|Vol. 15 No. 8 August 2013||
Maria Garcia has been described as “a happy lady with a sweet and easy laugh.” She also suffers from dementia and cannot remember things very well. However, when Garcia awakens each morning, she walks into the living room and asks one of her caregivers a routine question: “Is my mother up yet?”
Garcia’s mother, Rosario Schielzeth, continues to be Garcia’s primary caregiver and companion. The remarkable thing about this is that Garcia is 86-years-old, and her mother is 104! This mother and daughter have rarely been apart during their lives. In fact, they have spent over 60 years living together in the same house. Since when Garcia’s health began to fail, her mother has always been there to help her.
Schielzeth reads the newspaper each morning and seeks to keep her daughter’s mind active by keeping her updated on current events. She also reminds Garcia of what day it is, if she has eaten and the whereabouts of their dog, Frankie.
“She lovingly reminds her, which is a difficult thing, I would imagine at 104, to have patience over and over again,” said Carol Festari, one of Garcia’s 24-hour caregivers.
Sprinkled throughout their Sarasota, FL home are some stunning paintings done through the years by the talented Garcia. One of her paintings hangs over her mother’s bed. It is of two people sitting together in the countryside, near some serene water, having a picnic lunch on a beautiful day. The two people in the painting are a mother and daughter, a tribute, no doubt, to the lasting love that is being lived out each day between the painter and her mother.
Their love also reminds us of the love of the Creator for His creation. It was because of His love that God created mankind, and a world that was perfectly suited to sustain man’s life. However, man “messed up” God’s perfect creation by disobeying God’s will (Genesis 3).
We all have followed suit: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but God still loves us and cares for us! He loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so that we might be forgiven of our sins and receive the gift of eternal life (John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7).
God will save those who place their faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10) and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38).
His Word (the Bible) is a “constant reminder” of His provision for man. It is the cross of Christ that stands as the emblem of God’s unending love for His creation (1 John 4:9-10). He has assured us of His continued care and eternal life, if we will just accept His offer of salvation on His terms.
Charles J. Aebi
One meaning of the word “balk” is familiar in baseball, but that is not the only place where the word is used. When I was a small boy, we had a neighbor who had a mule that he used to pull a plow or cultivator between the rows to rid his garden of weeds. Sometimes the mule would balk in the middle of the garden, refusing to pull the plow any further. In some cases, additional “urging” would lead to the mule lying down in the harness and refusing to move until Carl, the owner, took the harness off the mule. I have heard a story about a farmer who had a balky mule which he hit over the head with a two-by-four “to get his attention.” I always thought the story apocryphal and a bit drastic, but perhaps it might get a really stubborn mule to work.
Most of us do not deal much with mules, but we do at times have to teach or work with stubborn people who will cooperate only up to a point, then balk at going further. This is often the case with baptism; many people will believe in God and that Christ is God’s Son, but they balk at baptism. One man simply clams up and refuses to talk any more about it when I urge him to be baptized. Another man I taught for years finally said he would be baptized if he could continue to be a Methodist, but he refused to be baptized into Christ and be only a Christian. A friend of mine thinks I should have “baptized” him anyway and let him continue to believe and practice as he wished, thus treating baptism as the magical way to assure the man of eternal salvation. However, he would just have gotten wet; he would not have been baptized. My friend seems to think that all one has to do is be baptized, and he will go to heaven regardless of where and how he worships or what he really believes, making it salvation by baptism alone.
Why do people balk at baptism? When we teach people about Christ and they say they believe in Him, then we teach them what Jesus and the apostles said about repentance, and they say they believe and will do that. Yet, when we review some conversions in Acts, and ask the question Ananias asked Saul, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord,” they balk. Why? It must be that they do not understand what real commitment to Christ means. If they accept the Gospel as the Word of God, it must follow that they do what it asks of them. If they balk at baptism, they must not really believe that Christ means what He says. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). Either they believe that or they do not. It is one thing to believe that God exists and that Jesus is His Son; it is something else to believe that they mean exactly what they say, and that they intend to judge us by whether we have done what they tell us. Note John 12:48, which says we will be judged by the Word of Jesus.
Some may balk at baptism because they have been taught that we are not saved by works and that baptism is a work. Both faith and repentance actually take more effort than baptism, and surely no one who reads the Bible can really believe that we do not need to believe and repent. Besides that, the Bible does not call baptism a work. Baptism is simply a condition placed by the Lord on salvation; it is not the only condition, but it is one condition. To balk at it is to fail to go the whole way and get the job done, just like Carl’s mule that got the garden only partially cultivated. One who stops at third base and does not run on home no more contributes to the winning of the game than if he had struck out in the beginning. One who balks at baptism is in a similar position; he has gone only part of the way. Faith, repentance, and confession are not enough; the Lord has put baptism and a whole new life in the picture as well.