Before leaving for Nebraska, I began to mediate on some verses from the book of Philippians –
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me. (verses 12 – 18).
Verse 17 stood out to me – the illustration of being poured out as if from a pitcher was an interesting one for me to ponder as I was preparing to go to Nebraska and serve. The context of the verse is on serving as Christ did. Since I was not all that familiar with a drink offering, I decided to spend some time looking at what it was and how it was used.
If one looks back and looks at the Levitical priesthood, you see that the primary offerings were animals, birds and grains. God ordained that with each sacrificial offering, there would also be a drink offering which consisted of wine poured out together with the offering. This is what Paul is referring to as he speaks of pouring out his life for the Philippians.
What does it look like to pour out ones life as a drink offering? Paul was referring to the old testament practice as he is writing as his life blood is about to be poured out to seal the offering he was bringing to God – the fruits of his ministry. By way of inference, a life that is poured out in God’s service is an acceptable offering in the sight of God.
I am sure that there is much more to a drink offering and I am still studying it, but for me as I was in Nebraska pouring myself out meant being willing to walk with my dad around the addition with constant reminders of what he needed to do and then do it a few hours later knowing that he would not remember what we had just done. It also meant bending over, putting more stress on my back to be able to look my dad in the eyes when I was talking to him, putting my hand on his back to put pressure on him to keep him in the right position with the walker and putting pressure on the walker to keep Dad from pushing it too far out in front. Since my dad’s brain and body do not communicate well, it sometimes meant physically moving his right side to help him to keep moving. Sometimes it meant taking the walker and showing Dad what he is currently doing and then illustrating what he needs to work towards. It also meant being willing to get up with dad at least twice each night to help him get to the bathroom and if necessary change his clothes.
I realized a couple of things during this visit. One thing is that mom rarely eats a meal with my dad and she does so grudgingly when we are there. Dad is a very social person and the additional people around him this weekend helped to stimulate him. He didn’t care if we talked to him, just having us around was important to him.
The second thing is that physical touch is so important. My dad loves to dance and is used to giving signals to his dance partner with his hands. The same is true for my dad at this point. I am learning how to “direct” my dad’s body through the use of directed pressure on my dad’s back. He responds rather quickly to this type of direction as it “shows” him where he needs to go with his body. I tried to get mom to do this – but she refused. She said she could watch him from the table. The problem with that is that she is not there if he falls or needs to have some help in getting his body to move. Using physical touch to help Dad get what he needs indicates a willingness to give of your self in order to help another. She is not one to do more than the minimum necessary to take care of my dad and she does it grudgingly.
Giovanna gets what it means to pour oneself out as demonstrated by this picture;
She has been through a difficult recovery from surgery and knows how important physical touch is! She was a great help as I worked with Dad. He seemed to enjoy her interactions as well.
I know that Dad responds well to both Gary and I as we work with him, especially during the night time. He senses that we love and care for him and willingly (at least most of the time) does what we ask him to do. We provide the rationale behind what we are asking so that he understands why we are asking certain things.
Dad has a long road ahead of him and I have no idea what God has in store for him, but I am asking God to use the illustration of pouring out my life for his faith to point him to God and the work of Jesus on the cross. I am willing to pour out my life sacrificially in order for my dad’s faith to be built. Please pray that God will accomplish that in my dad.