The Phoebe Twins

This blog is about the stories of Diane and Dorothy…two women who loved the Lord, served his church, and were adored by their families.  Oh, and in the last few years, neither one of them knew those who loved them most.  Both of these women were called to walk through their own battle with Alzheimer’s.

Diane worshipped here at Beacon; Dorothy was my mother-in-law.  Both loved serving with children.  Holding babies in the nursery, working VBS, Sunday school…they just had servants’ hearts and served Christ and his church for decades.  Even when ministry with children was no longer in the cards they served by encouraging and visiting, often with the lonely and infirmed.  They were reminiscent of Phoebe, whom we know little about, but the apostle Paul says, “a servant in the church at Cenchrea…she has been a great help to many people including me.”
It was my privilege to be able to visit both of them in their final years.  Two things stood out for me!  First was a calm peace along with a faint smile…that said (at least to me) that they were happy to see a visitor.  Looking into their eyes, however, revealed a vacancy that said, “I don’t know you.”  But clearly they were at peace.  The second thing was that when all recognition of family and friends was gone, I asked if they would recite Psalm 23 with me.  In both cases they recited word for word those 6 beautiful verses. I sat there in amazement both times I heard it.  The psalmist said that God’s Word is eternal, and it stands firm in the heavens.  It also stood firm in these two clouded minds and was able to be pulled from the abyss when called for.  I’m sure they had both repeated that Psalm over and over in their years of teaching children and in their own times of reflection before the Lord.

Things like Alzheimer’s puzzle me…why does it happen to beautiful people who love their families and whose families adore them?  Why must the end of life be that confusing and difficult?  In the mind of this Pastor – it raises a lot of questions.

In the end…I do not get a vote about the ways of God.  I’ve learned to accept that, and that in the whole scheme of things it’s just got to be OK because our father in heaven loves us and our families.  His ways are perfect, and he’s always working, even in the hard places.
Both Dorothy and Diane are home with the Lord…maybe they’ve even met…I think they’d be friends.

The Scriptures remind us to “hide God’s Word in our heart” and that his Word “never returns void”.  There are many reasons to hide God’s Word in our hearts…one is that when we can no longer read or even recognize…the Word has a way of remaining.  That is so good.

Alzheimer’s is confusing, sad, and ushers in a strange way to conclude one’s life.  It just doesn’t seem right…but knowing that some of the last words they were able to speak when they did speak were Psalms and hymns reminds me that in the last chapter, God was holding them close, renewing the last fragment of their minds and calming their fears.   And that is good.

Many of you are in the midst of life’s struggles.  Cancer.  Loss.  Financial Burdens.  Family issues.  Memory loss.  Heart problems…I could list stuff for pages…but in it all we look for the King who sits on the throne.  His Word and his ways are eternal and perfect.  Keep hiding his truth in your heart.  It sustains us like nothing else.

Pete Nelson