Do you recognize the two men in this picture? They were both very popular actors in their day. Both were president of The Screen Actors Guild in Hollywood. Both were Democrats in their early years but then both became Republicans in their older, wiser days.
The man on the left is Charlton Heston, best known for his role as Moses in the movie The Ten Commandments. The man on the right is Ronald Reagan, best known for his role as the 40th president of these United States. Both men were strong leaders, both men were strong Christians, and both men died from Alzheimer's Disease - a disease that robs men and women of their memories and eventually leads to death. Truly a very nasty disease.
I was home, sick, this past week and watching some television shows I had recorded - specifically Wretched on the NRB Network. Wretched is kind of an in-your-face show, mixing a bit of sarcasm with conservative Christian theology. It can be a little "out there" but I like it. Most shows deal with current events, controversial teachings and evangelism but this particular show was different. It was very . . . touching.
The shows host, Todd Friel, discussed Christian music and then did a spot on Alzheimer's Disease, specifically the case of Glen Campbell who was diagnosed with the disease in 2011. Glen Campbell has sold over 45 million records in his 50-year career and even dabbled with some acting in the movie True Grit with John Wayne. But these days Glen Campbell doesn't do much. He quit touring. He stopped living his life, or should I say Alzheimer's stopped it. But he did record this video which speaks to his career and to the disease which ended it.
These Days by Glenn Campbell
Death is the inevitable outcome of Alzheimer's and I guess it struck home for me as I watched it. I began to think of those in my life who have the disease, specifically my father. He told us he had the disease several years ago when we were at our family farm. It didn't really hit home then because I didn't really know much about it and we couldn't see any signs of it in my father. But eventually things became noticeable . . . and the disease became all to real.
I remember one day when I was at our home in the Milwaukee area. I was helping to get my parents house ready for sale so they could move to Michigan, nearer to my sister who is a nurse. Everyone has defining moments in their lives and for me it was that day, the day my dad couldn't remember my name and referred to me as "the man in the basement." That was tough. What a devastating disease Alzheimer's is.
Shortly after watching that Glen Campbell video, and after wrestling with the topic of death and Alzheimer's, my wife called to me from our sun room.
"A precious baby!!" Oh, come see! It's just been born!"
A mother deer had just given birth to a wobbly-legged fawn, right in our backyard! How wonderfully glorious is our God! I had been watching a show about death and dying, then God provided his blessed reassurance through a new creation. He gives and takes away (Job 1:21). His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23)
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” - Job 1:21
The wretched TV show ended with the following song. It is a reminder that, for the Christian, death is not an ending, it is a beginning. And so I smile on this day because whether today bring happiness or sorrow, I will praise Him. Blessed be the name of the Lord!
Not Death to Die by Sovereign Grace