August 2010 was a time when I had far more questions than answers. I was 65—retirement age—but still had no definite retirement plans for the time in the future when I would no longer be capable of working. My husband Dennis and I were living in Canada, and the rest of our extended family—except for our two adult children—lived in the U.S.
Dennis was severely handicapped from a major stroke in November 2004 that robbed him of his ability to read, write, speak, and use his right hand. He walked slowly with a cane. It also affected his reasoning ability.
For nearly three years I tried to care for Dennis at home while I was working at the office of a mission organization. I juggled my time in various ways and sent him to day programs some days to give him structured activity in a safe environment.
However, at home he had gotten into extremely dangerous situations that were a threat to himself and others—like driving the car on three occasions when he no longer had the ability to drive, attempting to take a large sum of money out of our line of credit in the bank, doing “repairs” using power tools, and climbing a ladder when he was partially paralyzed. Caring for him at home just wasn’t working, so by 2009 he was living in a personal care home during the week while I worked.
Now I was wondering. . . just what happens next? How will I have money to afford to live in the future since the personal care home is expensive? Could I care for him at home again if I were to retire?
These things weighed heavily on my mind when I decided to visit friends, Barry and Linda, who had built a retreat centre for missionaries and others to get away to pray, meditate, and seek the Lord—and to enjoy nature. Located on 100 acres of wooded land toward the mountains, their retreat center was a two-hour drive from Calgary, where I lived. Overlooking a wooded area and a rushing river, their house had two extra guest bedrooms and there were other facilities for guests in this peaceful rural environment.
So for two days in August 2010, I spent time at their retreat center, seeking answers to my many questions. While there, I spent time reading Prayer—Does It Make a Difference? by Philip Yancey,Living Light (a devotional book), my Bible, and some other publications. I also prayed for the Lord to make the path ahead clear to me.
While I was reading the devotional book, I came across the verse from Isaiah 49:15 a, 16b: “ . . . I will not forget you. Behold, I have graven you on the palms of my hands.” I thought about it along with some other meaningful verses, and copied them into my notebook. Then when I was reading Philip Yancey’s book later that morning, I encountered the SAME verse. It’s not a frequently quoted verse, so I don’t normally encounter it on a regular basis, certainly not twice in one day.
Then my friend Barry gave me a booklet he thought I might like to read, and the SAME verse--Isaiah 49:15 a, 16 b-- was on the cover! When I turned to an article inside, the entire article was based on Isaiah 49:15a-16 b. In all during those two days, I encountered that verse SIX times! The Lord was telling me He has not forgotten me and the situation I am in. And I was comforted by the thought, because sometimes the journey I am on feels so lonely.
So did I find answers to my questions? No. But the Lord let me know in the most amazing way that He hasn’t forgotten me. And for now, that is more than enough.
The mother of two adult children, Janet Seever lives with her husband in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she edits Prayer Alive magazine, a publication of Wycliffe Canada. Her articles and stories have appeared on Internet and in various publications, including the books Celebrating the Season, Expressions of Gratitude, Opening the Gifts of Christmas, and Grace Givers.