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Posts Tagged ‘old age’

God brought a woman named Margaret into my life just before my mother died. He knew I would need the continued encouragement and mentoring of an older woman, a woman who would be an example of faithfulness, kindness, and self-control. In the years after my mother’s death, I was challenged in my vocations of wife, mother, and national president of Lutherans For Life. Margaret could always be counted on to listen, ask questions that helped me to think, and influence—not with her feelings, but with the Word of God.

A few weeks ago, Margaret’s daughter called to tell me that her mother was nearing the end of her earthly life. It was ok. Margaret, nearly 90, was looking forward to leaving this world behind and going home. Satan, however, couldn’t stand the thought of losing one more soul to heaven, so he visited Margaret now and then to see if he could tempt her. “We both know my mom’s faith,” Margaret’s daughter told me, “but I think now would be a good time for you to write her.”

And so, without letting Margaret know her daughter’s request, I spent Friday, December 8 writing the kind of comfortably honest letter she would have written to me.

My dear friend, Margaret…

I miss you! I miss our meaningful discussions about the Lord of our lives and why we must cling to Him. I miss the encouragement we have always given one another.

It has been my deepest desire to come see you and spend another one or two wonderful days together. I’ve wanted to do that ever since our last visit when I was in your area speaking and stayed with you. Now, over two years later, I’m wishing I could quickly drive up to see you, talk with you, and share the love we both have in Christ.

Nine grandchildren keep me on the go. I’ve learned, as you learned before me, how important grandparents are. We can encourage and pass on wisdom in a unique way. Parents can be so overwhelmed with the day-to-day parenting. They need encouragement, too, and it helps them to know that their children have the added strength and guidance of grandparents.

You will probably not be surprised to know that I have started writing a second book. After the first book, The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, I was asked by several parents, “So now what? Now that we know why our children are being sexualized, what can we do for them? How can we equip them to live in this world?” Margaret, I did not want to write the first book, let alone a second book! Then it came to me. I didn’t have to write it! There have been more than 50 pastors who have served on the pastors’ panels following my book presentations. Twelve of them accepted my invitation to help write the lessons for this book. I am assisting them… and serving as general editor. God is good to provide me with an assistant editor. You would like her! She is a young wife and mom who understands the need of our society for Titus 2 mentoring of biblical womanhood and manhood. This stay-at-home mom was in the perfect position to say “yes” when I asked her to help with this second book entitled Male and Female by Design: What Does This Mean?

Margaret, you and I talked about the most important message of my first book which is this: our identity in Christ matters! We are far more than sexual beings! With our Baptism, we become heirs and children of God because of what Jesus Christ has done for us! Our identity remains the same, no matter our age, health, or any other circumstance in life. You and I, Margaret, are daughters of God! Always and forever! Through water and Word, the Holy Spirit was given to us and He continues to work in us.

Our baptized identity cannot be snatched away! Our holiness and purity in Christ cannot be snatched away! Satan may deceive us. He may tempt us to believe that he has power over us, but he does not! He is the loser! He is the poor, pitiful creature that Christ has won victory over. You and I have talked about this so many times… and we must continue to remind one another of this truth.

This second book that I’m working on will help parents and their children better understand the importance of our baptized identity. Yes, it will teach what it means to be a boy or a girl. It will teach about biblical manhood and womanhood. But, even more so, it will remind both parent and child that with our Baptism, we have a barricade against Satan. Our Baptism isn’t a one-time “event” that serves no purpose for us as we grow older. Our Baptism makes us part of God’s family and connects us with Jesus Christ!

I so appreciate the book Afraid by Rev. Robert Bennett. He writes about the very real spiritual warfare that we experience on this earth. You and I have talked about this spiritual warfare… and it is something we engage in until we are carried home by Jesus. You and I can THANK GOD that no matter how arrogant or bold Satan might be, we’re the ones who hold power over him! With the life of our Baptism and with forgiveness of sins, Satan has lost his stronghold and peace is found (Acts 26:17-18). Rev. Bennett quotes Dr. Klaus Detlev Shultz, who says that the Sacraments of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Confession/Absolution “ultimately serve as a barricade against the perpetual onslaught of non-Christian elements on the believers.”

You and I both know, Margaret, that we are God’s daughters living in an alien and hostile world. I have seen how the Lord has been faithful to provide for you and help you endure very difficult situations. You have always been very private about your personal life, Margaret, but I know enough to recognize you as a daughter of God who has trusted her Lord and Savior in the toughest of times. You have pointed your children and grandchildren to Christ. You carried them to the Baptismal font and taught them who they are in Christ.

I hope that you are remembering your own Baptism. I hope that you are remembering that your identity is not found in your service to others, your youth, or your good health… but in your connection to Jesus Christ! We do not stop being God’s vessels on this earth. Even if we must move to assisted living or can’t drive our own car or can’t go help everybody else, we are still His instruments and He works through us.

When my big, strong farmer father-in-law was flat on his back and near death with a brain infection, he bemoaned the fact that he couldn’t serve us. I looked him in the eye and said, “But you are serving us! Helpless as you may feel, God is using you to teach us how to serve you and one another. He is teaching me to be less selfish, more patient, and trusting of His will and not my own.”

Oh, my dear Margaret, no matter where you are or what you can or cannot do, never forget that you are God’s own. If I could be sitting there with you, we could talk about Job. We could remind each other of what Job experienced and how God showed His faithfulness to Job in the worst of situations.

Job’s friends were of no comfort to him when he was suffering the loss of wife, family, possessions, and good health. Their ears could not hear and their eyes could not see the Almighty God. But the Almighty God had worked faith in Job that did not fail. When Job questioned His Maker, God said,

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were the bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? … Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion? … Do you give the horse his might? Do you clothe his neck with a mane? … Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars … Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high?

Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it … Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?
(from Job 38-40).

Margaret, may you and I be like Job who answered: “I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth.”

May we continue to entrust one another to God our Father who calls us by name (Isaiah 43:1). May we entrust one another to our Father who bears with us, carries us, and saves us (Isaiah 46:4). May we live confident in our Baptism which makes us daughters of God and connects us to Christ on this earthly journey… and forevermore!

_______
The timing of the letter I had been nudged to write was, well, God’s own. On December 17, Margaret was carried home by her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Driving to her funeral four hours from our home, I asked my husband, “Do you think the letter mattered?” The answer came from Margaret’s daughter. “She read your letter. She called for the pastor she trusted. There was peace.”

There was peace for Margaret in dying and there continues to be peace for me in living. It is the peace of the Lord that passes all understanding for those whom God calls by name.

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The mother of one of my dear friends is in a nursing home.  She is a widow of so many years I’ve lost count.  In the past year, she survived near death experience but, at 95, her body is weakened.  Her daughter is faithful.  She travels four hours one way to spend two or three days with her mother.  The daughter encourages the mother and, at the same time, I believe the mother remains the mentor.  Even in poor health and weakened condition, the mother is an instrument for good in the hands of the Mighty God.

I can do little.  But, today, I wrote my friend’s mother this note:

Dear One,

I had these note cards printed with the single word “Amen.”  Why?  Because this word means “so be it.”  It can be our voice, responding to God, saying, “I agree with You, Father!  You said it!  Yes, indeed!”

So many days of our life are spent wondering and questioning: Why, Lord?  Why am I in this place?  Why is this happening?  Where are You?

Without a doubt, you are asking these questions.  But, you know what?  You have the answer.  You are in the hands of the Mighty God.  He said it is so.  God has called you by name, you are His.  He said it is so.  God knows every hair on your head.  He said it is so.  Because of what Jesus has done for you, you are a treasure of great price.  He said it is so.

Do battle with the doubts and fears, my friend.  They are deceptions of Satan, your enemy and mine.  Hold fast to the Promise of Jesus who died for you and me.  Tell Satan to take a hike… be gone… diminish into the nothing that he is.

You remain — forever and in all circumstances — the daughter of the King.  You are loved no matter what.”

It is my hope and prayer that, someday, someone writes me an “Amen.”  “So be it!”  “You said it, Father, it is so!”  May someone else remind me to trust The Promise.  God, who calls us by name, is faithful to work a good work in us and through us — until the day He calls us home.

In Jesus,

Amen.

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Every younger generation benefits from the wisdom of sages. Too bad so many of today’s could-be-sages are distracted by the fountain of youth.

There’s something very sad and, honestly, quite unattractive about mothers who try to compete with their daughters.  With fathers who would rather be “best buds” than dads to their sons.

Granted, the men and women of my generation have been long schooled to obsess on our bodies and, whatever the cost, maintain the appearance of youth.  But, what does this do to our minds?  What is the price paid by children?  Grandchildren?  Children in our neighborhoods?

Every younger generation deserves the wisdom and experience that is most naturally mentored by an older generation.  But, in this present culture, we parents and grandparents seem to resist acting our age.  Isn’t this rather selfish?  If we’re absentee from the role of mentor, to whom are we abdicating?

The older generation hasn’t evolved, says the world.  So, girls!  Boys!  Follow your heart!  Listen to your instincts!  Rubbish!   How typical of the world to offer deceptive counsel.  But, people who call themselves “Christian” should know better.  We should value the wisdom that comes with age.  Experience.  Spiritual maturity.

As I was preparing the keynote address for a women’s conference, I was drawn to passages from 1 Timothy 5.  There, the Apostle Paul is speaking to young Timothy like a father.  He is inspired by the Holy Spirit to offer instructions for the church.  Something the church is called to do is honor the widows, especially those who are truly left alone.   What got my attention was the distinction made between an “older” and “younger” widow.  Verse 9 notes that a widow is eligible for church assistance if she is not less than 60 years old.  The one who has been a faithful wife of one husband, has a reputation for good works, has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of saints, and has cared for the afflicted is considered to be a wise woman who won’t bring shame to the congregation.

But, what about a younger widow; a woman less than 60 years of age?  The household of God is to encourage her to marry and manage her household; if possible, to have children.  Why the clear distinction of age here?  Because, as real life has a way of proving out, younger women are more captive to their passions.  They are more tempted to romantic desires, idleness, and gossip or saying things they should not.  They are more easily deceived by worldly trends and led away from Jesus Christ.

What do you think of that?  Does this make sense to you?

God’s Word consistently through Old and New Testament reminds the older generation to mentor the younger.  The Creator of life entrusts children to parents; not to their peers.  He wants parents and grandparents to tell children and grandchildren about the wonders of God’s work.  This includes all the lessons learned over the course of time and in the midst of challenges.  So, when a man or woman refuses to accept their age, resists learning from past mistakes, and clings to the foolishness of youth, woe to the young ones in their charge.

As for me?  Well, I admit I don’t like the gravity of age.  My head, after all, still thinks creatively.  Enthusiastically.  Optimistically.  Laughter is good for my soul – and others.

But, given to me are priceless years.  Years of experience.  Years of lessons often learned the hard way.  Years of seeing God at work in my life.  Why would I want to keep that all to myself?  Where is the shame in acting my age?

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