John 15:13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Today, I completed another round of cognitive testing. I started full of confidence and left in tears of heartache. I can’t understand how one moment I can copy a complex picture of shapes and the next be totally unable to reproduce it from memory. As I stared at the paper with my pencil in hand, my mind was utterly blank. My eyes welled up with tears as I tried to scratch something that would trigger a memory but none came. I left the room in frustration gasping for breath. I leaned my head against the wall wanting to run away. I am so tired of the broken reflection of me that I am faced with on a daily basis. So painful. So horribly painful.
When I returned to the room, the woman testing me listed off 12 simple everyday words. She talked too fast and as soon as she said a word, the previous one slipped from my memory. When she asked me to list them off I stumbled and stammered remembering only a hand full. Again the broken reflection of who I am overcame me. As she wrote some notes I wondered “Who am I?” Nancy of old would have easily completed the tasks I now struggle with. But Nancy of old is just a memory. Like a dream, glimmers of her surface from time to time but then as quickly as those glimmers come they disappear in this new reality full of sadness and hopes deferred. So painful. So horribly painful.
On days like today the pain runs so deep. On days like today, darkness looms ready to devour and consume. On days like today, hope dwindles, peace is replaced by restlessness and sadness steals joy at every turn.
That is until I remember Jesus.
Tonight, through the tears my mind went to Jesus on the cross. Beaten, suffering beyond my imagination and close to death Jesus chose love and forgave the thief on the cross who reached out and chose to believe in him.
Luke 23:32-43 32 Two others, both criminals, were led out to be executed with him. 33 When they came to a place called The Skull,they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. 35 The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. 37 They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 A sign was fastened above him with these words: “This is the King of the Jews.” 39 One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” 40 But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? 41 We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” 43 And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Jesus’ love has never failed. His love compelled him to go to the cross for us to pay the price so we might know him. While on the cross his love compelled him to forgive a thief who had not even chosen him until the very end. His love astounds me. It humbles me. It cuts through the darkness of these days bringing his love, light and hope. His love is the answer to all my heartache and fills me with endless, tangible joy.
On days like today discouragement comes calling and hopelessness beckons to be my friend. Because of Jesus’ love though, I am drawn away from those pitfalls and snares safe into trust, hope and enduring love.
The reflections of me are broken for sure. The reflections of Jesus shining through broken me however, calls out to those who do not yet know him that there is no greater love than his!
May we all grow in his love and through it know the joy, hope and peace of the King of king!