When they were preparing to leave one of them mentioned that she had included a newspaper article on some new memory care research. She then bluntly described how the article related the normal life expectancy of an individual suffering with Alzheimer’s. I could see where this conversation was going so I quickly interjected the more encouraging time period that our specialist has seen through her years of experience and then paused and laughed while I placed my hand on my wife’s leg. When I had their attention I then declared that “Nah… she’ll probably outlive all of us.”
Then in an attempt to build some faith in them, I briefly related some things we had heard at church about recounting the faithfulness of God in our past in order to keep our faith strong in the present. Following this I shared the verse from Psalm 118:17 that I believe the Lord had given my wife where it says that “I will not die, but I will live and tell what the Lord has done” (God’s Word ©) and I stated again how the Lord is not done with her yet!
Their reaction to my words was a little puzzling. One immediately looked very thoughtful and said, “Hummm, that is interesting. I hadn’t heard that before,” and the other immediately stood to his feet and said, “Come on my dear, it’s time to go!” After they left and I closed the door, I paused in thought for a moment and then stated to my wife that “they have no faith for your healing at all and we can expect no encouragement for our stand to come from them.”
Earlier this morning as I was reading about revivals on college campuses in the US from the 1800’s into the early 1900’s, I began to think about and then write down some phrases concerning true revival. One item I wrote down was that "revival starts at home." Then out of seemingly nowhere I heard the words that “revival is not clinical, it’s of the heart.” The term “clinical” really captured my attention so I looked it up on an online dictionary. It was described as “involving or based on direct observation of the patient, very objective, devoid of emotion, scientifically detached, austere and anticeptic, cold and dispassionate.” (The Free Dictionary by Farley)
That described to a tee the way that my wife’s immediate family has reacted to the attack on her health. And I realized this morning that this is precisely why it has been so confusing and frustrating to me. My wife and I and our children have always lived a passionate life. That is why we’ve been free to step out and experience things in this life that others questioned us about. It is the way I always moved in ministry.
I’ve probably shared this before, but it is worth repeating… I once had the mother of one of our students in Children’s Church and later in the youth ministry share with me that her daughter confided in her at one point that she did not understand me. They were a somewhat reserved family and she did not know how to take my constant enthusiasm and gregarious behavior while I ministered to the class. Then one night after their family watched the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” the daughter turned to her Mom and stated that “Now I understand Pastor Jim!”
I am not sure if it is due to my Italian ancestry or a gift from the Lord, but that’s just who I am and the way I do things. I always wanted my students to experience the fun, the emotion and the passion in their relationship with God. It is this passion that I am striving to engulf myself in right now in the midst of my wife’s battle and ensuing victory in her health situation. And it is very disconcerting for me to see those whom I thought would also desire the passion of God, especially those close to my wife, in her time of deepest need, respond with a clinical approach to the situation.
Now, I understand that it is a wall of protection that they have raised, but it just seems so contrary to the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ that they originally introduced me to over 40 years ago. But I guess in the end, one of the important lessons I’ve learned through this experience is once again that “Christ gives meaning to your life…” (Colossians 3:4 CEV).
My dependence and my reliance need to be found in Christ and not in those around me, no matter how deep the family or friend connection. He will never neglect or abandon us. (see Joshua 1:5). So… I’ll leave you today with this one word of insight that Joshua spoke to the children of Israel at the end of his days saying: “choose this day whom ye will serve… but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15 KJV)
Have a great day. Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What am I expecting today?”
PS: Today is our youngest son’s 26th birthday! Happy and blessed birthday Jeremy. May the Lord continue to richly bless you as you seek to serve Him with all your might and passion!