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)
I’d been writing all
day—seven hours straight and counting. Definitely beyond the wise max for one
sitting. But I had so much more to get done on this rare day without family doctor
visits or other interruptions. I had to capture those hours.
My head throbbed.
Unconsciously, I brought my hands up to my temples. I’m so tired.
That’s when the email
dinged. I’m usually disciplined about ignoring emails until I’m finished working.
But when my right hand returned to the mouse, it clicked “Open Outlook” on its
own. There I found the email—a devotion
with a subhead that grabbed me:
Coffee Breaks Are Not Optional
It might as well have been
flashing blue neon. I read further: “We must … learn how to stop working.
That’s called rest.… It was on God’s Top Ten List.”
Hmm. Is Someone looking over my shoulder? Kind of eerie.
I may not have much trouble
with some of the commands on God’s Top Ten list: Don’t steal—okay, what’s not mine doesn’t belong in my
sticky fingers. Honor your parents—I
work at that every day. Don’t take God’s name in vain—I love that Name. But Sabbath rest? Surely, God you didn’t mean
for me to get worked up about that one. Yet, it is prominent on the list, which
is why I realized the devotion written by Ed Gungor was pretty much an email
from God, sent via Ed’s keyboard.
I did a little homework on
rest and found a pertinent challenge in Hebrews: “Whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did
from his. Let us therefore
strive to enter that rest” (Hebrews
4:10-11 ESV). Rest is
a privilege God offers—and it’s increasingly obvious that He considers failure
to accept this offer an affront—a sin every bit as appalling as failure to keep
any of His other commands.
But God … I began my moan.
Just stop! You know what to do!
pushed back from the keyboard and dragged myself to the family room to rest.
Was it in the schedule? Nope. Was it necessary? You bet! Mostly because I never
want to be on the wrong side of the Word—even when it arrives via an email from
I was standing in line
at the post office when my cell phone rang. It registered as one of my
colleagues. That’s odd. She always
“Hello? Julie?” Her
voice sounded strained, panicked. She didn’t pause for me to say hello. “The
speaker just cancelled for my conference; it starts tomorrow. I have hundreds
of people on their way from all over the country. Please tell me you’re
available to replace her.”
And so, for neither
the first nor the last time, I became (trumpet flourish):The Replacement. I
flew into a frenzy. I had to reshuffle appointments while creating a fresh
presentation to parallel the topics the original speaker advertised. I had only
hours to pack for the week-long trip before getting on the road.
Don’t think for a
minute I’m complaining. I’m a willing replacement. When a conference director
or TV interviewer tells me, “We’d love to have you back,” I always reply, “I’d
love to be back. And, if you ever need a last-minute replacement, I’d be happy
to fill in.” I mean it, too.
There might be a
temptation for some to feel slighted, like, why wasn’t I invited first? But a
true replacement is as Paul suggested to Timothy, “ready in season and out of
season” (2 Tim. 4:2 ESV). That’s actually a great motto. Like a backup
quarterback, I never know which day I’ll get called in.
I was noodling on this
as I prepared for a last-minute radio broadcast the other morning. That’s when
my Bible reading took me to Acts. The followers, huddled in the upper room
waiting, did a head count. Only eleven original disciples remained, since the
betrayer Judas had allowed guilt to drive him to suicide.
Peter, remembering an
Old-Testament prophecy, knew the disciples (learners), about to turn into apostles
(witnesses), needed a twelfth man.
My eyes froze on
something I’d never noticed before. The circle of Christ-followers included a
crew of replacements waiting on the bench. Everywhere Jesus had gone during His
ministry years, these folks had followed. They’d heard all His sermons. They’d
slept where He slept and travelled the roads He trod. There had always been the
big twelve—the ones we hear about. But there were others, just as faithful,
just as attentive, just as available.
After identifying two
of these followers with potential, Matthias and Justus, Peter voiced the
group’s prayer, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you
have chosen as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry” (Acts 1:24-25
When the answer came
back as Matthias, Matthias willingly became the twelfth man replacement: “And
he was numbered with the eleven apostles,” Luke reports in a matter-of-fact
tone (Acts 1:26).
We know little about
Matthias. Clearly, he didn’t trumpet his own publicity, but God took notice of
his willingness to serve, his faithful heart, his availability. So, in honor of
Matthias, and replacements near and far, I’ve prepared a Manifesto for
As a Professional
Replacement I will …
be prepared to jump in with little
check my ego at the door
bring a good attitude with me
fill in wherever I’m needed
seek others’ best interests over my own
Matthias gained an
unparalleled privilege when he agreed to become God’s Replacement. I gained the
privilege of addressing an attentive, enthusiastic crowd at my friend’s
conference. And so it will go any time we agree to join God’s team as The