When you hear a familiar voice calling out to you, what would your first reaction be? To turn to the source of the voice, perhaps. But there’s an infinitesimal second in between the calling of your name and your immediate turning reaction where your brain works out the appearance of that somebody from memory.
When you come to think of it, it’s actually much like a puzzle. Their most striking feature appears first, it could be their eyes, or their smile, maybe even their hair. Then slowly, it is matched up with their other parts. It is then when their personality comes into play. Your brain works like CODIS- a special forensic computer application-, connecting the name to their appearance and the to their personality. By the time you turn around, you’d know exactly who the person is.
But what happens when your memory fails you? When names and faces can’t seem to find a match. A forensic team would search the missing persons unit. Our brains however, in this case, don’t seem to have technology of that sort. We can run our inner CODIS all we want, but all we’re going to get is a red, blinking “no match” sign. What we’ll be left with is a puzzled expression to fit our unsolved puzzle. How then would we react to a greeting from the other party? What do we say when our children innocently ask about our connections with that stranger? This was a situation I was for too familiar with. I have early- onset A. D.
Early-onset A.D. is one of the causes of dementia. Being diagnosed with it didn’t really come as a shock for me, I had it coming. My siblings and I were warned about it because our grandmother had it too. I guess I was just the unlucky one.
In the later stages of my Alzheimer’s disease, names and faces were all but a blur. I would spend most days just sitting and staring into space. I knew it wasn’t long before the rest of my body would fail me just like my brain had. Despite my conduction, there was one thing I always remembered. It would play in my head like a broken record. It was an unsung tune that I would fall asleep to. Most days, it’d be the only thing I’d think of…
You’d think that it’d be something big, something like fireworks on New Year’s Day. To most people, it’s merely two of the most common words in everyday life. To me, it meant the world.
Just two words can cause such a stir of emotions. To some it may bring about fear, pride,resentment, joy, relief, but to me it brought comfort. I would close my eyes and place myself in the shoes of the disciples on that stormy night in Matthew 14:22-33. Physically, I’d be in my comfy ol’ rocking chair, but my mind would be there, in that small boat. Hush… I think I can hear the whistling sound of the wind, can you?
Everything was smooth sailing and we were having a good time chatting on the boat until suddenly, a bolt of lightning flashed across the moonlit sky followed by the booming sound of thunder. Dark clouds hovered above our heads, concealing the stars that once like a compass, pointed the way to our destination. Strong winds blew with a howl accompanied by the rustling of leaves from trees that surrounded the lake. The billows that tossed the boat vigorously and the pelting rain started to fill the boat with water.
As fishermen, most of us were familiar with storms. They normally cleared up after an hour or so. This raging tempest however, showed no signs of dying down. The storm had caused a pandemonium on the boat. Not only were we hit by the crashing waves, but also by a surge of panic. Judging by the looks of distress on everyone’s faces, I knew we had the same thought in mind: we were going to die.
It was 3 o’ clock in the morning and the storm still had not cleared. Just then, we saw an indistinct figure walking towards us from a distance.
I felt a sudden chill run down my spine as the hairs on the hands stood on its ends. Filled with trepidation, I yelled “IT’S A GHOST!” My heart raced, my face was pallid, never in my life have I been this terrified. We huddled together on the rear end of the boat and said our final words, preparing for the worst.
Then, a familiar voice, deep and calm said, “Take courage! I AM. Don’t be afraid.” At once, we turned to the “ghost” and knew who it was.
On hindsight, the way the disciples reacted may have seemed irrational. But when I put myself in their shoes, I knew I would’ve reacted similarly. Even as I stared this huge storm- my condition- in the eye, I was overwhelmed by waves of panic. Everyday when I awoke, it took some explaining from one of the nurses to help me realise where I was. Some days, I didn’t even know who I was. And then there were days where I forgot I had Alzheimer’s.
The doctors told me that my days were numbered and my children were prepared for the worst. Yet, all I could do was sit in my rocking chair and let my mind wander. Though I had no way of expressing it, I was scared. In fact, I still am. The mist at that point had grown so thick that no matter how hard I squinted, my eyes simply couldn’t penetrate through it to recognise the indistinct figure in the distance.
Just when I thought I had lost all sense of direction and hope, a voice, deep and calm called out to me, “Take courage! I AM. Don’t be afraid.” For the first time in a long time, my inner CODIS found a match to that voice and I knew that no matter how much worse my condition got, I was safe and sound. The storm may have seemed so much bigger than He was, but I knew for a fact that He was in control.
He wasn’t just anybody and He most definitely was not a ghost. He is the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Alpha, Omega, Beginning and End. He is my Saviour, Messiah, Redeemer and Friend. He is The GREAT I AM.