Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Pray in All Things

I suppose all mothers have pet bits of advice that, over time, become ingrained in family lore. "Wash behind your ears...put on clean underwear (in case you have an accident, the EMT's won't be appalled by you)...don't fidget in church..."  A small portion of my counsel to my children has been stellar, the greater part nonessential, and some downright ridiculous.

However, I stand by one of my oft-repeated instructions, first utilized in that moment of terrified desperation every parent feels when their teenager slips behind the wheel of a vehicle for a first solo excursion. When this transition came for my 16-year-old daughter I shouted one last word of advice after her rapidly retreating form: "PRAY IN ALL THINGS!"

This has become the customary parting phrase for me each time my adult children walk out the door; "I love you, call me when you are home safe, pray in all things!"

I have realized that although my "shouted advice" version of this counsel may be unique, the familial example of praying in everything did not originate with me. This was brought home to me recently when I delivered my mother's supper plate.  Mom loves macaroni and cheese. Her plate featured a generous portion of this favorite dish, and there was also a half sandwich and a cup of applesauce.  Mom began eating the mac and cheese with relish, inserting little comments of appreciation between bites. "This is so creamy...I love this." After a few moments the timbre of her voice changed and I heard her pray, "Guidance, please Lord, for when to stop eating the macaroni and to pick up the sandwich."

My Alzheimer's mom truly does pray in all things. When faced with anything unpleasant she closes her eyes and prays aloud, "As you will, Lord, as you will." And with increasing frequency as her Alzheimer's progresses, I hear this repetitive prayer, "Guidance please Lord, guidance." 

A friend recently asked me how Mom was doing, and I replied, "You know for how little she has left cognitively, she continues to do amazingly well."  Understand that Mom often thinks I'm her granddaughter, sometimes believes she is in a facility rather than in our home, and recently mistook gas pains for labor pains (she told me it would be time to have the baby soon). Her Alzheimer's diagnosis was ten years ago and she is 90-years-old, but she somehow manages to function pretty well within the familiar environment of her little apartment. 

When I heard Mom pray about how she ought to proceed in eating her dinner, I realized why she is able to continue to manage as well as she does despite the confusion of Alzheimer's; the Lord has not departed from her. The Holy Spirit is described in Scripture as counselor and teacher, and He has not abandoned my mother.

When Mom inquires of the Lord, He does indeed provide her with help.  Following her prayer for guidance during the incident described above, she paused in her compulsive intake of the mac and cheese and appeared to be listening. She then picked up the sandwich with her other hand and began alternating bites of sandwich with forkfuls of the irresistible main dish. 

With my family's history of dementia, I find this evidence of God's continued presence in Mom's life wonderfully encouraging. Once again I've been reminded that the best preparation for a possible diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease in the future is to cultivate a relationship with the Living God in our present. Once we've made the decision to believe in what Christ did for us on the Cross and have asked to be adopted as a child of God, we belong to Him. The confusion of Alzheimer's doesn't cause God to depart from us.

...God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
--Hebrews 13:5

If you feel your relationship with the Lord isn't one that will afford you the peace and guidance my mom enjoys, check out this link. 

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