One of the primary things I struggle with since my diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is purpose. It is incredibly tough to see others trying to run the programs and ministries that I spent my lifetime putting together. I thank God for lining up people to “step up to the plate” so to speak, I praise Him that I have been able to “pass the baton” so successfully; nonetheless, as my computer skills and communication and memory all continue to slip, it would appear, for all practical purposes, that my entire purpose in life is also slipping away, leaving me with nothing to fill the long hours of each day.
Some people say that “time flies”. Let me be the first to inform you that for someone with Alzheimer’s — or dementia of any kind! — time doesn’t fly. In fact, I often have to check to ensure that the clock hasn’t stopped. And it doesn’t help that the dementia has also taken away any ambition I might have. What is, perhaps, the hardest thing, however, is that I am forced to sit back and watch how others, whose plates were already full, now have to work long hours into the night to do their own work and mine as well. Meanwhile, I am bored to tears with nothing to do.
Please understand, I am not complaining; I am just trying to give the backdrop for this devotional.
My wife is constantly trying to alleviate my boredom. Most of the time her efforts are incredibly helpful. Under her direction, I have learned how to bake cookies, keep the tomato and raspberry vines clear of ripe fruit, I have assumed the tasks of opening and closing the house curtains, of bringing in and disinfecting the groceries and other purchases (thank you COVID!), etc. And I am very happy to help out wherever I can. Every purposeful task I am given takes up a few minutes of those long, boring days.
She and I also take long walks together, and when she can make the time, she takes me out hiking. This is perhaps my favourite, for one thing that I can still do is take pictures. Our favourite hiking spots are all long the Bruce Trail. Beginning in Queenston Heights, where the Niagara Falls first began before erosion carried the falls back about 7 miles/11 km to its current location, the Bruce Trial runs along the edge of the Niagara Escarpment all the way to Tobermory — a peninsula of land that forms part of the border of the Georgian Bay off of Lake Huron. The total hiking distance of the Bruce Trail is 560 miles/900 kms; but it can be accessed in numerous spots, and we are blessed to live near several of these. We go out as often as we can, walking poles and camera in hand, to explore this or that section of the Bruce and photograph some of the Niagara Escarpment’s numerous waterfall, valleys and canyons. And this is wonderful, but you can’t hike 24/7; and because my wife has numerous other responsibilities, these moments are too quickly past, leaving me once again without much to do…
Although I am very grateful for her help in alleviating my boredom, I have to admit that none of these things give my life … purpose!
You see, we were all created with a God-given purpose, and fulfilling this purpose is what gives life its meaning: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). The Bible also tells us that our time to die doesn’t come until we no longer have purpose: “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep…” (Acts 13:36 NIV). Well, I’m still here, so that means I still have purpose. In the wake of so much I am no longer able to do, however, just what is my purpose?
One day my wife handed me a three-ringed binder. She had printed out the prayer requests that come through this ministry and placed them in the binder, and she invited me to … pray!
Talk about a game changer!
And then she invited me to co-facilitate a grief recovery group that she leads. When I fussed that I didn’t know anything about grief recovery or about leading small groups, she just smiled. “I don’t want you to talk about grief or lead out in the group. I want you there to … pray!” You see, there are so many hurting people who have lost loved ones, and it is so difficult in the midst of grief to see God’s hand reaching out to bring comfort and strength. So I sit in the circle and I pray for each person.
No, these things don’t fill every minute of every day and as such, they don’t alleviate all of the boredom. But they do one important thing: They restore purpose to my life. My purpose now is to … pray!
Sometimes our God-given purpose may change; nonetheless, we always have one, or we wouldn’t still be here on Earth. If you are feeling like you have no purpose in life, it is time to begin seeking God to reveal that purpose. Whatever it is, it is a vital thing that only you can fulfill; and fulfilling your God-given “reason to be” will give your life the purpose you crave!
And if your life-long purpose appears to have been stolen away, look again! God still has something that only you can do. Keep seeking Him until you find it! And maybe, just maybe, your purpose right now is to … pray. There couldn’t be a more important calling in life.
In His love,
Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries.