Take Up & Read:
And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
I read these words and weep.
My father is dying. Dementia has taken hold of his once brilliant mind and left him unable to walk and nearly unable to speak. I consider this with a little bitterness. It’s been nearly two years since he’s slipped from most cognizant conversation. Before that, he was an accomplished businessman and he made a living offering financial guidance to people.
I don’t have a business brain. When I was in college, I traded laundry services with an accounting major so that he would balance my checkbook. My father was endlessly frustrated by the glazed expression in my eyes whenever he tried to share nuggets of business wisdom. The reality is that I really didn’t need the nuggets. I was married woman, a stay at home mom, the wife of a person happy to handle our finances.
All that changed two years ago, eerily coincidentally with my father’s decline. I found myself a small business owner, trying to learn all sorts of crucial financial skills in order to keep writing and publishing. It is an irony that after nearly five decades of trying to give me business advice, I need it now, and he can barely speak.
A couple months ago, troubled by all sorts of business conundrums, I went to visit him. I sat on one side of his wheelchair and my stepmother sat on the other. I told him the long story of the past few challenging months in my work world. I fought tears as I poured out frustration and disappointment and bewilderment. I didn’t even know if he was awake.
He tried to lift his drooping head to upright. He pulled in a bigger breath than normal. He said, “Elizabeth, don’t forget…”
And then he fell asleep.
What did he want to tell me? What morsel of business wisdom did he have for me after all these years of my stubborn disinterest? And why, oh why, did I wait until it was too late? I need his advice and he would have been so overjoyed to have shared in my new venture.
My sister and I have a rhythm in this new season of our lives. I go to see our dad, and then I call her on the way home and update her on his health, giving her a snapshot of his condition. But this time I didn’t. I couldn’t. I was heartbroken and I knew she’d be heartbroken, and I just had no strength to shoulder her sorrow, too. So, I put off that phone call.
I put it off for several weeks.
Finally, she called me. Reluctantly, I told her the story, not wanting her to feel the sting of words we knew he wanted to say but couldn’t. To my surprise she said, “I know exactly what he wanted to say.”
“Yes, and it had absolutely nothing to do with business or financial advice or anything remotely related. He wanted to tell you the same thing he told you every night when he tucked you in, at the end of every letter, and just before goodbye in every phone call. Here, I’ll fill in the gaps with you.
“Elizabeth, don’t forget. Who loves you?” My sister said the words we both knew so well. How in the world, in that moment with him, did I not recognize where he was going?
“You do, daddy,” I wept, cueing the next words.
“That’s right. And who else?”
“That’s right. I love you and so does God. Now go out and do life.”
Love remains. Love is with us always, until the end of the age. Knowing that, we go out and do life, taking Love wherever we go and sharing it abundantly.
This is the heart of the Great Commission, to know we are loved by Love himself and to go out and live that love.