Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: YOUTH (04/04/19)
TITLE: Called To Care
By Linda Lawrence
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Boys my age weren’t serious enough for me. I dated a youth leader in his twenties during my junior and senior year of high school. He patiently waited for me to grow up. He loved his extended family and they welcomed me. In time though I realized he needed to be surrounded by people. Young as I was, I knew I would come to resent his desire for so much oneness with me—and with his relatives. I would not be able to make him happy if I was miserable, craving solitude. We tearfully ended the relationship because he longed for a wife.
A handsome, dedicated, shy missionary started attending our church. I was intrigued by him and by the concept of broadcasting the gospel to Latin America by short-wave radio. Carl was the station manager. Hoping to attract his attention, I volunteered at the station. It was then I discovered the bachelor lifestyle of a missionary.
I romanticized about making a home for the 29-year-old workaholic with ulcers, sleeping on the floor of the recording studio, and living on powdered protein drinks. He obviously gave no thought to taking care of his needs. He was a loner like me but dedicated to serving God. In my youthful zeal, I hoped to keep him alive to do just that. I felt called to care for him so he could do God’s calling. That would be my service to the Lord.
What did I know of taking care of someone else? My parents were taking care of me. But when he was called to the Philippines, he asked me to go with him—and that’s how, at eighteen, I became Mrs. Carl Lawrence.
Carl had his own story of being called as a youth. It happened when he was around twelve. His father borrowed a pickup and drove him and his six brothers and sisters from Montana to North Dakota to meet their grandmother for the first and only time. Carl remembered her being in a big bed with a large Bible lying on the quilt. The children lined up one by one to introduce themselves and then leave the room. When it was Carl’s turn she did something that none of the other children remember experiencing. She put her hand on his head and dedicated him to the Lord’s service. He had no idea what that meant but for years afterward he could feel her gnarled hand on his head. When he was in the Navy, he couldn’t enjoy shore leave with his buddies, he said, because his grandmother’s hand held him back. He didn’t hear the Lord yet, but that hand kept him out of a lot of trouble. He was twenty-seven before he heard the Lord call his name.
When a grandfather, himself, laying his hands on his grandson’s heads and dedicating them to the Lord was one of his passions. He wanted to pass on the protection and blessing he had been given in his youth.
In reality, it was the Lord who took care of both of us. He gave me many opportunities to make a home for Carl during our frequent reassignments. Carl was never a healthy man, but that didn’t hold him back. Ironically, my biggest complaint about our marriage was his independence from me and our lack of oneness. However, he always expressed appreciation for a home prepared for him.
During the last five years of his life, as his body and memory faded, he literally needed me as a full-time caregiver. I often looked back at the youthful, romanticized ideas I had about caring for my husband and reminded myself: You dare not complain. You volunteered for this job. Believe me, caregiving was not my passion. But it was my privilege.
Carl lived to be eighty-three! I did my part to keep him alive to grow old. And he did his best to serve the Lord.
Sometimes I wondered how I could possibly fulfill the responsibility and calling God had given me. But God never intended for us to be independent of Him. He was the one who enabled us to fulfill the call He gave us in our youth to serve Him and each other.
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