Christian Living

Spiritual Life

So Cries My Heart

I read their gut-wrenching words and pound my fists. I walked in their shoes, yet sit clueless how I should take away their agony. I despise “should” because it’s a word of shame. But that’s how I feel — ashamed that I can’t find words to help them. So goes another morning on a social media dementia support group.

Someone needs prayer because her loved one wandered away. Another aches because his loved one passed. Another regrets complaining how hard it was to be a caregiver — now all she wishes for is one more smile or “I love you.” Some feel their sacrifice is killing them and can’t wait until it’s over.

So, my heart cries.

Online support groups were a lifeline during my mom’s Alzheimer’s battle as I tried to balance her needs with mine. But balance is subjective. The disease caused my mom to weave from side to side as she walked down a hallway, and it caused me to emotionally weave from side to side when I responded to emergencies and balanced them with work, marriage, and sleep.

I stay in these support groups hoping to help them all — I was a caregiver! But on this morning, I was clueless. I was an eyewitness to this wretched disease twice. Yet I felt failure, which contradicted my belief that God called me to minister to caregivers.

So God took me for a walk — me, Him and the worship music playing in my ears. Coincidence that Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns played on my playlist? God knows when we feel like we tried again and failed. I heard the lies: I’m no good at ministry or writing, and I can’t help anybody. 

He reminded me that He calls us for His purpose (Romans 8:28). He didn’t choose me to do everything for everyone. That’s His job. Mine is to contribute in accordance with the calling He gives me. I can help some of the people some of the time, but I can’t help all of the people all of the time. Only God does that. He has called me to write, point caregivers to God’s grace, and encourage them to find collateral beauty instead of collateral damage. If they rebuke God’s grace, I move on. Even Jesus moved on.

God desires my obedience, not my sacrifices. Obedience is a response to a request to do something. Sacrifice causes or permits injury for the sake of something else. God said,

“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, ...” Hosea 6:6 (NIV)

and that we are to

“Walk in obedience to all I command you, ...” Jeremiah 7:23 (NIV) 

Caregiving is physically grueling, mentally exhausting, and spiritually depleting. I wasn’t asked to sacrifice my life for it, only be obedient. 

Sacrifice is Jesus — sent to earth alone to die broken and alone in order for us to receive eternal life. 

Obedience was Abraham’s willingness to kill his son, or Daniel’s concession to spend a night in the lion’s den because he was unwilling to stop praying, or my determination to take Mom’s frantic calls when she didn’t know where she was or what she was doing. Jesus said,

“... whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40 (NIV) 

That’s collateral beauty. That’s obedience. 

God didn’t call me to help everyone, just lead them toward God’s grace. What I gave to my parents and Jesus was obedience (a living sacrifice), not a killing sacrifice (a burnt offering).

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 (NIV)

And the support groups? If God leads me to respond, I will. If God leads me to be quiet, I will. I will rest in obedience to the one who sacrificed it all and share God’s grace and mercy with them through my obedience to Him. 

Copyright © 3/2018 Cheryl Crofoot Knapp, used with permission.

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