I am standing in a blazing furnace and I’m not quite sure how I got here. It didn’t happen overnight, more like a frog dropped in a pot of tepid water that’s now boiling over. I’ve read about these kinds of furnaces, about people who’ve soldiered through and survived. But when you look around and realize this is happening to you, it’s hard not to look at the flames. Or smell the smoke. Or wonder how many parts of you will be singed before you get out. You wonder about a lot of things, mostly how long you’ll be here. But that can send your mind into a tailspin. A watched pot never boils. Except you’ve been boiling over for a few weeks now.
You know it’s just a season. And you know that Providence has His hand on you, His arms wrapped around you, otherwise you’d be engulfed in the flames and someone would be putting flowers on your grave. Sounds dramatic, but this is my life. My life as a caregiver. I wish that the Alzheimer’s would burn up in the furnace. That it would melt away from my Father like wax and that he would somehow emerge from this 15-year ordeal a whole person. But the Alzheimer’s isn’t in the fire. It is the fire.
I wish I could borrow George Jetson’s Rosie so she could wait on my Father hand and foot. She could wake up in the middle of the night to set up the bedside commode for him. She could help him groggily walk over and sit down. And she could be the one to tell him he is exactly where he needs to be to use the restroom. She could hoist him back in bed and his grumpiness wouldn’t faze her. But there is no Rosie. There’s only me.
Sometimes I feel like a whirling dervish spinning round and round, not able to focus on one thing because too many cry for my attention. Balance is key. And yet I lose mine all the time and crash into people around me. I wonder if I should just wear a sign that says “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry for snapping at you. I’m sorry for not calling you back. I’m sorry for paying that bill late. I’m sorry for being short-tempered and accusing you of wrongdoing. I’m sorry for letting that slide. I’m sorry for not staying on top of things. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
And I am. Only I don’t see myself doing any better until I can get out of the furnace. Maybe that’s what’s burning up in the fire, mindsets I’ve held onto for years that are based on lies. That I have to strive to be perfect and if I make a mistake God will zap me like a bug on a windshield. Maybe what’s burning up in the fire is the ugly stuff that’s layered down deep inside of me. Maybe instead of my frog legs being boiled, what’s really happening is that God is purifying me and getting rid of the dross. And that can only happen in a blazing furnace. It hurts like hell. And it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. But rather than wish I could escape the furnace, I wish I would just learn the lesson intended for me so I can graduate.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego graduated. I wonder how long they were in the furnace before the king told them to come out. And I have an idea that when he called them, they didn’t want to come out. Because they were in the presence of one like “the son of God”, walking around and talking with them. A furnace so hot that it killed the soldiers who threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego inside. And yet nothing burned. Their robes, trousers and turbans didn’t even smell like smoke. They were lauded for their bravery and promoted after this harrowing ordeal.
Does my Father have to die before I’m promoted out of this furnace?
Just give me Jesus.
I don’t want to smell like smoke or focus on the flames. I don’t want to count the days, the years of this journey. I just want to walk around the furnace with the Son of God, listening to whatever He wants to say to me, knowing that no matter what happens, as long as He is there, I’m ok.
Just give me Jesus.