Fears have a tendency to pile, layer upon layer, until the collected heap can seem to stand high and sharp against the heavens.
My frail grandmother is grasping the final moments of her earth-days. It’s a painful thing, this passing from flesh and blood into eternity. The outer shell clings with such determined obstinacy to life, even as the spirit yearns desperately to enter the glorious freedom of home. I watch her battle between flesh and spirit with a twisting heart, and I mourn with her.
Entering her sterile room, I ease myself to kneel at the bedside. She’s curled towards the far wall, unaware of my presence, shuddering. I wrap arms around her tiny frame, gingerly gathering her close, and whisper to her heart.
“I’m here. You’re not alone. You are loved.”
Stroking that salt-and-peppered crown of glory, I wipe the trickle that runs the crevice of her cheek.
“Why are you crying?”
She answers back with quavering finality. “Everything I’ve ever feared has happened to me.”
I am stunned. Grieved.
As dementia has taken hold, I have watched the degeneration. I have observed the digression, wrestling with her for the missing word, the elusive name, the forgotten date. It’s been overwhelming, this gradual loss of all that once was a near as breath. Intensely frustrating, painful.
But this is a woman who has fearlessly, persistently stormed the gates of the enemy. A mere wisp of a warrior, advancing the Kingdom from the position with which her Commander entrusted her, she has served selflessly, giving everything to see her Jesus exalted and then giving even more. She has overcome buffeting trials which would have capsized others: the loss of a first-born, only son; the loss of four Godly husbands. And yet, she has persevered, singing eager praises of His goodness and proclaiming the mighty power of the Lord. A spirit indomitable.
I hold my breath, emotionally socked. Apprehension skulks in, and fear insinuates. It bullies. Coming to set up camp, maneuvering to establish garrison in my soul, it relentlessly assaults my heart.
This woman who has declared herself a servant of the Most High God, where has that devotion landed her? She’s sinking with nothing left: not the faded vision of victories or even the faint sting of long-ago defeats. Isn’t that the way the world runs? Don’t we all end in pitiful helplessness, unable to retain our flimsy grasp on sanity or strength?
I suck in oxygen and find myself reeling.
Who’s to say I’ll not end in the same state: my mind gradually darkening as my body begins to shut down systems? Doubting the goodness of God? Apprehending nothing but fears after a lifetime of service to the King?
Jesus, no. Please, no.
And above the clamor, I hear the tranquil call of the voice I love better than any earthly sound.
How much do you trust me, Tiffany?
I vent back all the ugly fears which have crowded my heart.
Trust?! This is about trust? I don’t want to trust if this is where it takes me! Jesus, how could trust lead down this path?
It’s always about trust, Daughter.
Will you trust My goodness?
Pulling into a shadowy corner, I let the tears come fast and hard.
Oh, Lord, you know I love you. I want nothing more in life than You. Help me, Father. Vanquish these fears. Rescue me, Jesus. I long to trust, but I’m just so afraid.
And in that tiny, stale room, the Spirit of God rushes in like a murmuring salt breeze. He wraps me gentle and whispers close.
I’m here. You’re not alone. You are loved.
Truth invades. I breath deep and slow.
Oh, Jesus. I choose You. I choose trust.
Once again, I ease myself to kneel at the narrow bedside, wrapping my arms around her tiny frame. Gingerly gathering her close, I call to the One who holds her life dear in His hands.
Together we enter His presence, vanquishing fear. We stand against the onslaught of the enemy, taking back territory which was unrightfully stolen. And despite her mind’s lack of true comprehension, her spirit stills, the sobs subsiding.
We remember. We remember the goodness of her God. We recount His unfailing love, His marvelous deeds. We recall His mighty works on her behalf. We list the names of those whom He has given to cherish her, her precious, adored family.
At last, with purposeful effort, she turns to face me.
And she smiles.