Sometimes being a caregiver is like working out with the toughest personal trainer, one who takes you to what you think your limits are and then pushes you past those limits into another strength category. And I often wish life weren’t this way for anyone. I wish we could all live simple, peaceful, healthful, joyful lives in summerlike conditions every day—where no one ever gets sick and no one ever grows old and no one ever lacks for anything.
I wish for perfection. And I know it will indeed be that way up ahead, when we’re in Heaven. While here though, I take comfort in His words (from the sixteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, from the Amplified version): “In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]”
As I take a little break from Facebook during this Lenten/Easter season, I’m focusing more on Him—studying Scripture, enjoying His Presence, using the gifts He’s given, creating new stories, listening, choosing to make my “self” take a backseat to let Him lead and teach me. It’s incredible what happens when you go after Him with all your heart, with your entire being, breathing… Circumstances may constrict us in certain ways, but in spite of that, He gives such freedom…the type where you can relax and trust and laugh and hope and believe that all His promises are gold.
Last week, on a day when I was just plain tired (not from caregiving, but just from not managing my own schedule well enough), my emotions hit me and I felt so alone. I cried to Him, while telling Him I knew that basically I was “just tired,” but that sometimes I didn’t think I could go on…because it’s excruciatingly painful knowing that someday I will have to let go of my mother’s hand on this side of life, so that Jesus can take her hand on the other side… Even with the Holy Spirit helping you here, it’s never easy to take these steps, even when you have a supportive nursing and pastoral team. I hate death so much…
But there I was, gathering items in the bathroom, getting ready to wash and change my mom at bedtime, stopping for a minute to cry and chat with Jesus. I also told Him that I didn’t know what “carrying your cross” really meant, since He said (in Matthew 11:30, Amplified): “For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” I told Him that I wanted to put my “self” at His leading, and that I wanted Him to teach me.
In stillness, with my hands on the lotions and disposables and cloths for Mom, I heard in my spirit, “Turn on the TV…” A gentle prodding again… “Turn on the TV…” Those of you familiar with the Holy Spirit’s sweet, peaceful leading know that He does indeed speak in this way. And it’s exciting.
After going back into Mom’s room, I turned off the radio and turned on the television. I had to smile, because the person who was speaking was Arthur Blessitt, a man who’s carried a twelve-foot cross around the world for forty-five years…to tell people about Jesus. The “carrying the cross” aspect wasn’t lost on me. And then he said that if you think you can’t go on, no matter what the challenge is, know that it’s your mind telling you that—and that you can go on, with Jesus helping you, one step at a time. I needed to hear that, and Jesus knew it. How sweet and attentive and encouraging is this Savior of ours!
Over the next couple of days, pieces of Scripture and commentary seemed to leap off the pages and into my “self,” causing my “self” to want to sit at the feet of Christ more often and be taught by Him, gobbling up all His words as if eating a luscious vegetarian meal. Or a really good pizza. Or a bowl of organic strawberries and pink grapefruit slices. Or drinking a tall glass of cool water on a really hot day during summertime. Refreshing and satisfying…
Even an email showed up with the title “Carrying Your Cross.” It was from a daily devotional I subscribe to, but don’t always stop to read. I read this one. And the explanation made sense, stating that a cross leads to death, not in the physical sense, but in allowing the Holy Spirit to transform your “self” into all He has for you, to choose to let Him lead you, while choosing to let your “self” take the backseat, one step at a time, through life.
Also interesting was the timing of all this. My brother and nephew visited unexpectedly from out of town the very next day, and my brother and I went to see the movie Son of God. It was another reminder, a very visual reminder, of all that Christ has done for us. There, bigger than life on that screen, I saw His Love… A portrayal of Jesus that showed the Sacrificial Lamb, One who was not taken and crucified, but who willingly gave His Life so that we could live forever… This movie did a wonderful job portraying Jesus as both the gentle Lamb and the warrior King who entered our world as one of us, blessed us with His Holy Spirit, and who’ll return again at the appointed time.
The last scene pulled at my heart tremendously… There was John, an older man now, and in exile… And Jesus appeared, with the same captivating smile I saw in a dream vision once…
“There will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain…” (Revelation 21:4)
“Behold I make all things new!” (Revelation 21:5)
Promises as beautiful as gold…