In the valley of the shadow …

Are you taking care of someone who is approaching the end of their life in the body in this world, or do you know someone who is? What is that like?  How could it be made better?  Is the approach of the end of our life in the body in this world a time of increasing rest or desperation; are we tightening our grip on our possessions or releasing them?

The biblical meaning of the word translated “faith,” “belief,” or “trust” has to do with honesty about what our life depends on, but the corruption of human nature makes faith a choice, determination, and work of our own. Instead of living at rest in the truth of God’s great care for us, we live in fear and worry of not being in control of the content of our lives. This fear and worry increase as age or circumstances impress on us our disabilities—when experiences force us to realize that we are not in control, we struggle all the more to convince ourselves that we are, like the desperation of a person drowning.

But the solution for drowning is the same as the solution for fear and worry. If only the drowning person would take a big, deep breath and lay back, that person would experience God’s support.  Floating in the water is a wonderful and restful experience. Honesty about what our life depends on (God’s choices and provision for us) experienced in every heartbeat and breath and more profoundly in His Word and sacraments brings divine rest as the Spirit/breath of God fills us and His living water lifts us up.

Maturing as a child of God sees the process of aging (or passing away, no matter what age) as a time of increasing relief as we relinquish control to the beloved family and friends through whom God supports us.  This relief comes by giving them full knowledge of our estate, by giving over the managing of our affairs, by letting them care for us as the actual and constant care of God for us through the end of the valley of the shadow of death into life eternal and infinite.

Sharing this perspective and the inspired Word of God with those in our care can help them find relief instead of desperation (like the feeling of support and strength from a lifeguard holding and swimming us to shore). Practicing such awareness ourselves brings relief and joy no matter what stage of life we are in.

God bless us in His divine restfulness.

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