My dear one is over a thousand miles from me and undergoing tests to rule out causes for his word recall malfunctions. The irony is, while he is progressively finding himself at a loss for words; I am daily looking for words, too, but my search is bound only by my carelessness. His haphazard success may be caused by dementia. He is the primary writer who inspired me to write.
I’ve thought about this question. Which is worse, spiritual, or physical dementia? Which is worse, physical progressive deterioration, or spiritual progressive deterioration? I guess the answer to this question depends on if you believe in life after death. In my dear one’s case, I am certain that even if his path ahead is marked by mental losses, his spiritual course is already in motion, and will become even brighter as the days advance. In the end, he will only need to have known one word, “Jesus.”
Why can I say this?
My dear one is a believer in God. Years ago, and fully cognizant, he made a choice to believe in God and Jesus. He believes Jesus is more than just a good man, or prophet. My dear one believes the message about Jesus contained in the Bible—how Jesus came to die for all men—men whose spiritual eternity was in jeopardy because of sin. Because my dear one believes this, even if his brain or physical being fails him, his hope lives on. The hope of assured placement in heaven—the good side of eternal life that follows human life. My dear one has spent his life, albeit flawed, in pursuit of the one who knows him best, His Creator, God. In the end, every sin that could be counted against my dear one, will be dismissed because he believed in God’s plan of reconciliation—Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Yesterday’s paper brought news of Brigette Bardot’s ex-husband, 78 year old photographer, Gunter Sachs, who killed himself because he concluded he was suffering from an incurable degenerative disease affecting his memory and ability to communicate. His suicide note implied that this physical condition was the one big challenge he could not combat. His reaction to such depressing news is not unusual. We all feel desperate when we are told that our physical life’s toolbox is about to be emptied. Nevertheless, from everything we know in the Bible, God’s perspective suggests there is a greater malady—spiritual dementia.
How can we avoid spiritual dementia? Read the Bible, while you can. Know the Bible, while you can. Turn to God as your Savior, Redeemer, and Guide, while you still can. While you are still able, find a place where others routinely share this faith with you. Join them to offer collective praise to God, and encourage each other in spiritual development. By the way, such a place is often called, “church.”
Live praising, as King David, our Bible Psalmist did, “because God’s loving-kindness is better than life.”
Live hard. In Psalm 63, David describes his Olympic spiritual training. “My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You; Your right hand upholds me.” The Hebrew word for “closely” is like the idea of being “glued” or cleaving—stuck to another.
King David agrees. Being in right relationship to God is better than life. In addition, if this God-man relationship is pursued in a way that maximizes earthly benefit, it requires a “stick-to-it” quality that is like strong glue, or marital bonding.
“The path of the Godly man is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” Proverbs 4:18
Dementia. If the spirit has tracked with God, the light will shine on until it is fully day. Such a light will obliterate the night.
I say this to you, and all who struggle….. Shine on, dear one, shine on.