It’s one of the psalms in which King David, having been confronted by the prophet Nathan about his adultery with Bathsheba and his subsequent murder-by-battle of her husband, Uriah, stops burying and covering his sin and pours out his broken heart in repentance before God. He gets it out. He deals with it. Eventually he is restored (with consequences… there are always those).
Now to reach our church is about a thirty minute drive from our home. It meanders first through our town, then out through a historic gold mining town in the foothills, then up over a mountain pass and down into the neighboring valley. You need to watch for deer. Sometimes turkeys. Bear and mountain lion have also been seen, though not by us. Often Brian and I are listening to music on this hour long round trip, sometimes to an audio book.
Last night we talked about his mother. She’s 88 and struggles with dementia. We are her primary care givers, emotionally. There are always challenges. The little practical things she can no longer manage or remember to do, so we have to talk her through them again and again. And again. And the big things that cause heart pain, as issues buried deep in her soul are coming up, issues difficult to deal with because they aren’t based in reality, or seem based on things that might have happened to her long before we both were born.The people involved have long since passed on. It can make a son and daughter-in-law feel helpless to help, at times.
As we drove last night our discussion turned to what we might be able to do for ourselves, to help prevent such issues from swelling out of proportion and dominating our minds, should we find ourselves still on this earth at such an advanced age. Of course there are studies that deal with what we eat, how we exercise our brains. Advice abounds. But I was thinking more along the spiritual lines.
One thing was clear to me, and I tried to put it into words. “We have to be practicing walking in trust, knowing God’s promises for us (especially those that apply to when we’re old), and believing them now. Get them so engrained in our souls that that’s what comes out when our minds are on the way out.”
In other words, we need to sow now the crop we want to reap when we are much older, and weaker in body or mind. Not that this is a cure all for what ails so many of our elderly. But… I believe it when God says a man (or woman) reaps what he sows, so why not sow to our future selves a crop of truth, faith, and an eternal outlook of promise? The seed is there at our fingertips, in the pages of God’s word.
So, after that rather weighty discussion, we arrived at church, and Pastor Jon began teaching through Psalm 51.
See me sitting in the back row against the wall (my introverted need for being on the periphery of a crowd in play). I’m scurrying to take notes. This whole dealing with the sin in our souls, one-on-one with God, getting that junk out of us in confession and being restored, with a clean heart–wow, is this ever relevant to the novel I’m working on.
One character in particular (you’ll meet him in The Wood’s Edge, next spring) has buried and refused to deal with a terrible sin committed not, as in King David’s case, about nine months earlier, but TWENTY YEARS earlier.
And then… Pastor Jon began to talk about a woman he’d spoken to recently, whose elderly mother is suffering from dementia, and has begun to spew all sorts of vile things from her soul, and how difficult that is as her daughter to deal with and bear…
And Brian and I looked at each other, knowing this was one of those times when the Holy Spirit was saying… listen. Listen. I am speaking to you. Not just for the book you are writing, but for you.
So we listened.
If you are also caring for someone with dementia and finding it a challenge and burden hard to bear, will you listen?
If you need to work out something between you and God by means of confession, will you listen?
If you want to do something to help prevent your own soul from spewing gunk over those you love, now or in the future, will you listen?
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