For: The Essentials In Spiritual Formation Worship Course with Dan Wilt
Six months ago, my mother-in-law Bonnie fell and broke her hip. After hip replacement surgery and a stint in a rehab hospital, she was 2 weeks from being strong enough to come home again with my father-in-law. That plan was derailed when she contracted aspirated pneumonia (a complication often associated with Parkinson's, which she has), and a 3 week hospital stay virtually erased all of the progress she had physically made since surgery.
With benefits running out and her strong desire to return home, we arranged for caregivers to come assist with her care and brought her home (to her house) 2 weeks ago. We did not fully anticipate the amount of time and restructuring of our home life this has required.
To complicate matters, my father-in-law Dick had to be hospitalized most of last week, requiring one of her children (by birth or by love) to be present 24/7. He got to return home last Friday. But today, after going for a routine visit, he was told they were going to keep him a couple of days.
And so, unexpectedly, I find myself spending the night tonight in their home with time to blog and reflect on the importance of spiritual formation.
What does all this have to do with spiritual formation? Well, about 9 months ago, I felt strongly impressed that I needed to start getting up much earlier than was my custom. Having tried and failed before, this time I wrote it on my calendar. Mysteriously, that is what it took to get me to wake up early.
This early time was for spending alone time with Him and for getting in a work out. The one sounds spiritual, the other not so much, but both have come into play these last 2 weeks.
In those early morning hours, I meditated on Scripture, journaled, read excerpts of writings by C.S. Lewis, Brennan Manning, Henri J. M. Nouwen, Gregory of Nyssa, Richard Rolle, Teresa of Avila, Ignatius of Loyola, Madame Guyon, Dag Hammarskjold...my soul was fed on the richest of fares. And I was strengthened.
Then I would typically go for a 4+ mile walk or to the Y to work out - some sort of cardio and some weights. I signed up for a session with a personal trainer and put a plan in place. And I was strengthened.
I find myself today needing to remember that the Lord has prepared me for this intense season that is requiring so much physical and spiritual/emotional strength ~ where there is no "plan." Where my day, my week, my month is, out of necessity, dependent upon the needs of my in-laws and I must draw from the strong center the Lord built within me these past 9 months.
See, the Lord is not surprised by the things that surprised me today, yesterday, 2 weeks ago. He has been preparing me for this moment, preparing me and my family to serve in this way for at least the last 9 months...almost certainly longer.
Now, my mother-in-law is one of the sweetest, kindest, gentlest people I know. She does not complain. She is grateful and thankful. She is humble. It is an honor to serve her in this way. But, to be honest, it's not how we planned to spend July. It took us by surprise.
But since the Lord has been strengthening the core of my being through physical and spiritual exercise, as the need has arisen, so has the joy and the energy to sustain the change in direction of this portion of our lives.
I am tired and it's now closer to 1 a.m. than midnight. I will need to wake in just a few hours to start the day with Bonnie, but because of the Lord's great love, I will start the day knowing that God has my back, that His strength is at my core, that His power is made perfect in weakness, and that in His presence I have no lack.
He has given me everything I need.