As I reflect on 2012, I realized that it was the toughest year of my life, yet in the midst of tremendous adversity, there was tremendous grace. My elderly mother-in-law who had been living in our home the past fifteen months passed away in February, right after losing one of my favorite dogs.
September brought three more deaths, with one being my lifetime best friend from high school and college. Two weeks later my father became very ill, and was gone in four days. I didn’t realize at the moment, but my mom was in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, and now requires around the clock care, so we moved her into the guest room in our home. This was pretty painful for my wife, because of coming so quickly after losing her mother.
Then there is the daunting task of managing their estate and preparing their home for going on the market, while 650 miles away. I realize I’m no different than anyone else, and my problems aren’t anymore challenging than others, but as I look back, I realize how much that took out of me. Our small church we founded and led over the previous twelve years, went through a merger, that initially was embraced, but became a little rocky for a few weeks, however things ended up wonderfully. The emotional requirement of handling all of these events began to take its toll. My health began to suffer, and I realized my immune system was simply worn out. I battled about virtually every illness that came my way for weeks on end.
So, as I reflect on 2012, I’m relieved that it has now passed into history, and a new year has begun. I know it will be filled with its own set of challenges, but The Lord promised me I could bring it all to him, and lay it at his feet. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV) His faithfulness is steadfast, his love is forever and his power gives me all I need to get through another year. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised. He really is the lifter of my head! I’ve relearned that perseverance is simply trusting God one day at a time, one issue at a time and trusting God to be faithful again for another day. His mercies are new every morning.
All of us experince “life” in every form it comes in, and it is wonderful having a chaplain to lean on and to walk through it with you! Thank you to my incredible team of chaplains for the love, and living out with me what you do everyday for thousands of others. Jon Cook, my friend and my partner was and is simply as stellar as they come. Thank you!