Gise J. Van Baren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan.

The new electrically controlled hospital bed, on occasion provided some entertainment for Alice also. Little Janis, who adored “Auntie Alice,” each morning would eagerly await instructions to go to Alice’s room to awaken her for breakfast. She’d run into the room and often climb into bed with “Auntie.” One morning, Alice pushed the controls, making the bed move. Janis was terrified and told “Auntie,” “Don’t do dat; dat naughty!” Alice chuckled about that for weeks—and made sure that we all heard about it! Since she was not able to speak well anymore, that was not easy for her to do. But Alice insisted on sharing her “joke” even as she also continued to try to contribute to conversations about her. She refused to allow this limitation to inhibit her participation.

Good Morning Alice:

Well, I hope the mail goes through today. Yesterday’s storm was really something! As long as everyone is safe at home, I do enjoy it. It is beautifully white this morning.

The end of all things is at hand. Did you ever think of how that is put: things? The end of all things. It’s as it Peter’s telling us this life is full of a clutter of things, but life everlasting with our Savior is the crystal clear beautiful reality. He then tells us to be sober and watch unto prayer. It’s as if he’s telling us, “Don’t waste your time concentrating on things,” but rather, in prayer often, center your thoughts on that everlasting life.

And then receiving the end of my faith—the salvation of my soul. True, my salvation was purchased on the cross and totally accomplished through Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension, but for me, my soul is still in the bondage of my nature and my sin.

Glorious will be the end of all things when I receive the salvation of my soul and am rid of my old nature and sin.

May God bless you today, Alice, as you think on this glorious salvation of yours.

With love, Your friend

Please read

II Cor. 4:6

Alice could not use her hands well anymore. By mid-April of 1981 she signed her last document—the income-tax return. She no longer signed her checks and would ask someone else, usually Judy, to sign Alice’s name to the birthday and anniversary cards which she still sent out regularly to all the relatives. Though still able to push the button controls of her hospital bed, this was becoming more difficult to do too. Finally, she could manipulate only one knuckle of her left hand to push the “up” or “down” button. Even this little measure of self-control was being taken away. What agony to lose what one almost considers the “right” to control one’s own bodily movements! Though Alice never said that all this was unfair, one could not but wonder what she must have thought. While others possessed so much, even this little freedom of movement was being taken from her.

Good Morning, Alice:

I’m a little late this morning. The kids are off to school already. I guess after the extra vacation day yesterday, I’m a little slow getting with it.

Did you spend some time just looking outside yesterday? I found a few minutes to just sit at the patio door and watch the snow, it is so beautiful and light and fluffy. And then last night the ground just sparkled as the light hit it. I threw some more corn out late last night and even though it sank down into the fluffy, snow, the rabbits found it. This morning there were tracks all over again.

I’ve read the verse for today over and over, and I’m not really sure if I know exactly what the “light” is, but I’ll share what the verse means to me.

My God loved me enough to give His Son to die for me, but more: sinful woman that I am by nature, I don’t even desire light. Yet He loves me enough to shine in my heart and give me just the beginning of understanding of Who He is and of His glory by knowing Jesus Christ.

There is no better way that I can know more about Christ than by reading and reading and reading His Word. And how blest we are, Alice, that we can hear His Word preached to us in church and often at home on our tape recorders. If we would only use the knowledge that He has given to us, we would continually grow closer to Him and give Him all glory.

In His love, Your friend

Please read

Psalm 5:3

Other arrangements had to be made for Alice for toilet facilities. It no longer was possible to take her to the bathroom in the wheelchair. It became impossible to move her from the wheelchair in those close quarters. But brother John had another of his solutions: a stool and tub installed near Alice’s bed. It became a regular routine to help her to one or other of these necessary appointments. And John knew just how to handle Alice. A turn-table was on the floor next to the bed. John would help Alice to a sitting position on the bed and place her feet on the turn-table. Then with his knees against hers, he could lock her legs straight so that she could stand momentarily. Quickly and easily she could be turned around. This worked well for several months. Nor did Alice seem to mind this new procedure—perhaps especially because it gave her another opportunity to get out of bed for a short time.

Good Morning Alice:

It was a busy day yesterday, and yet I did read this verse over a couple of times. “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up.”

Sometimes I think most Christians neglect praying as they should and then I realize I don’t know how often others pray. I’m just finding excuses for my terrible lack. There just is no excuse. A child of God will turn to Him in prayer. And then I think, well, there are a lot of times during the day when I think about God and am very aware of Him, but that’s still no excuse for not calling on Him in prayer.

I must consciously direct my prayer unto Him every day, before I do any other thing. It seems as if it should come so natural because I really do desire it. Then why is it that I cannot control myself to do it? I really have no reason—just excuses.

This is a hard verse for me to take to myself. I’m going to think more about it and share more with you tomorrow.

With love, Your friend

Please read

Mark 1:35

Until the end of May, Alice could still feed herself. In fact, she insisted on doing so. But it was agonizing just to watch her try to do this. Ever so slowly she would force her face downward toward her plate. It was as though some unseen force was holding her head back. Then, with tremendous effort, she would try to raise her hand (which seemed weighted down by some heavy object), until she could place a small spoonful of food into her mouth. Someone had to cut the food into very small pieces or mash it that it would be soft enough to swallow. But after May of 1981, Alice conceded that it would be better if she allowed others to feed her. It was a humbling concession—to admit that one can not even feed oneself.

Good Morning Alice:

I can’t say I conquered this morning, that God was first in my thoughts, but let’s just say there was an improvement. I will continue, again, to strive to make God and His goodness my first thoughts when waking, and then draw near to Him in prayer.

I wonder, Alice, would it be a sinful crutch to put the words, “Remember Thy Creator,” next to my alarm clock? I wish I could know your answer. It certainly does help to write you every day.

I sometimes feel as if I’m getting down to the very basics of my life as a child of God. It’s sort of like self examination every day. I’m glad you join me in it, Alice.

I know that prayer is an important part, if not the most important part, of the life of the child of God—of my life and yours. What a wonderful example we find in Scripture. How often and how close Jesus came to God in prayer. It was always hard to think why Jesus had to pray, being God Himself I know there’s more to it than this, but just as we are to strive to live as He lived, so He gives us the example of how we are to pray. Jesus, perfect as He was, got up “a great while before day” and went to be by Himself to speak with His Father.

If I can get up early to get ready for a coffee date, or just a busy day, I certainly should be able to get up early to draw near to God.

I’m sure you can find time to be alone with Him also.

May we both grow closer to our God as we strive to draw nearer to Him in prayer.

In His love, Your friend

Please read

Phil. 1:2-6