My sister is struggling with memory loss. After being at Wellspring since February of 2017, she is still not able to find her own room. While she still recognizes some close family members, she has forgotten many people who were significant in her life. She knows she has a home in Millington, but does not remember what it looks like. Repeatedly she has been asked if she knows the president or the year. Both remain a mystery. She does not know her age and is often uncertain about the number of siblings she had. I only share these things so you are able to understand the extent of her memory loss. Alzheimer’s can quickly strip us of the memory of most everything that is important to us.
Recently she was hospitalized for the first time in her life. She was born at home and has managed to escape being in the hospital, for any reason, for all 84 years of her life. Even though she was quite unaware of her surroundings and all the procedures leading up to getting a pacemaker, she was a bit uneasy when she was being wheeled toward the room where she would be prepped for surgery. I had explained things to her the best I was able. I was allowed to be with her until she actually entered the operating room. When I noticed her uneasiness, I gently called her name and asked God to give me words that would bring her peace. Calmly, I spoke these words, “Irene, you’re going to be ok. Remember: the Lord is your shepherd, you have everything you need.” I was totally shocked when she immediately responded with, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul, He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me…” She went on to perfectly recite the entire 23rd Psalm in the King James Version.
I was comforted. I was at peace. I learned an important lesson. I learned it is more important to know your Shepherd than it is to know the President. It is more important to know you have a home in heaven than to know what your earthly home looks like. Peace is found by resting in the arms of Jesus rather than being able to find where you are supposed to sleep on earth. Our memories last a lifetime (and sometimes not our whole life), but living with Jesus lasts forever.
While my prayers for her and the surgeon continued, I also paused to thank God for Christian parents and the Lutheran school where she learned those words. The teacher that put forth those efforts has likely been in heaven for some time now, but the important things he taught her continue to be a blessing to her. Most of the teachers who taught me God’s Word are also in heaven, but I rarely teach a Bible story without recalling how they were presented to me by my teachers. They used a flannel graph; I use a Promethean Board. God uses faithful teachers, His sharper-than-a-two-edged-sword Word, and the Spirit’s ability to implant faith to grow His Kingdom one heart at a time. How blessed we are to be called to do that!
Thankfully, most will not see their children when they have Alzheimer’s. Most of us will not sit at the deathbed of our students. Or will we? You see, those seeds of the Word of faith God enables us to share so the Spirit can plant them in the hearts of our children, will be there every day. We especially pray that they will be aware of them on the days they need them most.
It really is, and always will be, about Jesus! Learn from Him. Teach with Him. Rest in Him, because the Lord is your shepherd. You have everything you need.
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