By Lauren Flake
My three-year-old prides herself on waking up before her five-year-old sister. She often climbs into bed with me as my husband gets ready for work and announces, “Sister is still sleeping!” Then she sometimes asks, “Where are we going today?”
On one such recent morning, I answered, “School,” as it was a Thursday and she attends preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week. “Again?” she responded in disbelief.
I laughed out loud at her immature and underdeveloped concept of time. But later I realized I’ve been giving God the same response in my own foolishness: “You’re sending me into caregiving again, God?”
In my immature, underdeveloped concept of time, the last eleven years of dementia caregiving—first for my mother, then for her father, and now for her mother—have felt like an impossible eternity of suffering. I plead with God, “Why are you sending me into the school of caregiving again? Haven’t I learned enough and developed enough humility and patience already? When is my next recess?” But how arrogant am I to doubt the Lord and think he’s already completed his work in and through me?
The book of Exodus tells us what happened when Moses balked at the Lord’s assignment:
“But Moses said to the Lord, ‘Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.’ Then the Lord said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.’ But he said, ‘Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.’ Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, ‘Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him. And take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs’” (Exodus 4:10–17 ESV).
I often let my fear and my lack of faith in God’s infinite wisdom, authority, and plans rule my heart. Like Moses, I say, “Send someone else,” and God basically says, “I’m in charge, and I will give you help, but this is the plan I have for you.”
My mission—my decade of grief and caregiving—is not lost on him, but it’s also a mere blip in his eternal plan. It’s an education and a preparation for ministry. The harder and longer my difficult walk, the stronger my testimony becomes. The deeper my preparation, the better equipped I am to walk beside someone else on a similar journey.
Paul said to the Corinthians, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16–18 ESV).
Paul also told us to “rejoice in our sufferings” (Romans 5:3 ESV), but that’s a hard one to wrap our modern hedonistic (“follow your heart”) and individualistic (“you do you”) culture-influenced minds around. I suspect the Hebrew people were a little better at understanding this big-picture concept of God and his people than we are, but even they probably struggled to find gratitude amid pain or obligation.
The truth is, we don’t have to be masochists to be grateful for our exposure to trials and refining for his kingdom work. Let us learn to joyfully say, “Send me, Lord,” instead of questioning his timeline and trajectory for our lives and his glory.
Lauren Flake writes about her journey as a wife, mom to two little girls and Alzheimer’s daughter in her native Austin, Texas, at For the Love of Dixie. Her first book, Where Did My Sweet Grandma Go? was published in 2016 and its companion Where Did My Sweet Grandpa Go? was released in 2017. She thrives on green tea, Tex-Mex and all things turquoise.
Photograph © Marius Sebastian, used with permission