Author Julie-Allyson Ieron offers devotional thoughts and Bible-based encouragement to overwhelmed caregivers of aging parents and other relatives.
Julie is the author of more than two dozen books, including The Overwhelmed Woman's Guide to ... Caring for Aging Parents. (www.womencareforagingparents.com)
Demo of Julie's Bible Reference Library
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Servant Position Vacated, Apply Here
overnight that one of my sweet, wonderful mentor/friends from the church I
attended in college, Rita Jo Yerden, moved up to heaven not quite two days ago.
Rita Jo exhibited a compassion and sensitivity and an ability to recognize pain
in others that I never forgot. In fact, I wrote about her in my first book, Names of Women of the Bible. I’m so glad
that when I went back to Anderson, IN, for my 25th college reunion a
few years ago, I had a long chat with her during the intermission of a concert
at Park Place Church of God.
indulge me, then, I offer this excerpt in tribute to Rita Jo – and in hopes
that each of us as caregivers can follow her example. For, as heaven gains
servants like her, new servant positions are vacated down here.
I am a woman who is deeply
troubled. . . . I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. (1 Samuel 1:15)
It was to be three weeks of
bliss. The trip of a lifetime.
I had been chosen to join a
touring choir on a mission to Europe. Our church's minister of music and his
wife, Rita Jo, would lead the tour.
While in Germany, we enjoyed
the hospitality of host churches. They served us delicious cold cuts and cheese
with heavily buttered hard rolls. Every afternoon we stopped at out-of-the-way
bakeries for a stretch break and to enjoy luscious cream-filled pastries.
Soon after our arrival, my
stomach began to complain. At first it was just a little discomfort, then the
pain increased. I missed several concerts, having to lie down backstage while
my friends were out front ministering. Discouragement crept in. It wasn't until
five years later that my physician discovered the milk allergy—to cream,
cheese, butter —that caused these symptoms. All I knew at the time was that I
was missing all the good stuff by being sick.
One afternoon Rita Jo pushed
a folded piece of paper into my hand. On it she had handwritten the words to
the hymn "He Giveth More Grace." I read and reread those words,
contemplating their meaning, desiring the grace they bespoke.
Hannah, whose name means
grace, came to know that grace intimately during her deep distress. She experienced
the miracle-working grace of God, because she carried her burden right to Him.
Hannah had good reason to be
depressed. You and I certainly would have been troubled in her circumstance.
Peninnah, her husband's other wife, had many children; Hannah had none.
Peninnah, the Scriptures say, tormented her rival for Elkanah's attention:
"Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her
till she wept and would not eat" (1 Samuel 1:7). In her pain and in utter
disregard for anyone who might be watching, Hannah bared her soul to the Lord,
begging Him to give her a son, vowing to give that child back to Him for His
In response, the Scriptures
record a beautiful phrase, "and the Lord remembered her" (1 Samuel
1:19). She touched the Father's heart with her tears and prayers, and He
extended His hand to her. God honored Hannah's sincerity and fervency. He
granted her not only that baby, but later He also gave her other sons and
The American Heritage
Dictionary defines grace as "A favor rendered by one who need not do
so." God acted graciously on Hannah's behalf, not because He was obligated
to do so, but because He chose to do so. Moreover, He displayed His
graciousness through her, by using her firstborn son (whom she named Samuel,
which means, "heard of God") to rule His people in justice and honor.
In his old age, long after his mother was gone, Samuel had the privilege of
anointing Israel's greatest king, David.
Hannah's response to the
Lord's provision was as exemplary as her request. First, she did as she had
promised. She gave the child Samuel to minister in the Lord's temple to become
a blessing back to the Lord. Second, she gave all the glory to God, her heart
overflowing into a poetic prayer of acknowledgment and thanks. "My heart
rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. . . . There is no one
holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our
God" (1 Samuel 2:1–2).
In some obvious ways, we are
unlike Hannah. In few of our homes do two wives of the same man live together
(although if they did, feuding would not be unthinkable). And in our culture,
inability to have children is not thought to be a curse from God, as it was in
But in the ways that count,
we are very much alike. Our needs, our heavy burdens, the demands of life, and our
tormentors and problems too often threaten to overwhelm us. Like I did on my
college bus trip, we often suffer alone, when with just a prayer we can call
upon the one who will "remember us" as He remembered Hannah all those
The writer of
Proverbs noted that God "mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble"
(3:34). It is a truth James quotes in his epistle (4:6).
It was in humbly
pouring out her heart to God that Hannah found her burden lifted. Her life can
be an example to us of what God can do—if we do our part. We are told in
Scripture what that part is: "Let us then approach the throne of grace
with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our
time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
It has been many
years since Rita Jo handed me that paper, but I'll never forget its effect upon
me. Those words reminded me that God, through His only Son Jesus whom He
graciously sacrificed to meet the ultimate need of humanity, stands ready to
provide for all my needs through His abundant, overflowing supply. And He does
this not because of any obligation, but because He chooses to do so.
My dear, loving
Father, I need a portion of that overflowing supply of grace today, and I know
so many others around me have that same need. Please provide for me, and equip
me to be a conduit of Your grace in the lives of those I love. Amen.