Righteous Rhonda SuZanne Johnson

“You keep telling me what has been lost, and I keep telling you something remains.”  John Swinton, “Dementia: Living in the Memories of God.

Two similar people live virtually the same life

  • Rhonda – Realizing relationship with God is given by His grace through faith in Jesus, Rhonda placed her full trust in Him for salvation and eternal life. In this process, God gave to Rhonda His righteousness.  Let’s call her “Righteous Rhonda.”
  • Vince (Fictional) – Having heard of the Good News of relationship with God given by His grace through faith in Jesus, Vince wasn’t sure. The surrender your life to the leadership of God seemed too much to ask.  “Deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Jesus” was out for sure.  “I’m not giving my life to anyone, especially an invisible God.” He said.  Let’s call him “Unconvinced Vince.”

Righteous Rhonda and Unconvinced Vince both experience early onset dementia and die at fifty-one years of age.

The disease process was the same for both Vince and Rhonda.  In some ways, it seems they have had the exact same experience.  But have they?

Is there any real advantage to being Christian in life?

Yes, there are many spectacular advantages to living life in the Gospel of Christ.

There is the significant advantage of personally belonging to God.

When I no longer know who I am, I rest in whose I am.

Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3

There is the significant advantage of personally resting in memory.

  • When I no longer remember anything, I rest in knowing God remembers me.
  • J. I. Packer writes about the comfort we have in being known by God:

“What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it — the fact that he knows me. I am graven on the palms of his hands (Isaiah 49:16). I am never out of his mind. All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters.”

  • “But he knows the way I take; when he hath tried me I shall come out as pure gold.” Job 23:10

There is the significant advantage of personally resting in God’s grace.

  • When I no longer can “do anything,” I rest in knowing God is doing everything for me and in me.
  • But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

There is the significant advantage of Presence.

  • When folks wonder if I am still present, I rest in knowing God is ever present with me.
  • “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

There is the significant advantage of personal certainty.

  • When I am no longer certain about myself, my certainty about God remains the same.
  • “But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.” 2 Timothy 1:12

There is the significant advantage of guaranteed eternal life in relationship with God, reunited with believing family and friends for time without end.

  • “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”” John 11:25, 26
  • Jesus also said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

Today, we celebrate the work of God’s Good News for Rhonda.

She has truly “fought a good fight, finished the race, and henceforth a crown of righteousness” is hers.

Rhonda is absent in body and present with the Lord.

We worship and celebrate God who has made this grace of eternal life available to us through faith in His Son.

If we were at a service today for our fictional Unconvinced Vince, our sorrow would be immeasurable.

But “Glory to God” we are celebrating Righteous Rhonda’s abundant, boisterous, energetic, faith-based life.

Today, my prayer is that, unlike Unconvinced Vince,  you will join Righteous Rhonda.

Without a doubt, I am fully convinced.