STRENGTH: a new portrait of my parents

– Grace, David, Max

 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Now the fall is here, bright and clear and a little cooler, and I am encouraging my mum and dad to get outside more. Mum, now that she’s 90, has finally agreed to use a cane; Dad, at 93, is leaning on his walker the best he can; Max, perfectly calm and patient, just goes with the flow.

My mother is very pleased with the cane! She says it has given her some new confidence. This is an important observation, because – time and again – people who need help tend to reject the assistance because they see it as an affront to their confidence.

I still remember a key conversation I had with Rebekah’s dad twenty years ago, after he fell – yet again. “I’m not using that walker because it’s undignified!” he insisted. “How dignified does it feel laying facedown on the sidewalk?” I responded. “Oh… well…

Of course I’m not just talking about the elderly or walking. How about help parenting? Or help struggling with grief? Or help managing finances? Or help with alcoholism? Or help when it comes to tackling some project that is beyond our skillset?

Receiving help does not take confidence away, it increases it.

Faith: not a crutch but a training aid:

This is especially true when it comes to our relationship with God. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard faith dismissed for this reason: “Religion is nothing more than a crutch!” But nothing could be further from the truth. Faith in Jesus is more like a training program. Instead of a sign of weakness following Jesus is a path to strength.

Strength rooted, of course, in humility. First the humility to understand our need. Then the humility to put ourselves in a posture of learning. Then the humility – constant – to recognize that – as Paul says – “for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

When I see my parents I see two immeasurably strong people. They have relied on God and experienced God’s mercy and grace so much over their combined 183 years. Their bodies may not be working so well anymore; their minds may falter too; but they have a rich relationship with God, and that – in the final analysis – is all they need to move forward.

That is real strength. – DEREK

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