April 2006 – Love keeps no record of wrongs By Barb Tennant*
When I learned my mother had tried to abort me, I was so angry. I remember standing at the kitchen window yelling at God: “I asked you to show me how to love my parents and this is what you do?” I had my Bible in my hand and flung it across the floor.
Later, I picked up the Bible and defiantly said: “If you are real, prove it!” I flipped the pages open and plopped my finger down on the page to these lines in Psalm 139:
For you created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
...your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book.
Those words hit hard. I wrote over them, in my Bible, “GOD PLANNED ME!” My parents didn’t plan me. They didn’t even want me, but God had a plan for my life. Over the next few days God spoke to me very clearly. I didn’t hear Him speak audibly, but He spoke as I was quiet before Him. This is how our conversation went:
God asked, “Barb, do you remember when you were little, in the back of your closet, and you said you hated my guts?”
“Yes, I remember.”
He said: “I loved you then. Do you remember slitting the eyes out of your sister’s bride doll?”
“Yes, Lord, I remember.”
He said: “I loved you then. Do you remember holding toads over the fire and dropping them in so something would hurt the way you did?”
“Yes, Lord, I remember.”
He said, “I loved you even then, when you didn’t earn it or deserve it. Now I am asking you to love your mom in the same way I loved you. Can you do that?”
My answer came slowly and it was: “No, but I am willing to let you love her through me.” I asked God to show me how to love my parents. He wanted to show me His kind of love that was far above and beyond anything I could have dared to imagine.
My dad made a commitment to Christ six days before he died in 1985. In 1993, my mother was hospitalized for dehydration. She was in her mid-70s, living alone and getting along fairly well, but she was an alcoholic. I stayed with her while she went through delirium tremors. Going “cold turkey” caused severe brain damage. She had to go into a nursing facility where she still resides. She doesn’t recognize anyone and is in a constant state of confusion. She spends her days in fear, anxiety and depression.
We try to visit her every week and continue to pray for her. I’m not sure how to best love her. A few years ago, I was running out of ways to pray. Her situation looked hopeless.
I began to think euthanasia made sense, and that scared me. In my head, I knew that nothing is impossible for God, but my heart was having issues with that. I asked God to refresh me with His vision for my mom.
One morning in my devotions I was reading Ezekiel 37 about the valley of the dry bones. I felt God saying to read it from the perspective of the bones. The bones had no voice, they didn’t ask for anything because they couldn’t speak. They were dried up, scattered and disjointed, much like my mom.
God asked Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?”
Ezekiel answered, “You alone know, Lord.”
God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones and He would cause His breath to enter them. God was calling Ezekiel to be an intercessor for an impossible situation. I could relate to that. That’s how I began to intercede for my mom, that God would breathe His breath into her soul. Will He answer my prayer? Yes! How will He answer? I don’t know. I don’t have to know. My responsibility is to love her. God’s responsibility is to save her.
When Ezekiel began to intercede there came a “rattling.” There is a tremendous power in prayer. It shakes things up. That’s what happened when I prayed that God would help me love my parents. When my mom had told me about the abortion attempt, there came a “rattling.” I almost quit when things were shaken up because it wasn’t what I expected. Thankfully, God gave me another chance to stand still and let Him piece things together.
About a month ago we were visiting with my mom as usual, talking to her, massaging her arm as she stared at the floor. All of a sudden she looked at me, eye-to-eye, and said, “I love you.”
That was the end of it. She went back to her stare but it was enough for me. There was a “rattling” somewhere within her.
God still delights in bringing life to hopeless and dead situations. Death was no match for Christ at the cross – or in your life now. All of life in all its stages is sacred to Him.
* Barb Tennant lives with her husband Randy and their daughter Julie in Syracuse, New York. The Tennants have three other children and four grandchildren. Her story below is excerpted from a speech at a Sanctity of Life event in January 2006. Barb grew up with a deep resentment toward her alcoholic parents and in rebellion against God. As an adult she accepted Christ, then began building a relationship with her parents only to learn that her mother had tried to abort her.
Love protects, perseveres By David Langerfeld*
Her family had come to America from Sweden. She had a typical Scandinavian look – long blonde hair, blue eyes, long slender legs, and soft, blemish-free skin. She was gorgeous. In fact, a professional international photographer in her hometown thought she was so pretty he used a photograph of her to advertise his business.
But that was not her real beauty. She was raised by wonderful Christian parents and became a Christian at an early age. Integrity, honesty and sweetness were just a few of her characteristics. In fact, at her engagement party, her sister, who knew her better than anyone, said she had never heard her tell a lie. All of her friends said the same thing about her: She was the sweetest girl they knew. She would never speak a harsh word about anyone. Everyone loved to be around her.
A young man she met in her freshman year started dating her and fell in love with her – both her outer photographic beauty and the wonderful Godly character of her inward beauty. She fell in love with him and they spent every free moment they could with each other over the next four years. They were committed to each other and they believed in waiting long before the “True Love Waits” campaign ever existed.
One week after they graduated from college, they were married. They loved each other’s company. They would walk together, exercise together, go on bike rides, chaperone youth trips, go to movies and eat pizza. They were so much in love.
She taught school for a year and then became a bookkeeper. One day at work, for no apparent reason, she lost her balance and fell. She was later able to get up and went to see a doctor that night. The following day, it happened again. For no apparent reason, she lost her balance and fell. This time, though, she couldn’t get up. She had lost all feeling in her legs. They wouldn’t move. Her husband had to come to the office and pick her up in his arms and carry her to the hospital. After six days in the hospital, the doctor gave this beautiful, active young lady the dreadful news. She had multiple sclerosis (MS) and she would continue to deteriorate.
This young couple, who had now been married only 18 months, would face new challenges. All their future plans would change, everyday life would change. They would change.
For the next 30 years, this young lady did deteriorate. She had to take anti-inflammatory steroids. Her bones became brittle, breaking easily. Her face became puffy and she could not even put on make-up. She went from walker to electric scooter to wheelchair. She could no longer feed herself, write her name or control her own bodily functions. She now had to have someone stay with her 24 hours a day.
If that couple had not had a committed love based first on a personal relationship and commitment to Jesus Christ, and second on a commitment to each other, the marriage never would have lasted. In fact, a large percentage of the marriages in which a spouse has MS end in divorce. The healthy spouse won’t stay committed to the constant care and the physical, psychological and mental changes that continue to occur.
Please hear me carefully – this couple refuses to be called heroes. They are not super-Christians. They are ordinary people, empowered by the love of God and a love for each other to do what the world considers beyond normal and extraordinary.
I know this for a fact because that woman, that beautiful young lady who will never walk again, is Lynda, my wife. She’s not a hero. I’m not a hero. We’re children of God, doing what the children of God are called to do. Doing what God expects of every man and every woman who make a vow before God on their wedding day.
Hollywood often portrays a man sacrificing his life for the woman he loves. In the world’s eyes, he’s a hero. In God’s eyes, a hero is an ordinary man making an extraordinary sacrifice. Sacrificial, committed love is the rule, not the exception. We’re not super-saints, we’re not heroes when we’re being faithful and committed to our mates. We’re simply doing what God has called every husband and wife to do since the beginning of time.
* David Langerfeld is associate pastor of Harrisburg Baptist Church, Tupelo, Mississippi. His “Daily Encourager” is available via e-mail; contact him at email@example.com.
For more information on sanctity of life issues, contact:
Christian Medical and Dental Associations
P. O. Box 7500
Bristol, TN 37621