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)
Mom and I
were going to visit a friend who’d been placed on hospice. As I got physically
ready, I realized I needed to be spiritually ready to offer a word of hope, of encouragement. I know this sweet friend has a firm assurance on
where she’ll spend eternity. Yet, there is sadness about leaving loved ones,
about leaving this world.
makeup and hair were done, I sat at my desk and turned to the Psalms. Where else? I flipped
backward through the book.
150, 149, 148, 147, 146: all beautiful songs of joyful praise. Not quite right.
143, maybe. Begging
God to answer our prayers and deliver us. But, it’s talking about reviving. That’s
not likely for this sister in Christ.
139. Nope. She’s certainly not running from Him—more like stumbling toward Him.
Keep looking, Julie. 136, 135, 134,
more praise songs. Not resonating today.
I skipped down a few. 125, 124, 123
too much about wicked scoffers. That’s not where we want our thoughts to rest.
122. So sad—the reminder she’s no longer able to go into the house of the Lord.
Then my eyes
lit on 121:
I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my
My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will
Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right
The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night.
The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your
The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever. (NASB)
That’s the one!
as I held her hand and read Psalm 121, her lips moved and her tears flowed in
joyful recognition. I noticed Mom and our other companions tearing. After all,
this passage holds as much value to us—as we face the land of the living. Look
to the Lord—expect help from Him. (This reminds me of Jesus’ description of the
Holy Spirit as Parakletos, which can
translate as “the Helper.”)
Just as we have been
approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing
men, but God who examines our hearts.
(1 Thessalonians 2:4)
not a monolithic club to be courted and manipulated by those seeking not our
God but only our vote (in other words, anytime other than a presidential
election year), few outside the faith give much credence to Christians. In
fact, truth be told, in greater society it’s rather an embarrassment to be a
Christian. Add the label evangelical
or the term born again, and most of
our contemporaries consider us out of step at best and intolerant at worst.
count the times I’ve been on a plane or train en route to a speaking engagement when my seatmate has struck up a
speaker at a conference in Dallas (or San Diego or Denver or whatever venue).”
“Oh, I hate
public speaking. What do you talk about?”
“I’m also an
author, and I’m talking from one of my books.”
me I should write a book. I’ll do it some day! Yes I will. By the way, what do
you write about?”
Now is the
moment I feared would come. What do I say?
write centers around Jesus Christ and how He is not only relevant but
absolutely essential to life on this planet and safe passage into heaven. As
Paul would tell the Thessalonian Christians, that’s the message with which we
believers in Christ are entrusted. Notice another key phrase in the opening
Scripture verse. “Approved by God.” God has vetted us and equipped us to
represent the message. We have received His stamp of approval to carry the
When you put
it that way … There really is no way to explain what I do and leave Christ out
of the discussion. (Actually, whether we work in secular or religious
occupations, there’s no way to explain who we are and leave Christ out of the
there’s that rule about avoiding politics and religion in polite society. And
there’s the real possibility that the word Christian
will shut down the connection we were building and slam the door on warm
conversation for the remainder of the journey.
So, will I
mumble with my head down hoping my companion will just drop the issue? Will I appear
to be ashamed of the gospel that brings me life and could bring it to my
companion, too? Or will I take my chances and speak clearly, “not as pleasing
men, but God”?
I know what
the apostle Paul’s answer would be. In fact, the way the good news of Jesus
reached those Thessalonians was a testament to how bold Paul was to speak the
gospel without apology. The greater population of Thessalonica was so hostile
to the message that the group of believers there had to sneak Paul and his
preaching companion Silas out of the city under the cover of night. (For that harrowing
story, Acts 17 is a must-read!)
later Paul was able to write to the church in that city and to say with the
utmost truthfulness that he spoke “the message” with “full conviction” (1
Thessalonians 1:5) among them.
challenge for us is to speak with full conviction and then to live out the
truth in a winsome way among our contemporaries. There, too, Paul and Silas had
no reason to be ashamed. In fact, he mentioned to the believers that they knew “what
kind of men we proved to be among you.” Then he commended them for following
his example by becoming imitators of the Lord. He knew this because from them
the gospel was going out and touching the surrounding culture (1: 8).
really not about us. It’s about the message sounding across the world. The
message that’s entrusted to us. The message we’re approved by God to carry. He
entrusted it to many generations before us. And in each generation, there were
those who were unashamed to claim the name of Christ, even to the point of
facing death or torture.