Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

August 03, 2004


Eden, as I imagine it, was a very spacious place. Adam and Eve had complete safety, if only they'd kept on trusting God. Not that there were no limits at all, of course. Only God is limitless. But even the limits were for their ultimate safety and good. God set the limits, and they were good.

But when they trusted Satan instead of God in regard to these limits, they fell from grace. They fell from a nearly limitless freedom in intimate relationship with their Father-God, to an existence of narrowness, labor, and the shadow of death. From the broad place, to the narrow place. From freedom to the slavery of the flesh, and the yoke of mortality.

I know a lady--Let's call her Eleanor--an eighty year old woman, who lives in a tiny apartment with all the accumulated belongings of her long life crowded into that one room. And she often mislays things. An old photograph, batteries, a blouse. Well, Eleanor is convinced that her neighbor across the hall possesses a key to her apartment and is sneaking in and stealing these things. Everyone tells her it's not so, but Eleanor is certain. The building superintendent, the local police, everyone has had a go at convincing her that she's just misplacing these objects. But it's no use.

Think about poor Eleanor for a moment. She's in a tight place. She wants desperately to be believed. She wants desperately to be considered "in her right mind." And she's terribly hurt that her own children don't believe her. Instead, they trust the other woman, rather than their own mother. It seems to her an act of disloyalty.

It's hard for Eleanor--as with all of us--to admit to the usual failings that come with old age. She wants to be considered sharp, even youthful. She doesn't want to die, and she resists admitting to weakness. And so instead she conceives of her neighbor as her enemy, someone who's out to get her. Probably a member of some cult. A stupid woman. An evil woman. She thrusts upon this innocent bystander the explanation for her increasingly common mental lapses.

I don't even know what to pray for Eleanor. I just pray that the Lord will resolve this problem somehow. Old age can seem very much like that fowler's snare, can it not?


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