For some reason, I found myself singing silly songs and making funny comments as I Fiver and I took our morning walk along the golf course next to our house. At one point I stopped and looked down at Fiver who had also paused after sniffing out a scent and then marked it as his possession, and I noticed the questionable look on his face. So, I let out a laugh and said “I guess your human Dad has the funnies today!” And like it was normal business, he turned and kept on walking toward the park… although, I could have sworn that he shook his head a little!
We noticed a new dog in the neighborhood over the weekend when we walked through the narrow section of the path between the backs of a row of homes and the beautiful golf course opposite them. As we approached the new neighbors, their backdoor opened and the midsized black dog came running out. I told Fiver that we were going to have to name him, so we came up with the original name of “Newbie.” When he got down to the fence near us, Fiver started to get a little excited and began to pull toward his new friend(?). So, without missing a beat, I began to speak softly to Fiver and pull the fancy harness we have in order to keep him under my control. Then the funnies hit me again and I began to tell Fiver how this was HIS neighborhood and that he was “BOSS DOG” and had to set the right example for the new kids on the block!
Well, that brought me to a more serious note, and I began to think about how long we’ve actually been here. As it turns out, we’ve been in our new home for close to nine months but have lived in Oklahoma for over a year now… and that is when it hit me!
In a flash of a moment, I began to consider how drastically my life has changed over the last ten years. Ten years ago, we were still living what I would consider to be the basic foundation of the life we lived since we were married in 1975. We were living in our home town, renting a little house (also next to a golf course… hummm, maybe I should consider learning how to play the game!) I was working a full-time secular job and also held a part-time staff position at our church. So, in that respect everything was close to normal… except that Piper was past the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s and was being drawn deeper and deeper into it’s devastating clutches.
In the mid-summer of that year, I finally quit my full-time job as it was increasingly evident that Piper needed me at home with her 24/7. From there, the changes came in rapid succession. It wasn’t all that long after that when I had to resign from my ministry position and focus my complete attention on my wife’s care. From then on… up to and including today, we began our journey of faith in our total dependence on the Lord for EVERYTHING!
And WOW… What a ride it has been! I should add the caveat of what a “GOOD” ride it has been! Through all the painful ups and downs of the past decade, the GOOD Lord has repeatedly proven Himself to be grace-fully TRUE to His Word. If I had to choose one over-all verse to best describe our faith and His faithfulness, it would be found in Philippians 4:19 where the Apostle Paul unhesitatingly told his giving friends in Philippi that “I am convinced that my God will fully satisfy every need you have, for I have seen the abundant riches of glory revealed to me through the Anointed One, Jesus Christ!” (The Passion Translation)
Every time I have read that verse over the years of my adult life, I am always amazed that Paul wrote this epistle, his greatest letter of hope, encouragement and joy to his friends, when he was in what most Biblical scholars consider to be the most hopeless situation of his life. And just like people have asked me since Piper’s passing, I often wondered if Paul’s faith was shaken because of the dire situation he was in. But then, like me, I also understand that the answer is an unequivocal NO… but in fact, was such a situation that found his faith to be strengthen by the tremendous turmoil because his faith, like ours, was only bolstered because of the solid foundation his personal belief in the LOVE of GOD gave him, so as to NEVER cause (or allow) his trust in God to waiver!
In many respects, those last ten years are a complete BLURR to me. At times, I find myself sitting in my home and thinking, “Where am I?” “Where have I been?” “What happened to my sweet Piper?” and “Where do I go now?”
But after all those questions, I quickly revert to my knowledge of His faithfulness and I find myself comforted, in peace and full of His joy! I may not have all the answers. I may not like what we had to go through, and I certainly HATE the fact that Piper is no longer at my side.
But I do rest in the FACT that God knows me and loves me with the same type of intimacy that Piper and I enjoyed over the 48 years of our time together. And with that heart “knowing” I KNOW that His perfect plan for me is continuing to unfold before me… as I continue to trust in Him for EVERYTHING!