My mom died in September after a long struggle with several forms of Dementia. For the past five years, she and my dad lived in an apartment attached to our house, so our entire family had the privilege of traveling through this journey together. In the early stages, mom was a part of daily family activities like setting the table and assisting with simple meal preparation tasks, and she enjoyed times with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Even as the disease progressed to the point where she did not know who they were, she loved being around the children. One of our precious memories is the day mom somehow climbed the ladder into the children’s playhouse. As the adults were trying to figure out how to get her down, mom solved the problem and came giggling down the slide. Toward the end of her life, mom’s brain seemed to lose the ability to communicate with her body. She became unaware of her surroundings and I do not think she knew who I was…..but the more helpless she became, the more I saw the image of God stamped all over her. Her value had nothing to do with her credentials or what she could do – it had everything to do with her Creator.
My journey with mom reminded me that people are watching and they notice the way we treat the helpless, whether it is an elderly parent or a preborn baby whose mother is so overwhelmed by her situation that she is considering abortion as her only solution. As we live out the golden rule – treating others the way that we would want to be treated, our actions become an aroma of God to those around us. (2 Cor. 2: 14) During a meeting with a representative from a caregiving agency we were working with, I was told, “We (the staff) have been discussing your mom’s case, and we have determined that you are a family of great faith.” Having had minimal contact with this group, I wondered what this conclusion was based on. Apparently, in our current culture, our family’s support of mom and each other was somewhat unusual, and those observing us had detected the fragrance of God. I see this happen routinely at Care Net as our clients will ask questions like, “What makes you ladies so different?” As we listen to their life stories with non-judgmental compassion and offer them practical help, they “smell” a pleasant aroma and it often leads to opportunities to share the good news of the God’s love for them.
I am convinced that living out our pro-life belief blesses God. Jesus said that when we serve the least of these, we are serving Him. (Matthew 25:40). What a concept – we can do something to give back to God – we can bless God who has done so much for us! Clearly, there is a cost involved in terms of comfort, time, and so much more. But there is nothing that compares to the sense of God’s good pleasure as we are in involved in making a difference…for Life.