Sunday, May 29, 2011

Out of Control (in The Hands of The One in Control)

"No one can tell me what I can and can't eat!"

Thus says my grandma with dementia.

It's amazing to me how dementia (much like Alzheimer's) removes all inhibitions and reveals the ugly threads that weave through human nature.

I am no exception to this nature.

When I was a kid, I was considered "strong-willed." My mom read a book about it. This trait was most readily observed by my famous toddler expression of "ME do it" anytime I was confronted with a task on which I received even the faintest suggestion of help. (Eventually I graduated to: "Let me do it on my own.")

I was also an expert at testing my boundaries. When I was a small child, I was informed that our family was going to leave my grandparents' house one evening. Not wanting to go, I refused to budge. I was then given the option of walking out on my own or being carried against my will, to which I stubbornly responded with my own defiant choice: "I'll crawl out."

Yes, God has had his hands full breaking my will to be in control. I have repeatedly been convicted of my desire to drive the boat, so to speak.

It's not hard to see why trusting God is difficult for me. My objective is to avoid discomfort, discipline, and pain. However, God frequently accomplishes his important purposes through these things. How do I respond?

My grandma's response is to lash out in the same way I used to as a child. In her state of being completely dependent on my mom and me for everything because of her failing health and mind, she tries to regain some form of control. In doing so, she defiantly asserts her will in areas that make everyone's life more difficult.

I learn a lot about my childish ways with God when I see my grandma act like that. By refusing to eat simply because she doesn't like being taken to the toilet (or being washed, or given food), she hurts herself the most.

Similarly, when I refuse to pray to God simply because I don't like the circumstances he's put me in, I, also, am hurting myself the most. I need prayer as a protection, as an outlet, as a guide, and for peace during times when life is beyond my influence. It's easy to see lack of prayer as making a point, but God does not respond to my defiant silences. He simply waits for me to come back because I'm hungry for him and nothing on this earth will fully satisfy that hunger.

Even when trials and illness make you feel completely powerless, remember that God is not the enemy. He is the one who will lead us to repentance and peace that passes all understanding, if we would just be still and trust in him.

For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'”
Revelation 7:17

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