It has been almost a month since I wrote on this blog - and it has been one of the toughest months I've known. My heart and my prayers go out to all 24/7 caregivers, especially those who deal with Dementia. It utterly robs one of energy, focus, strength and joy. But God. My ever-present God is my strength when I have no strength.
John's cognition and memory are steeply declining, and gestures are often used in place of absent words. But he still has a desire to do things to "help" around the house (mostly creating chaos) and he still pours over books even though he cannot comprehend them. Little pieces break off my heart several times a day. And at night I awaken several times and listen for his breathing. Last night in my bed I was pondering all these things and I thought to myself, "Surely this must be working something of value in my soul and spirit. Endurance? Perseverance? Perhaps it is building perseverance for a future time when God's people are being severely persecuted, threatened, even tortured for their faith. As I considered that word perseverance, the Spirit led me to a Scripture: "Consider it all joy when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
To be made "mature and complete." Ah yes! Here we are again in the days of Counting the Omer, the time between Passover and Pentecost. We make this journey every year between these two major Feast Days, and every year the Holy Spirit finds a way to remind me that this is the time we go from the barley harvest (the animal nature, or the flesh) to the wheat harvest (refined, and made complete in Messiah). Somehow, every year at this time, I truly do find myself on a journey of fighting my flesh and its selfish, comfort-seeking nature. Clearly I am not yet "complete, not lacking anything."
This process can never be made complete on my own, however. It cannot be made at all without the help of the Ruach haKodesh, the Holy Spirit, who is our Helper, our Teacher, and our Comforter. That thought leads me to Galatians 5:24-25: "Those who belong to Messiah Yeshua have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Suddenly a song I wrote many years ago titled "Keep on Walkin' in the Spirit" just burst forth! It was a toe-tappin' bluegrass kind of song that made you want to clap your hands and moved your heart to joy. That's it, isn't it? That is how we strengthen the inner man who has grown weak and tired of meeting others' needs, demanding to meet our own. We crucify those demands and re-focus on all that God is asking us to do. The Spirit performs heart surgery and suddenly we are singing some praises to God, keeping in step with the Spirit, and developing perseverance. It's a test of faith we are in. Perseverance must finish its work so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Kelly Ferrari Mills