For my “summer vacation,” I’m on the scariest trip of all – a journey into the future. While many of you are off to the mountains or the beach, I am spending my days in a skilled nursing facility helping my mother while she recovers from a hip replacement.
Come on, how frightful can it be, you ask? Last night, one poor soul kept wailing the most mournful cry that echoed through the halls. I asked an aide if she was all right and was told that’s her nightly ritual. Then there’s the catatonic cluster parked in the glow of the T.V. that no one ever watches.
My mother, the most optimistic person I’ve ever met, said, “This place is spooky.”
When we travel to new lands, we always gain a fresh perspective. Here’s my take away from this sojourn back to the future – CONTROL FREAKS WILL NOT ENJOY OLD AGE. (Sorry about the bold and caps. I just wanted to make sure no one missed the point.)
My fourteen year old said, “I’m not afraid of death. I’m afraid of the five minutes before death.” As I visit the “Last Stop on the Life Train,” I understand what she means. Will I be ready for the five minutes, five months, or five years that might precede stepping through Heaven’s gate? How will I do when I have to check my independence (or illusion there of) at the registration desk, along with my valuables?
As followers of Christ, we talk a lot about our readiness for the hereafter, but are we preparing to graciously accept the season of “still here”?
Just like she has throughout my life, my mother is showing me how it’s done.
A question the elderly are asked repeatedly is, “Do you live alone?” To a widow, I think this would be like pouring salt in a wound, but Mom considers it an invitation to share her faith. Here’s her standard response: She warmly smiles and says, “I never feel like I live alone because the precious Holy Spirit is always with me. Do you know the Lord Jesus?” In just two sentences, she makes you hungry for the Gospel.
As the doctors explained all the risks of her surgery, she’d say, “Honey, I’m in a win-win situation. If it goes well, I get to walk again. If it doesn’t, I get to be with my Savior.”
When the pain becomes beyond excruciating, she moans, “I know this is nothing compared to what Jesus went through on the cross for me. He will help me bear this.”
My mom was born a control freak, like all the rest of us. So how did she become this fearless fount of faith? Forty-five years ago, she was transformed when she prayed a strange prayer sitting in her car in our driveway. She’d just left a Lay Renewal luncheon (she reluctantly attended), where a lady explained how to become a follower of Jesus. When she returned home, she (literally) moved into the passenger seat and asked Jesus to be the driving force in her life.
Mom says it was like meat tenderizer was sprinkled on her hard heart. She later found a Bible verse that described what God did to her: “… I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26
She was born again and the control freak in her passed away. “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3 (Read what happened to her shortly after she prayed that prayer in “A Wife’s Greatest Fear.”)
“I believe all of God’s promises in His word,” Mom told me this week. “It’s such an adventure to trust Jesus completely!” Seeing her ageless spirit emanating through an aged body wracked with pain, reminds me of a hymn she hummed throughout my childhood:
He leadeth me, O blessed thought!
O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me.
He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful foll’wer I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me. …
So this summer, I hope you enjoy your majestic mountains and your crashing waves, but I’m cherishing the most beautiful view of all – a sold out soul shining God’s love through the darkest night.
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32