We had the joy of spending this past weekend with our family down in Tallahassee ... staying with the newlyweds (Yates and Alyson), spending time with Dane and Brinkley (only a month or so from baby Ella's birth!), having Tanner (college boy) with us, as well as Seth and Griff (we were missing Addison, Tam, and Cobi). We had a truly wonderful time - wrecking Yates and Alyson's apartment, tail-gating prior to a football game, eating meals together, going to worship on Sunday morning at Centerpoint PCA, etc.
In God's providence during our pre-game tail-gating I also had the joy of running into some old friends from Chattahoochee. It's always fun to see folks like that and catch up on what everyone is doing. But in the midst of this grand reunion I was told that the dad of my best friend from high school had a stroke and was in the hospital there in Tallahassee. This man was in some ways another father to me during my teenage years. He and his wife always treated me as one of their own sons ... I knew I had to go see him. So after worship Sunday morning we headed over to Tallahassee Memorial to visit with Mr. Dudley.
He had suffered a stroke several days prior and was unresponsive. Sadly I was only able to speak to him rather than converse with him. His son, my friend, John wasn't there at the hospital at that time. He was back in Chattahoochee helping to pack up some of his mom's belongings and such so they could move her to a facility in Tallahassee. She has been suffering with Alzheimer's for many years and needs full-time care. And up to the point of his stroke, Mr. Dudley had been caring for his bride of 59 years, meeting all of her needs and providing her with constant love, companionship, devotion, and attention.
I was reminded of my own father in law, Dr. New ("Pa-Pa" as he was known to our kids), who cared for his wife many years as she suffered with dementia. We made the mistake one time of asking him why he didn't find a nice facility for her that could take care of her needs. His response was direct, decisive, and abundantly clear ... "Nobody else took a vow to care for her; that's my job and I'll do it as long as the Lord allows me the privilege to do so." We didn't ask that question again!! I'm confident this was the same mentality Mr. Dudley had as he cared for his wife, the one he vowed to love and provide for as long as he was able. Yet their bodies did not allow them to continue this task, which they both considered a joy and privilege! Thank you Pa-Pa and Mr. Dudley for your example; thank you Lord for Your grace extended to me through them.
Both these men point me to Christ, the One who vowed to love His bride and care for her (the church). And the great news is that Jesus' body won't wear out, He won't have a stroke, He won't become disabled, He won't grow weary ... His love is everlasting! Today let's be encouraged that we, the church, have One who will never forsake or leave us, who will always love and care for us.
And let's also remember to pray for those many other examples of spouses and family members who lovingly care for family members who are suffering and unable to care for themselves. Their only strength is to be found in Christ and His grace.