Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified…for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
I dreamed Ray and I were in a kayak floating down a stream when a shark surfaced. He kept bumping our boat, consistently bumping, bumping. We didn’t know how to deal with its annoying, threatening presence. Then I heard the words “Befriend it.”
Janet relayed this story to me soon after her husband was diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s. She readily identified the persistent shark as Ray’s debilitating disease. She knew the Lord was showing her—through the dream—how to move forward. Instead of continuing to fight a losing battle, they both began to embrace Ray’s illness. Their changed mindset has catapulted them into a place of peace.
So how does befriending something as pernicious as Alzheimer’s lead to peace?
Janet said once they stopped fighting the diagnosis, they began to recognize an unprecedented flow of God’s mercies. When Ray couldn’t remember where he’d placed certain items, God consistently directed them where to look. Where before they took the little pleasantries of life for granted, they now cherish them, from enjoying the beauty of snow-capped mountains out their window to watching Jeopardy and playing Uno together. They are learning to laugh, even through tears. Ray’s Alzheimer’s has led them both into a deeper reliance on God and a richer spiritual life.
Far from denying reality, they know what lies ahead. They experience frustration, sadness and fear. But their lives resonate with more joy than sorrow, with more victory than defeat. Yes, Ray is walking into the fog. But they know there is One holding their hand through the hazy path. And they have confidence a day of resplendent everlasting light awaits.
We’re not always called to fight the giants in our lives. Sometimes, like Janet and Ray, we must embrace them. But when we surrender our fear and sorrow to the Lord, we discover embedded peace and joy emanating from his presence.
So in whatever you are facing today, or if darkness looms on the horizon, I pray you will discover, as my dear friends have, you are not alone. You don’t have to be afraid of the sharks. You serve a God who promises to be with you. Always. No matter what.