Hers was a slow death—about ten years to be exact.
Alzheimer’s attacked my maternal grandmother long before she took her final breath, but it signaled the beginning of the end. At first, she was just forgetful. We assumed it was the effects of age. Then it became more pronounced. By the time it ran its course, she no longer remembered her family’s names, couldn’t drive, and couldn’t stay by herself.
In the final stages, even her children couldn’t care for her and had to place her in an assisted living facility. But the shock of being away from home took its toll. Congestive heart failure set in, and she was placed in the hospital. After leaving for a bite to eat and returning, my parents were greeted by a nurse whose eyes told the story. She was gone.
As he led his sheep from pasture to pasture, David walked through valleys littered with predators and robbers. But he didn’t fear them or the fact they might take his life. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4 KJV).
Death is a normal part of life. We can’t prevent it; at the most, we can only prolong it. I feared it as a youngster, defied it as a teenager, and pondered it at midlife. I now accept its inevitability. While I don’t welcome it, I do what follows.
Only life lived in a faith connection with God prepares us for death and eternity and helps us enjoy living without fear in the present. When our last breath is taken—whether by tragedy, a criminal act, a deadly disease, or by simply closing our eyes—God takes the hand of his children and ushers them into his beautiful eternity.
Are you ready for the valley of death?
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Martin Wiles is an author, pastor, English teacher, and freelance editor who resides in Greenwood, South Carolina. He is the founder and editor of the internationally recognized website, Love Lines from God (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). Wiles is the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions, the Senior Editor for Inspire a Fire, a Proof Editor for Courier Publishing, and Assistant Editor for Vinewords.net. He has also served as Web Content Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolina. Wiles has authored Don’t Just Live…Really Live (Ambassador International), A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Noisy World (Ambassador International), Grits & Grace & God and Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), Morning By Morning, Morning Serenity, and Grace Greater Than Sin (America Star Books) and is a contributing author in Penned from the Heart (Son-Rise Publications), Rise (Chaplain Publishing), and Love Knots (Vine-Word Publishing). He has served as Regional Correspondent and Sunday school lesson writer for the Baptist Courier and has also written for Lifeway’s Bible Studies for Life curriculum. He has also been published in Christian Living in the Mature Years, Mature Living, Parenting Teens, Open Windows, Proclaim, Stand Firm, The Secret Place, The Word in Season, The Upper Room, The Upper Room Disciplines, Light from the Word, Reach Out Columbia, Mustard Seed Ministries, Journey Christian Newspaper, Common Ground Herald, The Quiet Hour, Power for Living, Halo Magazine, Joyful Living Magazine, Christian Broadcasting Network, Converge, Sharing, Today’s Christian Living, These Days, Plum Tree Tavern, Eskimo Pie, The Scarlet Leaf Review, Creation Illustrated, LIVE, Purpose Magazine, The Banner, Relevant, Bible Advocate, Reasons to Live, Author Magazine, and Lutheran Digest. Wiles has also written for the Bridges and Pathways Curriculum (Warner Press) and is a regular contributor to Christian Devotions, PCC Daily Devotions, Theology Mix, Inspire a Fire, The Write Conversation, Inkspirations, and VineWords and is a regular writer for the Dorchester County Eagle Record, the Orangeburg County Times and Democrat, and the Greenwood County Index Journal. Wiles has also served on faculty for the Asheville Christian Writer’s Conference. crat, and the Greenwood County Index Journal. Wiles also serves as the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions , the Senior Editor for Inspire a Fire, and as a Proof Editor for Courier Publishing. You can follow him @linesfromgod.