During the course of my Christian walk, God has been faithful to introduce women into my life. These women have served as role models and persons whose lives I would hope to emulate.
One such woman was a “back door” neighbor, advanced in years and she lived behind us in our small Home Town Community in
Oh, we didn’t attend the same church, but we found our common thread in our
faith. I would be outside working in the garden and here she would come bearing
gifts of vegetables or flowers from her own garden along with pearls of wisdom
and home-spun humor.
Her husband had owned the “mom & pop” hardware store in the community until his retirement. As the years progressed, so did his Alzheimer’s. He often wandered off from home and “lost his way”. She would notify the police department and being it was a small community, they would locate him and bring him home. Truly, it was like reading the Nicholas Sparks novel, “The Notebook.”
Even when he no longer recognized her, she faithfully administered the vows of their marriage; in sickness or in health. Her love and dedication to this man ministered to my heart in a way that only could be done through her living witness.
One day while working in the yard, here comes my neighbor. I meet her at the half way point. After our perfunctory greetings, she explained that their home has been sold and in three weeks’ time there would be an auction of their household items. I’m sure the shocked expression on my face spoke volumes as she continued on. They were moving into a residential care facility where her husband could get the care he needed as she could no longer do this alone. We hugged and cried, and cried together.
Three weeks later I registered for the auction at their home. I cried through most of it. When a box of items was being auctioned off together, I bid on it. I had to have something of hers, other than the memories. It turned out to be some Bible study items in which she had hand written notes.
All this happened over 30-years ago now. I no longer have the items from all the moving that has transpired since that time, yet I retain the memories in my heart and mind.
More recently, I was honored to observe another woman from our church. She was the primary caregiver to her husband. He was stricken with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. This dear woman cared for the love of her life through the horrible stages of the disease. She eventually had to feed him, learn to lift and move him into his wheelchair, and seek to patiently try to understand him when his speech declined to the point where no one else could make out what he was saying. She was his advocate at medical appointments. She became his voice as well as his transportation.
Then I had the opportunity to witness yet another caregiver. That would be my husband. During this chapter of medical appointments, testing, surgery, and chemotherapy in our lives, he has driven me to medical appointments, sat with me through numerous doctor visits. He has asked questions I could not think of as an ever present advocate. At home he took care of the everyday household chores of cleaning, laundry and meal preparation when I was too tired to even try. He never, never said a disparaging thing or complained about his lot. What I remember most is the day after surgery he held my hand and through tears said, “It’s not supposed to be like this. I was supposed to die first. You were not supposed to get sick like this.” To which I replied, “It’s not over yet!”
I have a very good prognosis. The cancer was stage 1B, and there was NO cancer in any of the 13-lymph nodes that were examined. As a preemptive strike, it was recommended and I agreed to four chemotherapy treatments. More recent, I had a colonoscopy and a polyp was removed. It was pre-cancerous and had the same family of cells as the lung cancer. It could have developed into colon cancer. I am now on the every three year plan for colonoscopies. The prep is the worst part of this process. I am confident I can do this without too much whining.
As I look at all that has transpired since January, I realize even more how blessed I am. I prayed throughout this excursion that God would use it for His glory and for His good – no matter what the outcome.
A quote I have come to love and use a lot is from Sara Miles. Simply stated it reads “prayer is one of the deepest forms of relationship with God…and through relationship there can be healing in the absence of cure.” What this translates to me is that cure is a medical term and healing is a spiritual term. They are two separate actions that can co-exist…or not.
I have taken a Spiritual Gifts survey. Actually, I’ve taken it several times hoping my gift was something else other than what the survey shows. Isn’t that rich? Arguing with God that, “no, I don’t think that is my gift… surely it must be something else!” Yes, of course… one body many parts.
Romans 12:3-8 (NIV) reads:
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 12:4-31 (NIV) reads:
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment.
But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.”
So? What did the Spiritual Types survey indicate was my gift? That of being a prophet. As I understand it, being a prophet by today’s standard means to rightly divide the Word of God. Why does it disturb me? I am afraid of being a poor witness, a poor ambassador of Christ. What if I offend someone and they totally turn from away from Christianity because of me? Ahhh, the old “shoulda, coulda, woulda” paralysis.
I am more than sure I am to be considering what my gift is AND more importantly to act upon it only because it was pointed out in a devotional I was reading. The article said to ask someone whose opinion you respected. So I asked a dear Sister in Christ what she might think my "God given gift" may be? She agreed to having this discussion and we will be pursuing this together! Then this past Sunday, our Pastor's sermon was about the very same subject! Yes, God has my attention.
Indeed, it is not enough to “know” what the gift is, but the key to the gift is action. And what might that entail? The saga continues…
Yours, because we’re His,