20 June, 2024

We May Forget, But God Does Not

by | 23 January, 2020 | 1 comment

German psychologist and neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer is credited with identifying the first case of “presenile dementia”—later called Alzheimer’s disease—in 1906. The 1970s and 1980s brought increasing awareness about Alzheimer’s disease in America.

This personal reflection about a person with the disease was written by a Kentucky Christian College professor in 1990.

_ _ _

A Parable of Meaning

By Charles R. Gresham
January 21, 1990; p. 12

. . . One reads of what occurs when Alzheimer’s disease affects a person; one may even watch a television movie that presents Alzheimer’s effects in dramatic fashion; but it only “hits home” when it affects someone you know and love. Then it registers at the deepest level of one’s life.

He had been a close friend for almost twenty-five years. He was warm, generous, personable, with a great sense of humor. An elder in his local church and an excellent Sunday-school teacher, he had been a recognized leader of the Christian community for almost forty years. As a lawyer, his Christian influence had been extended generally through his profession and, particularly, as counsel to several Christian institutions in his geographic region. But Alzheimer’s had produced its devastating effect. Within a very few months, his brilliant mind and wonderful personality was gone. His personal effectiveness has come to an end. Those who knew him well were deeply grieved.

Isn’t it strange that the previous description appears to be of a person who is no longer alive (“he had been . . .”) and the response is similar to that which occurs at death (“were deeply grieved”)? Yet he is alive and may continue to live for several years. In God’s eyes, he is that same person who made us laugh, helped us think through important decisions, and was generous with his witness and wealth. How often, in situations like this, we forget.

It is here that . . . the wonderful gift of memory becomes so important. Even at a time that the disease is playing havoc with my friend’s ability to remember, my memory is unaffected. In fact, my memory is enlarged as incidents of the past are recalled. (Sometimes there is a faint recollection and a resultant chuckle on the part of my friend since the disease has not taken its total toll upon his mental powers.)

But even more, memory aids me to think of the great influence my friend has made throughout his years. There is a wife who loves him and bears the burden of his handicap. There are children who honor him and are now mature and actively involved in professional life, in which they too are carrying out their Christian commitment. There are numerous friends who, even though unrecognized, are the better and wiser due to his effect upon them. Only eternity itself will reveal how effective his influence has been through these many years of active adult life.

In a “throwaway” age of relativism and immediacy, my friend may have no meaning since he is no longer useful and no longer reflects what he once was. But in the minds of those who have been taught values and significance by revealed truth, my friend is just as important as he ever was. Perhaps the tragic consequence that has touched him may make us more aware of the significance of every moment of life. I wonder if the situation were reversed what could my friend say about me?

_ _ _

Charles R. Gresham, who wrote this essay, served on the faculty of Kentucky Christian College—now Kentucky Christian University—in the city of Grayson for many years. He died while out walking on a sunny and unseasonably warm afternoon in November 2002. He was 74.

_ _ _

—Jim Nieman, managing editor, Christian Standard

1 Comment

  1. Sandra Ziegler

    I deeply appreciated rereading the insights of these writers I knew when I was younger. I read all three articles in this post. Last night I went to a new video/book study at church where Tony Evans began to remind me of flawed people God used in mighty ways. I am glad to be only Christian but not the only Christian. I have had some sense in recent months that the time may be coming upon us when I will be thankful for any believer who will draw alongside and keep me keeping on regardless of where he or she came to know the word and Word.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Articles

Ministry Help Wanted

Recent postings: A director of campus ministry is needed at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign). Stillwater (Pa.) Christian Church is looking for both a lead pastor and a youth pastor. Lexington (Ohio) Church of Christ is seeking a full-time senior minister. Norwin Christian Church in North Huntingdon, Pa., needs a full-time worship minister. Lycoming Christian Church in Linden, Pa., is seeking a minister of children, youth, and young adults. Michigan City (Ind.) Christian Church needs a senior minister. And more . . .


By taking these symbols of Jesus’ body and blood, we announce we believe there really was a Jesus, and he really did die for us and carried all our sins down to a grave . . .

Documentary Highlights Christian Response to Pandemics

Southeast Christian Church’s “Purpose in Pandemics” is a documentary that follows the response of the church to pandemics throughout history. The “Purpose in Pandemics” website also includes a study guide for small groups and individuals.

Used of God

I soaked up Sam Stone’s wit and wisdom during our lunches together. Afterward, I’d take notes about our conversations. After hearing of his passing, inspired by his wordsmithing, I felt compelled to share just a small part of his story.

Sam E. Stone: ‘He Tried to Speak the Truth in Love’

In memory and appreciation of our former editor, Sam E. Stone, who died early this week, we share this 2011 column from Christian Standard’s archives in which Sam discussed four Scripture verses significant to his life.

Elliott Library ‘Cornerstone’ Laid

Three Bibles of historical significance to Cincinnati Christian University were the first books place on the shelves during relocation of the George Mark Elliott Library.

The Death of Evil

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saw in minority groups’ struggles for social equality in America a parallel with Israel’s bondage in Egypt. King envisioned God’s goodness would deliver the U.S. from the evil of segregation.

Mark Scott’s Greatest Kingdom Impact

Since I first enrolled at Ozark Christian College, Mark Scott has been my kingdom hero, and I’m not the only young preacher Mark has shaped. Over his 35 years at OCC, Mark has inspired generations of students.

‘Have We Plans for 1921?’

“All the Standard asks is the opportunity to serve, and it yearns to render in 1921 the greatest, finest, and best service of its history. . . .”

News Briefs for Dec. 9

Items from Timber Lake Christian Church (Moberly, Mo.), Choateville Christian Church (Frankfort, Ky.), Johnson University, and more.

My Counsel for Young Preachers

If I were counseling an aspiring young preacher fresh out of Bible college or seminary, champing at the bit to lead in the church, I would offer these three bits of advice.

My Memories of Marshall Leggett

By Ben Merold
As I think about Marshall Leggett, who passed away on March 2 at age 90, two personal experiences keep coming to my mind . . .

Powell Quintuplets Graduating from High School

When the Powell quintuplets were born in 2001, all of Kentucky celebrated, including Southeast Christian Church, where the Powells are longtime members. Now the quints are 18 and are all headed to the same university.

Reentry: It May Be Harder Than We Think

When the COVID-19 crisis eases, I anticipate that reentry is going to be harder than some people think. Churches, especially, need to prepare for this.