Monday, August 26, 2013

God's Plan

I am well acquainted with the life story of a woman who was born on August 24, 1947.  Hence, she just turned sixty-six years old a couple days ago.  Her life has been a fairly simple life.  She was born in IA of parents of humble means.  She also lived in South Dakota and Minnesota as a child growing up.  Her childhood was not marked with popularity or extraordinary talent.  Sometimes childhood was difficult in fact.  She was blessed, however, with parents who regularly took her to churches which were based on God's Word.

After graduating form college she moved to Wisconsin where she married her husband in 1971.  He was the love of her life.  They raised three sons.  There were struggles from time to time during the child rearing ears.  Yet they clung to their God and to each other.  These three sons eventually married and had children of their own.  This was a blessing to the woman and her husband.

In 2006 this woman's husband was diagnosed with a devastating neurological illness.  The next four and a half years were a struggle, as she watched her husband deteriorate step by step.  In the meantime in 2007 she herself was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through eight months of treatment.  This woman often felt as if she was too weak for the assignment of care-giving.  She felt so inadequate for the task.  She didn't understand why God had allowed it.  Yet that was a good place to be, for it taught her that she needed to depend on the Lord.  It taught her that strength could be found in the Lord alone.

Since her husband's death in very early 2011 she has had to learn many new lessons of dependence on the Lord.  She has learned that the Lord has been with her all the way.  She has learned that God has always had a plan for her life and has good plans for her future life.  These may not be the plans she would have chosen, but this is the path that was given her to tread.  It is a path that God wants her to tread with joy even when the path is rugged and difficult.  She also knows that the Lord has an eternal home ready for her but only after her work on earth is finished.  She knows the Lord has ordained the number of days she will live on this earth, as He did her husband's days on earth.  (Psalm 139:16)  She often succumbs to fear, but she remembers that God has told her not to fear.  Hence, she seeks to rest in the Lord and not fear the future.  She remembers how much the Lord loves her and even delights in her.  She remembers that God has said He will never leave her or forsake her and that God is in her future.

Dear caregiver, I am sure by now you have guessed that the woman I am referring to in this post is I, the author.  Dear caregiver, the Lord is working in your life also.  He is with you step by step.  He is also in your future.  Nothing happens even the difficult moments that are not filtered through His love.  Trust your future to Him.  Rest in Him.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Lord is in Your Tomorrows

Dear Christian caregiver, the Lord has promised to always be with you. His presence in your life is a forever-promise. Your future and the future of your loved one for whom you are caring may be very uncertain, but you need not fear that future. The Lord is already in that future, dear caregiver. 

He will always take care of you, dear Christian caregiver. He will also always take care of your loved one for whom you are caring. God may choose to heal your loved on this earth. God, on the other hand, may at some future date decide to take your loved one home to heaven, as He took my dear husband home to heaven on January 2, 2011. Either way He is with you caring for your needs, and He is caring for the needs of your loved one.

Your future and the future of your loved one, dear caregiver, is in His hands; if you both have accepted Him as your Lord and Savior. He releases that future to you day by day and moment by moment. The Bible tells us not to worry about our tomorrows. (Check out Matthew 6:34 in the Bible.) He promise that He will never leave or forsake us. (Now check out Hebrews 13:5b.)

The difficulties and stresses of care-giving are overwhelming at times, but the Lord may be using your experiences to train you to focus on the present and not the future. He may be using your experiences to train you to focus on His Presence in your life.   

Monday, August 12, 2013

Caregiver Worries

There are many stresses and challenges which accompany being a family caregiver. This is especially true for the caregiver who is caring for a loved one who has a long standing terminal illness. It is easy for the caregiver to fall into the pit of fear and discouragement. There can be fears and worries about just getting through the day and also for the future. I remember experiencing these stresses and fears as a caregiver of my husband.

The Lord God wants us to release those worries to Him. This is so very difficult to do when the challenges are so overwhelming. In the measure we release those worries to the Lord and seek Him the more we will experience His peace, however. 

The Lord God loves you with an everlasting love, dear Christian caregiver. Our minds can not fully comprehend His unfailing love. Our emotions often fluctuate and falter in the face of difficult circumstances. I know this was true of me as a caregiver and is also true of me since my care-giving days. God’s love and faithfulness always remains constant, however. Cling to that, dear Christian caregiver. 

Remember too, dear caregiver, that God is sovereign over your life and the life of your loved one for whom you are caring. He is in control. Caregivers have to manage so many things for their loved ones. They not only have to care for their love one’s needs, but they also often have to be their loved one’s advocate. As a caregiver I sometimes felt as if I was the only one who cared about my husband’s well-being. Perhaps you feel the same way, dear caregiver. This can be a lonely feeling. 

Know, however, dear caregiver, that God is in control. Trust Him for your and your loved one’s future. Also thank Him each day for blessings that are still in your life. Trust and thankfulness are the keys to peace. Is not that a better alternative to worry and wringing of one’s hands which does absolutely no good? 

Trust the Lord, dear caregiver. Give Him your worries and concerns for your loved one. He is in control, and He will be faithful to you all the way.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Potter

God often teaches us spiritual truths in the Bible through the use of parables or living pictures. In Jeremiah 18:1-6 God gave the prophet, Jeremiah, a living picture. God did this to help Jeremiah understand an important spiritual truth. God told Jeremiah to go down to the potter’s house, and there God promised to give Jeremiah a message. In Jeremiah’s day one could not go down to the local retail store to buy a bowl, vase, or pot. One had to go to the potter’s house. The potter would start with a lump of clay. The potter would then put that lump of clay on a potter’s wheel; and with the touch of his hands he would form the clay into a beautiful vase, bowl, or pot of some kind. Sometimes the potter made something that did not please him, or the vessel was ruined in his hands. This may have happened because some impurities had not been removed, or perhaps a piece of unwanted material in the clay would not yield to the work that was being done on the potter’s wheel. If that happened, the potter would smash the pot and remake it over and over until it was a vessel pleasing to him.

The Lord God is the Potter in our lives, and we are the clay in His hands. He is in sovereign control of our lives, and He controls all the events of our lives. All the events of our lives are used to make us more like Jesus. God especially uses problems, difficulties, and trials in our lives to mold us into the kind of people who truly reflect the Lord Jesus. The Lord wants to bring us ever closer to the center of His will. This is also true about the difficult challenges and trials of family care-giving. Difficulties teach us to not rely on our own self-effort and devices. Difficult times in our lives teach us to rely and trust only on the Lord. This became abundantly clear to me when I was a caregiver for my husband. His disease was incurable. It was out of my control. The only recourse was to seek to rely and trust in the Lord.

Difficulties in our lives also help to remove the impurities of sin from our lives, and they help us to grow in our love relationship with the Lord. When spiritual impurities come into our lives the Lord God recreates and molds our lives to be more in tune with His will. Our prayer to God should be that He will make us into beautiful vessels of purpose for Him. When we fail and allow spiritual impurities into our lives we need to pray that the Lord will take us back to His Potter’s wheel. We need to pray that the Lord will then reshape us and form us into something more beautiful for Him. From the broken fragments of our lives the Lord can make us into beautiful vessels for Him!

From experience I know the pressure of family care-giving can feel overwhelming and unbearable at times. We must not fight against or question the Lord’s molding of our lives, however. We need to pray that each touch of the Lord’s hand on our lives will help us to become whom He wants us to become. The Lord knows just the right amount of pressure to put on our lives. We also must remain thankful for how He has made us and thankful for how He is working and leading in our lives! We must persevere in our willingness to submit to the Lord's will. We must be submissive to the Lord even in trials and difficult times in our lives. The Lord has promised to be with us all the way.

Finally, we must also ask the Lord for the filling of the Holy Spirit’s power and the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We must yearn for the Lord to control our lives completely every hour and every day! The words to this song need to be our prayer each day: "Lord, You’re the Potter. I am the clay. Mold me and make me in Your own way. Take me and break me, Savior, I pray, into a vessel of honor today."

Dear caregiver, trust you life and your care-giving journey to the hand of the great Potter. He know what He is doing even when the path becomes very difficult.