When God is Greater
We all wonder if God really sees us. Does He know our pain? Is He faithful even when our circumstances are telling us He’s forgotten us?
Scripture tells us God is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:24). There’s not one of His children that escapes his attention. Not even for a second.
I was blessed to receive a glimpse of God’s faithfulness to one of the most faithful men I’ve ever met. Lou* has been married and devoted to the same woman for more than fifty years, has spent a lifetime raising faithful children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and has spent decades walking in relationship and service to the Lord.
Lou also has Alzheimer’s disease.
I was blessed to spend a seven-hour car ride from Portland, Oregon up to north Idaho with him in the back seat of a sedan. His daughter drove while his wife was in the passenger seat. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew this trip was an opportunity to serve one of God’s beloved children. I planned to make it my mission to make the drive as enjoyable and relaxing as possible for him and his family.
I’d been struggling few days prior to the drive. I was wrestling with my place and stage of life, wondering whether I was on the right path or not and if my heart was more of a burden than a blessing to people. At what point were they going to quit on me? At what point was God going to tire of me? I was looking forward to a stretch of time of being able to get my focus off of myself and onto someone else.
On this drive northeast, Lou regaled me with stories of his childhood as if he was in his twenties. His mind drifted back and forth between today and fifty years ago as he shared about how much he loved his father and how good of a man he is/was. He forgot the names of his daughter and his wife a few times, and really had no idea who I was, but he traveled well.
There were a few moments I had to make sure the door was locked as he played with the handle on the highway, or trade him a bottle of water for the hand sanitizer he reached for after we devoured a bag of kettle corn. Truthfully, it was a role I felt blessed to be able to serve in.
Then at one point he looked at me with such intensity and clarity it was as if the man I had been speaking with disappeared. Lou stared directly into my eyes, something he’d never really done before. Then he smiled and said, “You know, nothing can hurt your heart but you. You don’t have anything to worry about or be afraid of. Not with me.”
Deep inside my spirit sat up, alert and listening as if saying, I know that voice! Tears began to fill my eyes as I realized this wasn’t Lou speaking, but the Father speaking through him.
He went on to say, “You’re right where you need to be, and you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Keep doing it. You need to keep your eye on the target.” He pointed at me, his eyes still staring deep into mine as they filled with tears. “Keep your eye on the target. I’ll be waiting for you.”
I nodded as tears filled my own eyes, not knowing what to say. He started to cry then as he said, “I love you, kiddo. I love you so much. I’m not quitting on you. I couldn’t if I tried. You need to know it.” He pointed to his stomach. “You need to know it. Here. Okay?”
I nodded. “Okay.”
He told me he loved me again, and this time I told him I loved him too. He reached out then and pulled me into his chest for a hug as we cried in the back seat for a few moments. When I wiped my tears away, he smiled at me with a knowing smile, and then told me something he’d told me several times already earlier on our drive.
The moment was gone, and Lou was back. As worship music played in the car, Lou began clapping to the beat and singing praises to the Father.
God has been screaming His love for me through women He has strategically placed in my life. Women who have held out their arms to me and let me weep on their shoulders, who have held my hands and prayed with me, and who have simply acted like bowling bumpers to keep me on track when I start to drift in my faith and understanding. I’ve wondered, often, what such love looks like from a father.
This time, God used a father to show me the Father’s heart. What was so beautiful about this moment wasn’t just God’s way of helping me feel safe. It was whom He chose to be His voice.
Lou has forgotten many things because of this disease, but He hasn’t forgotten God. Lou may not remember everything he learned over the years of studying scripture, but he remembers that Jesus is worthy of praise. He remembers his need for a savior. Even as his mind and body is wasting away, God continues to show Himself faithful to his servant by extending Him the grace to be faithful.
The enemy may be taking away many precious things from Lou and his family through this disease, but I am awed and humbled by God’s sovereignty. The Father has honored Lou’s lifetime of faithfulness and continues to show Himself faithful in return.
I never knew Lou before he had Alzheimer’s, but I would imagine he prayed many prayers desiring to do God’s will and fulfill a life of faithful service to his savior. I imagine Lou wanted nothing more than to show people how much God loved them. On this day, even though his mind was compromised and Lou likely didn’t know what was happening in that car, God used the faithful heart of His son to move the heart of one of His daughter’s closer to Him.
How amazing is our God?
*name changed to protect the privacy of the family