Sunday, May 25, 2014

Preserved faith

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you." (Psalm 16:1-2, ESV)

Dorris insisted she had never seen this highway before. Because it is the main route between Seward and Lincoln, I knew she had traveled it many times. When I explained this to her she replied that she had always wanted to erase her brain and start over and apparently today was the day. 

We spent the rest of the trip singing along to Handel’s Messiah.
Her memories are slipping away, but her sense of humor holds fast, and God preserves her faith.

You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and steadfast love, and your care has preserved my spirit. (Job 10:11-13, ESV)

As we drove to Seward, I struck with thoughts of Blackburn, Missouri. When Paul and I were newly married, we spent a week there with Dorris’ mother. Amalia had been a church organist and nearly every evening she would sit down at her piano and play hymns. If you saw her do this you would know she was a sharp as a tack and assume she was on top of things. She rarely missed a note and knew the words of many hymns by memory. However, each time she noticed us she would ask us who we were and why we were in her house. When we arrived back in Seward we informed Dorris that Amalia could no longer safely live alone in her home.

Thirty plus years later, when Dorris tells us she needs to live some place where people can remember things for her, we assure her she has found that home. 

Between Dorris and her mother there are so very many memories lost; memories of raising children and of raising crops, of playing basketball and playing organ, of running a home and running for office, of laughter, of tears, of hymns, of art. These are lost memories of an earthly life, but, disease and sin cannot take everything.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; (Psalm 146:5-6, ESV) 

Because of the faith given to Dorris at her Baptism, God preserves her, even while so much of her life is crumbling away. She can no longer walk without help. She can no longer feed or care for herself. She is losing the ability to recognize her loved ones. But, her faith is, and always will be, preserved.

As for you, O LORD, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me! (Psalm 40:11, ESV)
This brings new understanding to these words of Jesus:

Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. (Luke 17:33, ESV)
Thankfully, we will not all lose our life in small bits of memory that slip away. Yet, we must all lose our life to Christ. If we hold on to our current life, if we focus on that life, if we let our desires and goals for that life distract us from Life in Christ, we will lose all life.

Dorris reminds me, every day, of what it is like to lose your life and thereby gain Life. Life in Christ is what she has, and it is what she will never lose. Even when she can no longer talk, or sing, or walk, she will still have faith and in heaven she will hear these words:

And he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace" (Luke 8:48, ESV)

For now, I thank God for sending His one and only Son to die for me. I thank God for the Spirit that gives me faith. And, I thank the Father for preserving that faith.

The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5, ESV)