The Pastor’s Piece – March 12, 2023

The Pastor’s Piece


March 12, 2023

Several years ago, I needed a rim for one of my old tractors. It’s a 1958 IHC 330 loader tractor. After I bought the tractor, I took the loader off and it (the loader) has been sitting in the corner of the shed ever since. We were busy restoring the old gem when we noticed it had a cracked rim on the right rear. I called a place a few miles up north in Wisconsin and they had one, so I made the trek up there to pick it up. I’ve done business with these guys before, and I like them. It had been a while since I was there last, and I wasn’t expecting what I saw. The older guy who started the business had handed it over to his grandson who was doing a right fine job with it. The problem was the grandpa had gotten dementia and was constantly in the way of the younger man. And the younger man was frustrated and didn’t have a lot of patience with his grandpa. I watched grandpa as he took his old John Deere tractor with a loader and attempted to load the rim into the back of my truck. He was having a terrible time driving the tractor, using the hand clutch, and the loader, and just basically trying to do what he always used to do. His grandson yelled at him and sent him to the house. Grandma heard the yelling and came out and met grandpa at the door. If you’ve ever been in a similar situation, you know how painful it is to watch your loved one go down that road.

Later, in a totally different situation, I visited an elderly lady in the nursing home. Her family had placed her there because they felt she needed 24 hour care. As we visited, the grandma told me all about her house. I learned about her furniture, the dining room table that had been handed down to her from her grandmother, the woodwork around the doors, the kitchen, the yard, her vegetable garden and her flowers. I had driven by her place many times and knew the  place well. She told me that after two months she was going to move home again. That’s what kept her alive. She didn’t know that her children had already had an auction and sold all her household goods and the house. I didn’t have the heart to break her heart. A few months later she passed away. 

Another lady I know is in her upper 90’s. She has been active her whole life. She’s lived in several states, danced a lot, laughed a lot and has really enjoyed life. I first got to know her when she was 93 years old. I would go to her house to visit, read the Bible, pray, and have communion. One time I took a friend with me, and he brought his guitar and we sang hymns. She got covid when she was about 94 and it almost killed her, but after spending a few weeks in the hospital she kicked it and moved back home. As time went on, she began to lose her eyesight until she got to the place where she could no longer read books or news print, even with a giant magnifying glass attached to her computer.  Now she spends her days in a nursing home, in a self-imposed regimented daily routine. She is making the best of her situation. As we chatted the other day, she wondered why God doesn’t just take her home. Many of us wonder about that all the time. What is the purpose of the later years, when the joy of life seems to have escaped and there’s no longer anything to look forward to? I don’t have the answer to that question, except that God is the maker of life, and He has each day of our lifespan pre-planned even before we are born. I can see she has a very positive effect on the nurses and people that come into her room and care for her. She offers a ray of sunlight each day into their lives, as she does mine when I go and visit her. She said every night when she lies down to go to bed, she tells the Lord she’s ready to go. But she always wakes up the next morning …  still here. I told her I don’t know the ways of God, or the whys, but I know I can trust the sovereignty of God to have a plan, and not make any mistakes. I said: “Perhaps God is giving you this time to prepare you to meet Him.” That might be it.

It’s tough when age steals away the joy and pleasure of life. It’s difficult when someone realizes that they’re not going to get better. That they won’t be able to go back out to the flower garden, or the grocery store, or do their own laundry. It’s tough when someone realizes it’s not going to get any better than this. That’s when I encourage them to find comfort in God’s Word. And to remember that our Creator doesn’t make mistakes. He has a plan and purpose and one day we will see it clearly. Until then, we continue on, praying and trusting. 

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them,’” (Eccl 12:1).