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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Caregiving, Your Calling for This Season

Treasured friend,

I'm so sorry it's been so long since I've written. I've been praying for you in these weeks, but I've also been rather down. It's easy, you know, to succumb to discouragement when you've been exhausted to the bone and something small like a common little sinus bug swoops in to hold you down for the count for two weeks. You've certainly noticed--in yourself and in your caregiving charges--that so often illness and discouragement are unwilling life partners.

In that mode and mindset, still fatigued and sniffling, I opened my email today to find a newsletter to which I subscribe and an article that grabbed my attention and wouldn't let go. It was written by John Ortberg, who used to be at the Willow Creek Church in the Chicagoland area, and under whose ministry I've sat in many midweek and weekend worship services over the years. And it was absolutely relevant to us as caregivers. The title is

Guard Your Calling, Frodo

Every worthy task can wear you down.
Of course, you'll recognize the takeoff on Lord of the Rings. But the relevance isn't merely cultural. Although the article is written for leaders (it was in Leadership Journal), it is just as significant for caregivers.

In this season of our lives, we often are called to sacrifice much for the sake of the calling God has placed on us to guard and care for our elder loved ones. And absolutely, the task is worthy. So, like Ortberg points out, we can expect this task to wear us down. If you doubt this (like you haven't seen it in your own life), my last two weeks bear it out in Technacolor.

I think of the words of the apostle Paul:
Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of the Messiah’s gift. Ephesians 4:1-7 (HCSB)
Walk worthy of the calling, my friend, the caregiving calling. For you have received the charge from Christ Himself. And you already have (not will have at some future date) not only the calling, but the equipping for the task. He has placed at your disposal and mine, all the humility, gentleness, patience, love, diligence, unity of purpose, and peace we need to accomplish our task--and of course He gives us His Holy Spirit Who holds these for us in overflowing supply. Our hope in fulfilling this calling is that our Lord who overcame the world is beside us cheering us on and propelling us forward. This is the gift of our Messiah, our Redeemer, to all of us who believe.

So, take a moment or two to follow the link above to read Ortberg's short article--as a challenge and a reminder to continue guarding the call God has placed on your life in this moment. And better yet, take many moments to meditate on and pray through the Ephesians 4 passage to begin to appropriate those amazing resources God places at your disposal. I know I'm going to camp out there for the next few days--to drink it all in, so I can pour it all out.

Many blessings to you, my friend,


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