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Friday, April 25, 2014

Preparing For Serving

Sometimes I am amazed by my life. I have been through challenges, sorrows, pain, and situations I would really rather not be part of. Yet God always uses those times when I least expect to minister to others. That's one of the reasons I love serving my Lord and Savior, Jesus. No one likes going through a crisis, but if it helps someone else somewhere, sometime, I can look on those times as jewels of opportunity. I would never wish bad things for my family and friends, but in life, some things are inevitable. If I have already been there, done that, I can listen with more understanding, more empathy, and maybe better advise.

When my Dad passed away, he left me as the only caregiver of my adopted Mom. For awhile she was able to stay in their apartment. She was lonely, grieving, and was not used to this life of one. Many nights, she would call me to come over, right now! 
 She fell, or she cut herself and was bleeding, or she needed help getting into bed.Then she started imagining she was really sick, so she would call the Rescue Squad. She needed me there every day, and she needed help more and more. She finally had to sell most of her furniture, and go to assisted living. It was a very pretty and new facility, but she was not there long. She eventually got pneumonia, went to the hospital, and then a nursing home. For five years, I had to make hard choices for her, and as she declined, my daily visits barely registered with her. I watched her decline, until she quit eating, and lapsed into a coma. I sat by her side, as she labored to breathe, and was with her when she took one last breath and died. God used that experience with aging to be there for my Mother-in-law as she began to need help too.

It was the same process, as we moved Mary close to us. For all of us, the day comes when our bodies don't respond the way they used to. Our minds become confused, and even simple tasks are monumental to achieve. It does not matter what life was like before, aging follows the same path through illnesses, or diseases, and leaves us needing extra help. At 95 Mary was still fairly active and self reliant. Then her health started to slowly decline. She needed my help more and more. She needed John to make more hard decisions for her care, and again the last stop was a nursing home. This time I knew what to expect as I visited her every day. John did everything to make her life more enjoyable. When she left us to go home to Jesus, we knew it was a blessing from God to have taken care of her.

In the last year God has used these times to help us reach out and serve others who are walking where we have walked. God never wastes our learning times. As God brings others in our path, we can share what He has taught us, we can feel their pain, sorrow, and yes, fears. The firestorm of aging, being in need, or being the caregiver, is real. Dealing with the end of a loved ones life is a journey no one wants to take, but there is help and hope. There are others who can and will come alongside, and help you through. Like us, they have walked this way, God will use the path others have taken, to lead you through whatever you are facing.