I think one of the hardest things that I have had to deal with as the effects of Alzheimer’s continues to encroach upon my lovely wife, is the lack of interaction that we are able to have with each other. We have always been very close. I don’t think that either of us was ever at a lack for words when we’ve been together. It seemed that there was always something to share, a word of encouragement, a scripture, a dream, a laugh or a simple smile. In many ways we have almost always been in one accord… of a single mind! So when I needed to start making decisions for her care in the early stages of the life situation we now find ourselves in, it wasn’t difficult for me to ‘know’ what she would want, what would bless her the most, and what would work best for the two of us as we ventured down this never-before exploration in our lives.
It used to irk me a bit when a few people close to us would question my decisions asking “Well, what does Piper say or think about this?” I guess I figured that after all the years that they had known us, that they would have understood the closeness of our relationship. These folks though, were the exception rather than the rule as most of our friends were cognizant of our special relationship and totally backed and encouraged us in the directions we were taking.
I think that you could probably say that Piper and I have sort of ‘abided’ in and with each other for the majority of the 47 years we’ve been together. It is like the other day when I was thinking of some of the encouragements that Piper would send my way when I was having a tough time or maybe getting a little crabby (Yep… even I have been known to get out-of-sorts sometimes!), and I laughed out loud and mentioned to her that “You know me like a book, young lady! You probably know me better than I know myself!” She always knew how I think, how I would respond to different stimuli and what worked best to calm me down and lift me up!
Jesus prayed along a similar line of thought concerning his followers (ie; you and me!) in the garden of Gethsemane as the events of His crucifixion, death and resurrection began to unfold. After asking His Father to protect them while they existed in this world, He made an interesting request saying: “Sanctify or set them apart THROUGH thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17 KJV)
When I continued to study from this portion of scripture yesterday and today I was captivated by the phrase “through thy truth.” As I began to muse on this I looked up the word ‘through” in the original Greek and discovered that it implies “being in a fixed position or instrumentality.” (Strong’s) Once I saw this I thought about Jesus’ words in John 15:7 when He taught “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done to you.” (MKJV) As it turns out, the word “abide” has similar characteristics as “through” in the previous verse we looked at meaning “to stay in a given place, state, or relation or expectation. To continue to be present or kept continually” (Strong’s and Thayer’s)
To me it seems that both of those words constitute a continuous action on our behalf. We are not just set apart and empowered ‘by’ the Word of God, but THROUGH our present, fresh or current abiding in it! Just like in my relationship with Piper. Through our constant, present tense, and fresh abiding with each other, we have become one in knowing and understanding each other. I believe that is one reason we have always been an excellent team! Whether it was running the yearly VBS at church, ministering to the youth at church or up in the Redwoods on a special retreat weekend or even opening up our house for the extended family gatherings during the holidays, we always tended to operate very smoothly, without contention and usually with wide smiles on our faces.
I believe that this is also the type of relationship that Jesus is instructing us to have with Him through an active, present tense and always fresh abiding in His Word. This type of teamwork produces a unity or oneness that is never wondering what the other might be thinking or doing, whether they are judging us or not and whether our actions are pleasing to the other.
I was telling Piper last night how much it meant to me in the past whenever I would see her come into a room where I was, or into the store I was working in or sitting in the congregation as I preached to the youth or adults at church. It was always like a breath of fresh air, a shot of adrenaline, and a personal encouragement to me that goes beyond my ability to explain!
Over these past ten years as we have walked this road through the valleys of Piper’s physical needs, I have also experienced those same feelings as I have repeatedly seen answers to our prayers, miracles and moments of loving-kindness and undeserved grace that only Jesus can give to those of us who endeavor to stay in a current and fresh relationship with Him THROUGH His Word.
What about you? Do you have similar experiences? We’ll explore this subject a little deeper in our next blog post… But if you feel some lack in this department, it only takes a commitment to regular time in the Word and prayer with an attitude of expectation, to start or re-stroke the fires of oneness with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Have a great mid-week, and as you do keep asking yourself… “Am I living in a fresh, abiding expectancy with God?”