Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Insight Into Grace

I was thinking yesterday about my caregiving for my dad.

So often he resents my efforts to help him. Sometimes he actually thinks I am threatening him. Sometimes it isn't me but something else external such as someone on television or thunder or the sound of rain. He is still able to do quite a few things for himself. My goal in caring for him is to help him sustain as much independence as possible. I do it because I love him.

My goal has never been complete safety for him. If it had been then we would not live in his home because of the stairs. But he was very clear that he wanted to live out his days in this home that he and my mother together built here. He knew there were risks. He and my mother cared for my grandmother until the last few months of her life. So they were informed.

And my parents were very practical people. When my grandmother's care became just too much for them they reluctantly placed her in a nursing home. They learned that placement alone does not solve all problems. The first two homes could not keep track of my grandmother. It was not all the fault of the homes either. She appeared to be a frail little woman with barely sufficient strength to hold her head up. But on occasion she managed to find a reserve of vitality that allowed her to jump over gates and begin her journey home. She only ever wanted to go home and was always seeking that.

Dad does things now that are so out of character for him that we know they are caused by the disease. He would be appalled if he knew. But that's the thing: he doesn't know.

That is where the insight occurred.

We humans have a kind of spiritual dementia I think. We are born with it. It isn't as bad at the beginning but it progresses as we age. But even at the best we are spiritually incompetent - dead according to the Holy Scripture. We would make good spiritual decisions but we cannot because we have this spiritual dementia.

I don't precisely understand spiritual dementia or what it means to be left in that state. For that matter I don't precisely understand physical dementia either. But I do know what happens physically if Alzheimer's and other dementia conditions continue. At some point the patient loses the ability to walk. Total incontinence occurs. Weight loss starts and continues despite the best efforts to stop it. Total helplessness follows. And eventually even the autonomic brain functions cease. Finally the body can no longer continue and physical death occurs.

But for reasons that I will never fully comprehend, at least in this physical life, The Living God loved me so much that He drew me to Him through His Son, The Lord Jesus. I like to think I would have chosen to trust Him had I not been spiritually demented. Regardless though He undertook my care Himself.

Now just like my dad sometimes resents me when I am trying to help him I am quite certain that I also resent and struggle against The Lord. And there are spiritual things that frighten me because I do not understand them just as my dad sometimes thinks the people on TV are in the room with him.

And just as I try my best to serve my father out of love, then The Lord Jesus shepherds me out of love. Except that He is perfect in His efforts and mine far from it.

I am eternally and ever grateful to the great caregiver - Jesus, my Savior.

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