Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Grateful in the fire

Spent another day sitting in a hospital room with my father-in-law, answering his looping questions about yesterday, the events of which he has absolutely no recollection. When I told him we were awaiting the results of some tests, he used words like matriculation, accreditation and degree program when next he asked me a question, making it clear he thought that we were in some kind of academic setting and he needed to pass these particular tests in order to get his degree.

But then lunch came--and he was a 'clean-plater-- and he drifted off to one of his many naps of the day.  I awakened him because our close friend, Pastor J, had driven up from Marysville.  When he  walked into the room, I said,  "Grampie, look who came to see you."  Grampie opened his eyes and said, grinning from ear to ear, "Why JM!" There are a whole lot of cognition problems for Grampie, but in some ways, his memory about the important things hasn't faded one decimal.  He hasn't seen JM in quite a while, and didn't know he was coming, but recognized him easily, and was as thrilled as if he'd won the lottery that a busy pastor would make the time to see little old him.

It's exactly what I was saying yesterday. For Grampie, it's all about relationships.  It was a great conversation with JM.  Grampie told a couple of stories about playing basketball (the new hoops arena at U of Oregon has his name on a wall, and he's proud as punch about that, talks about it as if he helped build the building with his own two hands, which, if you think about it, he kind of did, being an athlete of his caliber back in the 40s), about being in China-India-Burma in WWII.

I told JM how easy it is to be with Grampie because he's so grateful all the time, and he said, "I am grateful." Then he said this, "I've done everything I wanted to do, seen everything I ever wanted to see."

Think about that statement for a moment.

This is a man who is content. You can't ask for a better statement than that.  It reminds me of Paul's words in 2 Timothy 4, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race..." I have always hoped that I will be able to say these words at the end of my life, or my own version of them. And here's the most fascinating part to me. Whenever I think of saying them, I also think a sermon of JM's from the first year we knew JM. I can't remember the whole of it but it has governed a great deal of how I've lived since.  It was something about living with the end in mind.  What do I want the last thing to be said about me? What will be my legacy? Will honoring Christ be what people know about me?

Because that's what I want.  All Him. From this day forward. With the gratefulness I see in my father-in-law, with his sense that there is nothing left to be done when He calls me home.  I envy the contentedness I see in him.  J observed at lunch that Grampie's son has that same quality in him.  It isn't natural to me.

But, what isn't common to man, as Paul puts it, is common to the Holy Spirit. It is the work--the job--to the Holy Spirit to create contentment in a not-naturally-contented person, like me. I learn this at the bedside of my father-in-law.

One of these days, life will slow down for us. And I'll write about other things. Think a little more deeply.  But, as I told my son this evening, A crisis day day, seems to be our motto of late.  Hang in there with me, k?

And until then, I'll be grateful for each day with Grampie. For this season I'm doing everything God gives me to do. This is what He wants for me.

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