Monday, January 13, 2014

Do you suffer from Spiritual Alzheimer's disease?

Alzheimer's....a terrible, debilitating disease that robs people of a clear train of thought, their memory and ultimately destroys their life. There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease and no one seems to know what causes it. Many live in fear that they will one day suffer from this horrible physical malady but many of us suffer from a similar condition without any regard for what it steals from us...spiritual Alzheimer's.

My mother in law died of complications caused by Alzheimer’s in 2011. As the disease progressed her brilliant mind began to disappear into the relentless dark fog from which it would not emerge in this life. We watched sadly as day by day, she died a little more. First she would forget simple little things like turning off the stove and then it became worse...she would forget where she was going when she was driving and would often end up far away from home. Many times I would get a call while at work with her tearful voice on the other end of the phone saying "I don't know where I am. I don't know how to get home." I would gently calm her with kind words and help her know how to return back home. The disease progressed and soon she was unable to live at home. It was too dangerous for her to live alone. We found a good assisted living home and moved her in. She was content there for a while but then it got worse. About a year later we moved her into a care center for patients with Dementia and the slippery slope continued...Sometimes, when she seemed restless, one of us would start singing a hymn, and she would smile. She could remember the words if there was someone to sing with her. Another year passed by and we found ourselves surrounding her bedside saying our last goodbyes.

I was thinking about that today when I studied the book of Peter.  In chapter 1, verse 12 Peter wrote “Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them ….”  Why did they need to be reminded of something deeply ingrained in their thinking? The answer is intriguing and also strategic to the Christian’s daily life.

Countless times in Scripture, God tells His people to “remember.” He commands us, “Do not forget.” Does this refer to physical memory lapses such as forgetting a doctor's appointment? No, such a lapse in memory is usually about our relationship with our Creator. God is telling us not to forget Him, to remember what He has done for us, to remember the foundations and promises of the Gospel. How can we forget God? How can we fail to remember His magnificent grace?

Alzheimer’s is an attack upon the brain that takes place within our own bodies. In some strange way, the nerves that carry important signals to our brains somehow short circuit and don't function properly any longer. In the same way, we naturally possess a natural tendency toward sin and an apathy toward God. Spiritual Alzheimer's attacks our thoughts and memory of God. I am apt to forget the past and present mercies God has provided in my life. Instead, I often selfishly complain in about some pain or turmoil in my life. I am apt to forget His holiness and my unworthiness and think that God is obligated to me, that He owes me goodness. I am apt to forget His omniscience and wisdom while elevating myself to the position of  His advisor.  I am apt to forget my total dependence upon Him.

Do you suffer from spiritual Alzheimer's? Do you ever forget who you are and where you've come from? Do you ever forget all the things God has done in your life over the years? Do you forget His hand of protection...His grace and mercy? Make a point to take time to remember. Never forget that you are His precious child. He loves you and wants to bless you! Don't be a victim of spiritual Alzheimer's!  Take time to remember events in your life where He's guided you, provided for you, protected you....and remember to be thankful. Spiritual Alzheimer's has a cure...we can choose to remember. It may even help to jot down a time line of your life and circle events where you remember God worked, especially those times you called out to Him in prayer and He answered in a mighty way. Take time to remember and count your blessings daily then you won't be a victim of the debilitating disease of spiritual Alzheimer's.

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