My Grandma passed away one year ago today at the age of 90. She lived the last several years of her life with the effects of Alzheimer’s. Because of her confusion, and need for twenty-four hour care, she went into a nursing home in the Fall of 2009. From the time she entered the nursing home, I began to pray that the Lord would take her home, to eternity.
You see, I grew up right next door to my Grandma. Some of the nights I stayed with her we’d sleep at the foot of the bed with an open window allowing the breeze to blow in our face. She made me pancakes every morning for a year; one of the reasons why I’m not a big pancake fan today. I had my fill early in life. She allowed me to drive down our dirt roads when I was about ten. And she taught me how to make homemade applesauce. I could write a book alone about all the times I had with my Grandma. For all these memories, I am overwhelmingly grateful. But one of the tragic things about Alzheimer’s is that you experience multiple losses. You are constantly observing the mental and physical decline. You lose your loved one, as you knew them, little by little until their death. And no matter how much you wanted them to be free from the disease, the permanent loss of their death is difficult.
I would have never chosen for my Grandma to live the last three years of her life in a nursing home. But God had a plan for my Grandma. In addition to my Grandma’s memorial service, we had a separate service at the nursing home for her. The chaplain from Grace Hospice focused on Jeremiah 29:11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” He pointed out that this verse holds much excitement and encouragement for high school graduates who have their entire lives ahead of them, but what about those at the end of their life?
I had the gift of watching the Lord use my Grandma. Despite her confusion and decline, her light shined brightly for Him. Grandma became very close to a 34 years young resident battling multiple sclerosis. This young woman claims Buddhism as her faith. Nevertheless, she entered my Grandma’s room and, at Grandma’s request, the woman read the Bible to her. And she did it several times a week. My family believes Isaiah 55:11, “so is My Word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” This sweet young woman read to my Grandma, and my Grandma displayed Christian love in a nonjudgmental manner; no condemnation, no accusations; just love.
God had a special plan for my Grandma. We know He has a plan for all of us. But sometimes the laundry, the grocery shopping, the cleaning and mowing, the runny noses and crazy sport schedules, the bills and fender benders along the way, get us so distracted from the fact that GOD HAS A PLAN! And what’s better is that it is as unique as we are.
In his book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Mark Batterson writes, “Lion chasers don’t let what they can’t do keep them from doing what they can.” My Grandma could not even get up to go to the restroom, but she didn’t let that stop her from allowing God to use her. It’s not about what WE can do anyway; it’s about what HE can do through us. If God has given us the breath to breathe then He most certainly has given us the opportunity to be used for Him. Matthew 5:14-15 says, “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Let’s not let our circumstances predict how bright our light shines. Whether we are mistreated, unappreciated or misjudged our light can shine because after all, He’s got a plan, and it’s an amazing one!
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