My father turned 82 today.
Two years ago we found out that he was in Stage 4 kidney failure, and he quickly progressed to end-stage, requiring dialysis to survive. While the damage done to his body cannot be reversed, being hooked up to a machine to rid his body of the toxins has prolonged his life. Watching him go through this painful process, I have learned a few lessons on living–and on dying.
I. You can’t go back. Although if you were to meet my mother today, you might think that you can. She lives with dementia from a stroke she had two years ago, and her distant memory is much clearer than it has ever been, while her recent memories are lost. Focusing on the past has brought her great sorrow. While reminiscing can be a good thing, sometimes we allow the hard things to dominate our thoughts. Hurt, loss, grief, fear, missed opportunities and regrets can cause us to dwell in a dark place. While my mother cannot always control her thought process, I can.
I can choose to walk around in the dark or I can look for the the light.
II. Gratitude changes our perspective. While we can’t change our past and sometimes have no control over our present circumstance, we can be thankful. We never have to pretend to enjoy suffering, but even in the midst of our struggle or sorrow, we can look for ways to be grateful. Yes, my mother has dementia, but her stroke has brought us closer and those distant memories she has–those are stories that I have never heard in my life. Dad is suffering because of kidney failure, and watching him deteriorate has been really hard–he is a fiercely independent man brought to tears by the unconditional love of his children as we try to demonstrate it in tangible ways. If he had been taken from us suddenly, we would have not had this opportunity to show him how much we love him.
III. Faith matters. It doesn’t get any more simple than that. With riled up emotions, my spirit calmed me as I tried in vain to discuss this simple truth with my skeptic father. Facing the end of his life, he chooses to believe that death is just the end. You go to sleep and don’t wake up. In his opinion, this life is all you get, and he certainly does not like some of the cards he has been dealt. So life is a game of poker and some unlucky blokes just get stuck in debtor’s prison? Why then, can some face some of life’s hardest blows and still have abiding joy? Because faith matters. It changes our perspective and our purpose. It affects our attitude and our actions–and it gives us hope and the promise of heaven.
IV. Perspective is everything. If we choose to live for the moment, believe what we want, or act as though life is all about accumulating stuff, we will miss what life is really all about. God created each of us with the propensity to choose our own path. His desire is that we would choose to love Him. We can stumble through life, struggling to navigate its twists and turns like a mystery novel that never ends, or we can look to the Author of Life and find direction and hope and meaning.
Every book has an ending, and while your story is still being written, why not open His Story and seek Him? He is waiting and watching for you.
[The beloved hymn, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” is attributed to Indian Christian Missionary, Sadu Sundar Singh, who was referred to as “the apostle with the bleeding feet”.]
Want to know more about trusting Him in faith? Click on FAITH to learn more… and then open your Bible and search the Scriptures for yourself. Jesus is waiting.
“…though none go with me, I still will follow; no turning back, no turning back!”