Sunday, September 17, 2023

Aging Ministry


January 2017 was when it hit that aging had a tight grip on me.  For over a year I had been having chest pains, and was getting out of breath if I walked too fast.  Of course, I was a little overweight, so I assumed that was the cause of all the symptoms I was having.  But to be safe, I went to the doctor who put me through a stress test, and they thought it was my weight also, or possibly asthmas. 

 All the above was in 2016 and then 2017 rolled around and I was schedule to have a knee replacement in Jan.   My husband thought I better get checked out again since my breathing and chest pain were getting worse.  My doctor sent me for another stress test and x-ray. On the way home from the test my doctor called me and told me I needed to have a Heart Cath, that my breathing issues were classic heart blockage.  Open heart surgery took place a week later and aging took on a deeper meaning for me. I was now known as a older women with two bypasses.   Eleven months later I had that dreaded knee surgery.  In between I started to have UTI's which happens often to the elderly. Oh, the journey of aging. 

Thats all for the health issues for now, there would be more to come.  I have reached the ripe old age of 76 with two bouts of Covid under my belt, both put me in the hospital, first one almost destroyed my kidneys and the second almost took my life.   In the past three years the UTI have been like a nasty relative visiting without being invited. 

I love the little cartoon at the top for it speaks my heart. I really don't want to be a sweet old lady, but I do want to be busy ageless sweet woman of God who has mellowed and become gracious and wiser with age.   

 Here is the thing, 77 comes after 76, and after 77 comes 78, and 79, and then...oh my goodness, 80. For the life of me I cannot see me as an 80-year-old sweet or grouchy woman.  I am trying not to worry about even making it to 80.

Next week I have an appointment with a vascular surgeon, to talk about blockage in my renal arteries leading from the heart to kidneys.  Thats been my life since 2017, doctors, nurses, tests, medicine, therapy, and healthier food and lots of water.  

Before 70 I had a different life which centered around our ministry meeting up with other missionaries, traveling all over the place.  It feels like I have lost my place, but I work hard to not lean on my feelings and be content with the life I have now.  

My new ministry is how many times can I mention Jesus as the doctor's work on me and the nurses take care of me.  Each stay in the hospital brings ministry up real close.  I have my bible out most of the time. If I miss speaking His name, the first time the doctor or nurse or technician to take blood I will make sure the next time they come into my room they know this sweet old woman is a child of God.  

Actually, it's kind of fun to see how they will re-act.  Not one has kicked me out of the hospital for speaking the name of Jesus.  In fact, when they find out I have lived in two other countries they start asking what I was doing.  Now, they are on my territory. It's like God says, ok, it's time to let the Spirit take over.  It's time to  share the why you left a great country, family and friends to tell people living remotely all over the world that Jesus loves them and died for them so they could go to heaven when they die.  It's a simple story, easy to tell, age has nothing to do with the telling of it. The hospital has become my mission field, that doctors' office, that person trying to get my frail blood vessel to stop rolling so they can get an IV in me. That person who brings me meals, cleans my room while I lay thanking God for His love to me, is gonna remember, me.  

I believe with all my heart God does not want us to waste anything that comes into our life, even our suffering.    It's all a tool to plant a seed, water it and maybe see the harvest of that seed.  I trust the Lord to take me to heaven when He is ready, so I have no fear of dying.  

When I keep the pain to myself, and pretend everything is perfect, I waste opportunities to minister to others walking a similar path. 

                     How has God encouraged you lately?