Thursday, July 14, 2011

I can identify, can you?

10:28 p.m. Today's project was to teach I Samuel Chapter 20 to our growing Bible study group. In this chapter, raging obsessive King Saul goes completely over the edge, cursing out his son Jonathan as a bastard, a fool and a traitor for not turning David over to be killed--so Jonathan can ascend to the throne after him. (Both Saul and Jonathan know the prophecy concerning David as the next king of Israel, but instead of accepting God's word as Jonathan does, Saul is determined to preserve his royal line).

The coup de grace comes when Saul publicly hurls a spear at his own son, who has honored his father at all times, sending him out of the New Moon feast in a rage.

We reflected as a group on what Jonathan's emotions must have been at that point. Of course he was enraged, as scripture points out. But what about shame for his father's disgraceful, violent, public behavior? Finding himself in the horrible position of being "caught in the middle" of a one-sided war between two people he loved? Loyal to his father to his dying day, while knowing that Saul was demented and demon-oppressed, the Holy Spirit having left him long ago? Compassion toward his father, remaining in his service to be that godly advisor to the throne? And just as impactfully, Jonathan had literally lost his best friend.

Those of us who have dealt with or are dealing with a loved one with mental illness can identify with Jonathan, we all realized. The real person, the parent who treated us with kindness, selflessly focusing on the best for us, is gone, having become spiteful, bitter, verbally or even physically abusive, due to dementia. Or worse yet, doesn't recognize us at all.

In my case, a husband who was never happier than when helping others with any kind of electrical, building or auto repair at no charge, who set up our computers, entertainment systems and installed our phones and sprinkler systems at two houses, can barely peel a banana due to Alzheimer's. A man who bought his first home with his own earnings at 24, ended a wonderful career by age 53, far too young to be retired. He could not maintain a thought long enough to reliably follow through on directions. In a manufacturing environment, that was dangerous and costly. He doesn't remember the places he worked, even when I point out that we are driving through the cities where the plants are located.

Yet the Spirit is still with my Steve! He loves to worship, and has a memory of hundreds of praise songs that enables him to close his eyes and fully focus on each song. Praise the Lord! It is truly amazing that a person who cannot remember to form coherent sentences at times, can obey Ephesians 5:19,

...speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.

When a believer is filled with the Holy Spirit, all things are possible, as the Originator of song, gives a song to our heart and mind, even in the night (Job 35:10), and in the night places of fear and dread of the future. Jesus goes before my husband and me, and our children, no matter how our family dynamics change due to Alzheimer's!

Psalm 32:7, penned by David to rejoice in restored relationship with God, wrote these words of hope that comprised a popular worship song of the 1980s:

You are my hiding place;

You shall preserve me from


You shall surround me with

songs of deliverance.


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