A promise I received and have clung to regarding my mother's illness was given through an attorney who helped us find our way through our initial, panic-tinged decisions on Mom's behalf. This kind woman looked me in the eye and said, "Linda, there will be life for you after your mother's Alzheimer's disease."
I received these words as truth, but during these later stages of my mother's disease I'm increasingly aware that if I'm to survive this 15-year-and-counting journey with enough strength to face a future of promised renewal, then I have some forgiving and releasing to do.
Our Lord speaks of new wine for new wineskins, but also states that the old wine tastes sweeter (see Luke 5:36-39). If the old wine is the memory of God's goodness to us in the past, our challenge is to find and focus upon the sweetness that has been provided us even in the midst of our trials. Apart from this change of focus from all the ways we've suffered to all the ways we've been blessed, we find ourselves unable to fit any new status quo into the old perspective of belief that we have been irreparably damaged by life events that have caused us pain.
If my perspective is tainted by unforgiveness toward my mother or, worse, toward the Lord for the trials He has allowed, every memory of these past 15 years will be tinged with bitterness. The new wineskin is a willingness to release the past into God's hands and to receive the hope of blessings to come.
The strong memory of the sweetness of the Lord's abiding presence through all that we've faced is the old wine that is sweeter even than the new. This is the perspective that will allow us to move forward with gratitude of heart over all the ways God has richly blessed us in the past, and with hope for the future.
You tried to harm me, but God made it turn out for the best, so that he could save all these people, as he is now doing (Genesis 50:20 CEV).
The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything (Deuteronomy 2:7 NIV).