By Joanna Fryling
Sunday afternoons have often been a good time for us to extend our church fellowship by visiting Lyle, one of our church members who is a resident in a local nursing home. We always come away amazed at the difference that knowing Jesus makes in a very difficult situation. Lyle is debilitated by early onset Parkinson’s. Any discomfort we might feel in seeing his physical condition is dissipated by Lyle himself. He loves to talk when able, and so the conversation moves from people and places we have in common, to sports, music, and news. He’s often interested in our lives and what is happening, remembering past conversations and asking about them. Even though speech can be difficult, he enjoys listening and often responds with a broad smile or laugh at something humorous. He also loves to have portions of the Bible read to him.
Recently when we shared part of the sermon about witnessing to neighbors, Lyle responded by saying that that was something he could do for his “neighbors” – quite remarkable in a man who suffers deeply in many ways and is deprived of much that we take for granted.
Lyle has a number of regular visitors including extended family and old friends, Jan and Ed Wright and some of the pastoral staff at New Life. He really enjoyed it when Ed and Jan arranged for Joyce Johnson to bring a keyboard. The staff gathered a number of residents in the dining room to listen and sing along with some choruses and hymns.
Whenever we visit, I am reminded that Lyle is on the front lines in our battle against the arch-enemy, Satan. From outward appearances he is not a strong warrior. But the Holy Spirit at work in him – sustaining his love for Jesus, calming him in the midst of anxiety, and deepening his anticipation of what the future holds – is beautiful. Lyle really strengthens our faith as we see God at work in him. He is a living reminder of 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”