The grace to walk serenely in faith
I love lists. And my life is full of lists. I have lists of things to do. I have lists of improvements to do around the house. I have lists of things to read and lists of things to write. I have lists for work and lists for just about everything. I enjoy reading lists especially if they are lists I don’t have to do.
Recently I was given a portion of my grandmother’s journal to read. And there I found this list:
“My thanksgiving is endless as I face this new year. I live even though death has beckoned me many times – a cup of kerosene, a muddy creek, fire, a frisky colt, a speeding train, a car wreck, weakness after surgery, and even cancer. Yet I live to face my 85th year with trust in God, a thinking mind, and good health. Whatever this year may hold, I pray God gives me grace to walk serenely in faith. That prayer gives me joy balance.” Written by ADS in 1992
My first reaction was amazement. This is her journal that she wrote down one day? It seems very edited and polished to me. How many years will I need to be able to write such polished beautiful prose? Then the meaning behind the list soaked in. I asked my mom about the many times my grandmother almost died. I don’t remember a fire, there was a fire? When was the speeding train? She was in a car wreck?
It was just two years after she wrote this she discovered she had pulmonary fibrosis. That was the beginning of 4 years of gradual failing of health. From the perspective of history it amazes me how God prepared her heart for the years ahead. God answered her prayers and she was given the grace to walk serenely in faith. And she managed much joy.
I look to my life and how I am handling my experiences. So many times I don’t look at the bumps in the road as opportunities to see God’s grace work in my life. I don’t move forward serenely in faith. And where did I misplace my joy?
My daughter married a wonderful man who looks at life so much like my grandmother. It seems like life whaps him in the side of the head with so many setbacks. But the next morning he gets up and he pores over his notebook of songs that he is writing. He spends hours creating the music for those songs. He has spent hours providing a place in the house where his band can practice without bothering the neighbors.
He spends hours on the phone with insurance, disability and doctors trying to make sure he gets the medication he needs. He tries to help with the house cleaning, the cooking, the shopping and fixing the small things that are broken or worn out. He loves my daughter with all his heart. And through it all, he knows that God is watching out for him. He doesn’t understand why he has MS but he knows that God has not left his side. That steadfastness is an encouragement to me.
My father has developed dementia and my mother has become his main caretaker. Their lives are changing greatly. They are moving to be closer to my brother in another state. They are leaving their home, their routine, their church, and their friends. But this is necessary. And yet, they reach out to God and know that he is there. They are holding on to his hand and they see the joy he has for them.
My father-in-law has also developed dementia and my mother-in-law has become his main caretaker. And while their lives have changed so much already they will still change more in the future. Because of their insurance and retirement constraints they have expressed a desire not to move closer to my husband and me. But they do not have a church family or a network of friends to help. So I am spending a week every 6-8 weeks at their house.
I am amazed at how she struggles to stay there and do it herself. I pray that God gives her the courage to take the next steps in asking for help. I also pray that God gives her the strengthening joy every day that she needs to perform the same tasks every day.
In comparison, my life is not filled with the same kinds of challenges I see around me. But I see these challenges constantly in my family. They hang on to God and his promises with very tight fists. They will not let go of God and how he protects them. They know God loves them. They know God is with them in every step they take. They take the same attitude that Paul did in 2 Corinthians (one of my favorite lists in the bible):
“We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.” Taken from 2 Corinthians 4:7-12
Lord, help me today to be thankful for my life and the things you have given me. Give me courage to face this day and the challenges before me. Let me see the joy that you provide for me in every situation. Show me how you are providing for me today. And let me be an example for those in my life as my family is an example for me.
Check out my son-in-law’s band (my other daughter is in it too) on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Letters-of-Harmony/266166746789748).
Check out my mom’s blog (http://emilysiemenscombs.blogspot.com) and the history site where you can see some of my grandmother’s writing (http://emilys-snippets.com).