"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD...He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." Micah 4:2

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Battle Rages On

My Dad
In the home of the elderly patient, time and schedules begin not to matter. There comes a time when appointments, chores, and lists are not the concern of daily schedule. A simpler routine sets in, closely resembling the beginnings of life. Someone else prepares food and meets daily demands while a dreamy sleep of yesteryear overtakes the patient. Awakening only for meals, a desire to snooze in a nearby chair is preferable, and even from that chair, longings gaze toward the bed whether the sun shines or stars twinkle in the sky. 
Without a purposeful study beyond the window, there is no difference of night and day, and the calendar moves on alone as the elderly one stares into the memories of the past.
The life of the care giver tries to slow down also. Friends and activities are put aside, basically  out of necessity, as concerns become more intense and necessary. Thoughts envelope the welfare of the patient, the care needed, and desperate prayers drown in pleas for the strength required to meet the eminent emergencies of each moment. 

Projects untouched 
This is my life with Dad. Often, I make plans for the little tasks I want to accomplish each day, yet find myself just sitting nearby, rubbing his hand as I watch his face. When I reflect on the day, I really don't know what filled the vaporized time from sunrise to sunset. Each morning, I make my lists for getting chores accomplish, but quickly give in to the desire to sit nearby, leaving projects untouched and waiting my attention. I am aware of the ticking of the clock, but the movement of its hands only remind me that the near presence of death pauses my activities and consider life.

There is no real explanation for what happens, but one's experience of sitting in a hospital room, anxiously watching a loved patient sleep, knows the feeling that describes the busy world stopping or maybe, at least, the sense that it moves on without you. 
There is real comfort in just sitting in the quiet room. The portal of death is honored as it causes all to patiently wait for the process of death to do its damage before real life triumphs. 
One must fight the settling in of discouragement by claiming the promises of God for life. A seed must die before life is produced. So it is with our own condition. Jesus died to give us life. So, in the process of this battle with death, it is pertinent to obey God's command:
"Stand still and Know that I am God".

Battle between life and death
Because of God's faithfulness, we have the potential to see life and beauty, even when the presence of Death becomes our backdrop. Gradually, we can accustom our eyes to focus on beauty, observing signs of new life, and experiencing peace in the darkest moments as we learn to stand still and know God is still Sovereign. 

Recently, I saw this conflict of life against death depicted most vividly in the quiet peace found in the VA cemetery. We visited my mom's grave as Spring was coming to life. The living scenes blossomed in gorgeous beauty among the final markings of death. Focus on nature portrayed God's intent for Creation, although, the backdrop displayed a subtle reminder of destruction promised by our original disobedience to God's Word. 
Yes, God remains faithful to His Word. Death brought into the world by man's choice can be pushed to the background by God's Life given to us through the death of His Son.
May you see beauty precede your darker backgrounds showing your knowledge of God's faithfulness. May you rejoice because Christ arose victorious over the grave!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Too Heavy

A sojourner meandered along the well-worn trail in deep thought, yet occasionally, he took moments to enjoy the surrounding beauty and the streaming rays of sun bouncing off the overhanging jagged rocks. He knew his Creator walked alongside, and offered praise for the delicate handiwork in little things he noticed lining the path. Throughout this trek, he had passed several other journeymen, lingering with them as he heard their responses concerning their welfare.

Now, he noticed a young man carrying a heavy burden, climbing the slope before them. He increased his pace in hopes to join him, and even hoped to relieve some of the burden from the hiker. As he drew near, he realized that the burden was a crippled young boy who clung tightly to his carrier's neck. The young man struggled beneath the weight, shifting it from side to side as he maneuvered the rock-laden path.
His offer of help met with a smile, but was declined because the little guy clung tighter at the sight of the stranger.  
"Isn't he heavy?" the sojourner asked the young man.
"Oh, no!" he exclaimed! "He's not HEAVY, he's my brother!"

I may not remember all the details of this short story, yet the response of the young man often comes to my mind in my present circumstances. I have the privilege of carrying my Dad added to my own personal journey  I realize many times that the care of my elderly Dad is often viewed by others as a heavy burden, and I admit, there are many days when my steps stagger beneath the weight. I often find not only my legs tired, but my arms sore by the many lifting tasks, and my back a little bent under the weight I must shift from side to side. In quiet moments as I consider all that transpired in the previous hours, my heart still rejoices at the gift God has given to me.
The task of my Dad's care is a joy for I have learned much.

My Dad's faith in the unseen God remains strong, yet the darkness of the valley of death overwhelms even this strength in the hours of pain. His spirit fights back when his physical mind wanders in confused pain and weariness. Words of hope and blessing in the Savior's Presence place a weak smile on the wrinkled face and his eyes still sparkle with testimony of God's faithfulness. Without a doubt in these last days, my Dad knows and often quotes from the ancient Job, "I know my Redeemer lives and on that day, shall STAND..."
What a glorious hope our Savior gave those who believe in Him! No matter how dark the valley, how rugged the path, how heavy the burden, the vision of the SON walking with us brings back our joy!

So, as I walk along this path with a true soldier of the cross trusting me to carry him over the rough spots, softening the blows of pain in the darkest of hours, refreshing with Scripture his weary soul and encouraging another step from arthritic limbs, I must respond with a weary smile - and often through tears...
"He's not heavy! He's my Dad!"

Thank you for your prayers and notes of encouragement.