As most of you know, this past week Dawn and I traveled to her parents home in southern Missouri.  And as you know, Dawn’s mother has been on our prayer request list for some time.  What you may not know is the real extent of her mother’s poor health.  She has rheumatoid arthritis.  While many people can live with such conditions for years with proper care and proper medication there were several circumstances that developed that caused her mother’s health to not be a “normal” case.  For starters, it went undiagnosed for too long.  For years she complained about back pain and the doctors essentially ignored her problems.  It wasn’t until a visit with a kidney doctor that the condition was accidentally discovered.  As such the damage to her spine was already so severe the doctor was concerned that she would be lucky to live 2 years and still be walking in 1 year (that was about 1.5 years ago).  The other circumstance that has complicated this whole thing is the fact that he mother has stage 3 kidney failure.  The doctors are happy that he kidneys haven’t gotten much worse over the last several years, but that is largely in part to her not hitting her kidneys with a  variety of new drugs, including medication to help keep rheumatoid arthritis at bay.  As such the only treatment she receives for this condition is physical therapy.  While down there this past week, Dawn and I had the opportunity to meet with her therapist.  He told us he is not in the business of destroying hope, but he doesn’t want to give false hope either.  Reading between the lines, her mom isn’t getting better, but quitting the exercises will likely make her get worse quicker.
While there Dawn and I became her primary caretakers.  We made sure she was able to get up in the morning.  We made sure she had something to eat.  We made sure she could get up so that she could use the restroom, we helped her write out her bills, we helped straighten up the home by getting rid of things that had expired and were still sitting in the cupboard.
All of this put Paul’s words in I Tim. 5 in a whole new light for me.  “Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God….  But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever… If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed (I Tim. 5:3-4, 8, 16).”  We love to quote this idea about providing for our wife and kids when we speak of a man’s duties to his family.  But the original context of this passage is not about taking care of one’s wife and kids, but taking care of the widows (grandmothers and mothers) in your family.  I completely understand why Paul made these statements.  These woman made many sacrifices for us while we were children.  They fed us, they clothed us, they made sure we got up in the morning, they got us dressed, etc.  We need to honor them by returning that deed of kindness unto them.
This got me thinking, there are a whole lot of mothers, fathers, grandparents in nursing homes today.  These people are in homes where others elderly are placed, all the while the homes of Americans have gotten larger and more elaborate.  It is not uncommon to find master bedroom suites that take up entire floors of a house, and yet some how we cannot manage to find room in our homes for our loved ones?  Maybe it is a matter of priority.  If we really wanted to serve our parents we would make some sacrifices wouldn’t we.  We would give up our beds, we would give up our oversized rooms, we would give up that “man cave” so that mom or dad would have somewhere to live close by so that we could take care of them. 
Or perhaps it is another excuse we like to give.  I can’t.  I just don’t have it in me to serve that way.  My friends, that is called pride.  Some people claim they don’t have it in them to wash the disciples feet.  It is because they can’t get on their hands and knees, or because they refuse to do so?  I was sitting behind someone this past week as they commented on larger families.  They replied I can’t see how any lives with three of more kids.  They then talked about who those “people” must be dying on the inside.  No, I am not dying, I am quite alive, happy, and thrilled to be the father of 4.  I chose to love my kids.  I chose to sacrifice for them.  I chose to do so because I love them.  They are not a burden.  And my friends, our parents are not be viewed as a burden either.  You can serve them if you chose to show them how much you truly love them.
And brethren, before you tell me you can’t, I have a friend who moved his family into his mother’s home to take care of her because she has Alzheimer’s. While it would be easier to take her to a nursing home, he refuses to do so because he said and I quote, “She wouldn’t send me away when I was at my worst and I refuse to send her away.”  This man is not a Christian.  If he gets it, had sad it is for us who claim to be Christians and fail to take care of our own. 

-WTK

Grinnell church of Christ
 
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Worse Than an Unbeliever?


The Light
Volume 5 Issue 30