The first blog in a series based on God calling us to live a Matthew 25:35-40 life.
Matthew 25: 35-40 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Sometimes God calls us to do things that are difficult and don’t make sense to the rest of the world. It’s one thing to care for a family member who becomes ill, as I did when my sweet husband was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It is quite another to dedicate your life to caring for a near stranger.
Multiple Sclerosis is a devastating disease. It was incomprehensible that a man that rode his bicycle 50 or more miles a day, would suddenly become paralyzed from the waist down. I cared for my husband at home, by myself, for as long as I could, but I was eventually forced to place him into the hands of a nursing home. After he had suffered three strokes, no longer knew who I was, and had been diagnosed with failure to thrive, I reluctantly and with great sorrow watched as he was moved to hospice care. He lasted 18 months after his initial diagnosis. Caring for him and watching him slip between my fingers was the most difficult thing I had ever had to face…until now. What I am about to tell you is the abridged version of this chapter of my life.
Two years after my husband died I decided that I did not want to live my life alone. I was ready. I would never stop loving my husband. I would never forget the love we shared, but I was ready to love again, to live again, to begin a new chapter of my life. I began my search with a prayer which needed to be altered after each dating experience.
I had no idea how to meet prospects for my new life adventure, so I did what some of my friends suggested. I went on a dating site, which was a roller coaster ride by itself, but it’s where I eventually met Bob. (I am using a false name to protect his identity.)
Dating at sixty was challenging, daunting and quite disheartening. There are a lot of wolves in sheep’s clothing out there who claim to be Christian and aren’t, so after many, many disappointments and scams, I gave God one last chance otherwise, I had decided I would stay alone for the remainder of my life.
That’s when God introduced Bob into my life. He was a retired Deputy Sherriff, so I figured he was safe. We hit it off and we found ourselves spending most of our time together. I noticed there was something odd about him though. He rarely blinked. I also noticed that as weeks went on, he wasn’t able to walk the same distances we did when we first met. We used to walk a couple of miles at a time but he had begun to falter even after a half a mile. I told him he should get checked out by a physician but he procrastinated.
A few months into our new relationship, while still getting to know each other, he called me in a panic. He was in an urgent care. He said his hand wouldn’t stop shaking. I knew in my gut and in my heart what was going on when he described his symptoms, but prayed I was wrong. I flew to be by his side, where my fears and diagnosis were confirmed. The Nurse Practitioner said he would need to see a neurologist and have testing done to confirm, but her diagnosis was the same as mine. I’m a nurse, so my background and instincts had kicked into high gear when he had called me with his symptoms. It was Parkinson’s.
Why hadn’t I pushed harder for him to be seen by a physician? I knew in my mind that it would not have made much difference. He had aquired this devistating disease long before I met him. His symptoms, however minute, were there. Sometimes we choose what we want to see and what we don’t want to see. We often ignor warning signs, shrugging off tiredness or if you’re staring more than usual, until a disease hits you between the eyes.
Facing a life altering, life threatening condition is overwhelming to say the least, but facing it ALONE is inconceivable. I can only imagine how he felt. There was definately denial, which was quickly followed by fear. I watched as this dear man came face to face with a reality that he wouldn’t have wished on his worst enemy. It was heartbreaking. Our relationship changed in a milisecond, in the punctuation that followed three life altering words…you have Parkinsons.
Here I was just getting to know this man. We had just begun, what seemed to be, a new exciting chapter in our lives. NOW WHAT? Do I say, ‘So sorry for what you’re going through, but I have a life to live. You know that I just went through this. I just watched my husband, who I had been with for 15 years, suffer and die before my eyes. I’ve only known you for a few months, so I wish you the best. You need to find someone else to help you, take care of you. I can’t do this again!’
How could he or anyone ask me to do this again? Well, GOD DID.
I followed Bob home that day. We talked some but he was tired, so I left and promised to return the next day. It was a long drive home, forty five minutes of crying, crying out to God,
“WHY GOD? WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?! Why would you do this to me…AGAIN? Why would you put this man in my life? You couldn’t find someone HEALTHY for me? God, don’t you remember what I just went through? I can’t watch another one disintegrate before my eyes. It’s too hard. It’s too much to ask”.
After a long weep, I realized that Bob didn’t even have faith to lean on. You see, when we first met, I had questioned Bob if he believed in God because this was number one on my list of criteria for dating. He had said yes. Problem was that during one of our first walks in the park, he disclosed his relationship with God. He had been brought up by a Jewish mother and a Christian father. He had unfortunately been bullied and was considered an outcast in both sects because he was not entirely one or the other. He new God. He knew of Jesus but had been bullied so much by so called Christians, that he didn’t believe in the Messiah. His mother was Jewish and he was very close to her, thus he leaned more towards Judaism.
I was devastated that he didn’t love the Lord who was at the center of my life. I nearly left before the relationship began, but he listened to me when I would speak of scripture and our Lord. He also accompanied me to a Messianic, Jewish Seder, so I felt there was hope…BUT NOW!!
I cried out, “God, Bob says that he believes in YOU, but he doesn’t know your son. I don’t know how much faith he has. How can he face this disease without knowing, believing, and being able to lean on you?”
It’s then, in that moment, driving in my car that God spoke to my heart.
“He knows you. He believes in you. You are my gentle voice. You are MY hands and the arms he will fall on. “
That’s when I heard his words whispering from scripture. “I was sick and you looked after me,” ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did (do) for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did (do) for me.’
I have been caring for Bob for over six years now. I never went back online to find a new love or my new chapter in my life. This was my new chapter. I didn’t stay with Bob to find love. I stayed because I was called to BE GOD’S LOVE. I was called to serve OUR LORD.
This is the first in a series on how I am attempting to live a Matthew 25:34-40 life. It isn’t easy and I fail a lot, but God is teaching me to have a servant’s heart, and that it is better to give than to receive.
I hope my journey blesses and encourages you to do the same. Hopefully as I write these, it will encourage and strengthen ME as well. Putting feelings and circumstances into words and proclaiming God’s glory in the midst of them, builds faith. Believing that you can do something when God calls you to, no matter if it makes sense to you or the world, is the act of Believing Outside the Box. It’s an act of FAITH.
Pray for me, Victoria