“Yay, Evelyn! Did you see her stand on her own?”
“Leo, aren’t you a big boy pulling up and shaking that metal grate!”
I didn’t know watching grandchildren develop would be so enjoyable . . . and disturbing.
“Look at John, he’s standing on his own! I even saw him take a few steps the other day!” “Wow! Nice job putting on your shoe!”
Yes, right now my grandchildren and I are sharing many of the same challenges. We are three ships travelling the same waters, but they are sailing one direction and I another. They are free standing and feeling so proud; I am free standing right before I freefall. They are taking their first steps with glee; I am pounding out my last steps with difficulty. They are using nimble fingers to pick up big people food; I am using curled paws to assist my liquid feeding through a stomach tube. They are babbling their first words; I am babbling my last.
Like Benjamin in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” I feel my body is going in the wrong direction — towards childhood. All muscular strength and ability is fading away. I am walking backwards down life’s stairs. I am sinking into the quicksand of paralysis. I feel like I am melting. I have no major physical pain, but rather a foreboding angst that I will soon be trapped in a helpless and dependent body. This is the very condition from which my grandchildren are freeing themselves. Majestic mountains are ahead for them and deep valleys await me.
Sounds discouraging? Pity party? Absolutely not. Because, curiously, I am able to say that life is better now than it has ever been. I want that to sink in — my life is better now than it has ever been! Over the past year, I have received hundreds of cards, kind messages galore on social media, never-ending daily prayers, gifts, visitors from near and far, and just plain ol’ love. I have implored thousands of people to see more to life than the physical body. And best of all, I am knowing Jesus Christ through suffering.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28)
Experiencing rest in Jesus is the good life. I would not trade it for an Olympic body. This joy from the Holy Spirit eludes any earthly description. It is ethereal, sublime. I feel at rest, and I am content.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:13)
The Apostle Paul speaks of doing all things. What things is he talking about? They are found in the verses above; they are the full spectrum of life’s conditions. Paul is saying that wherever you find yourself in life, contentment is available. Am I reading this correctly? Reread it. Yes, that is what Paul is saying.
Contentment and rest are found in Jesus. This may sound abstract, but the more intense the need, the clearer this truth becomes. Contentment is not found by reshaping life’s external circumstances. Contentment comes by reshaping the life within. I spiritually died with Christ. I resurrected with Him a new man. I am seated with Him in the heavenlies. He has given me the Holy Spirit. I hold on to Christ by faith. I trust His promises. I will be given a new life beyond the grave. In this I experience contentment and rest. Life is now as good as it gets. This is available to all who believe.
“Who’s ready for a little supper?” Evelyn pounds her highchair and gets some avocado to squish into her mouth. Leo pounds his highchair and carefully pinches a few peas. I teasingly pound my wheelchair and get a cup full of liquid poured into my belly. Then we all take a ride around the house in my wheelchair. (Apparently, Grandpa-on-wheels makes me quite popular with the toddler set.)
Three ships passing in the day. I sense a closeness to my grandchildren and I love it. I am sensing a closeness to Jesus and I love it. “There is rest for my soul.”