zach and Aunt Neva’ – just Zach and Neva. While Zach had a regular job, he was also a handyman. He was one of those blessed individuals who knew how to fix or repair all kinds of things. I remember admiring his work area in his basement. He had all kinds of tools and invariably was always working on a project.
Of all the memories I have of Zach, there was one thing about him that stands out far above all the rest. It’s not just one incident, but it’s a whole bunch of them that are wonderfully similar. Zach was always working on a number of houses in our neighborhood. I would see him at these houses painting, repairing things, putting up or taking down storm windows. It was a normal sight that I grew up with.
I finally got old enough as a child to wonder about it and so I asked my folks why Zach was frequently working at these houses. You can guess the answer. These houses were the homes of older widows or people who needed help. Zach was there for them – year after year. He never talked about it – he just did it. Whenever I read this verse in James about looking after orphans and widows, I think of Zach.