Why We Cannot Cast Them Aside

It’s like when you buy a new car and then suddenly notice that same make and model everywhere you go. I’ve become hyperaware of just how many of us are impacted by the broad spectrum of diseases doctors categorize as dementia. We’re everywhere! Except loving someone with dementia is nothing like buying a new car. There is no thrill of having something shiny and new—only fear and grief and stress. As I’ve watched my precious mom deteriorate from the devastating effects of early onset Alzheimer’s, I’ve also had to face our world’s deeply entrenched beliefs about what gives people value. 

When her body and brain began to change, I noticed that the people around her changed too. They stopped looking toward her and started looking through her. They stopped talking to her and started talking about her. 

I’ve got no stones to throw. This journey has forced me to face how terribly devoted I can be to the golden calves of Productivity and Influence. My American allegiance to hard work and hustle is challenged by the fact that my mom can do very little for herself anymore. She cannot contribute to the world around her in ways that can be put on a spreadsheet. As I watch her fade, I must wrestle, really wrestle,with the message found on the first page of God’s Word—all people matter because all people are stamped with the image of God (Gen. 1:27).

Blessed Are the Cast Aside

When my mom gets to glory, I hope she and blind Bartimaeus are friends. You’ll find his story tucked in between the highlight reels recorded in Mark 10. Here’s how Scripture describes him,

Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. (v. 46 ESV)

In a fragment of a single verse, this is what we learn:

  • Bartimaeus had a name.
  • He had a condition that defined him. 
  • He was somebody’s son. 
  • He was cast aside. 

As others buzzed by on the highway of life, Bartimaeus was forced to simply linger in the ditches, for what value could a blind man possibly add to the world? But pay attention to two powerful words attached to Bartimaeus’ story. 

Jesus stopped. (v. 49)

Read those words again. I pray they arrest your heart.

Jesus stopped.

Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the one whom all things are from, through, and to (Rom. 11:36) did not walk past Bartimaeus. He didn’t pretend not to see Him. He stopped. Spiritually speaking, He stooped, condescending to look into the dim eyes of a man who could offer so little in return. 

There is more to the story, of course. But Jesus’ full stop to attend to one who had been cast aside has plenty to teach us today. Blind people matter to Jesus. Sick people matter to Jesus. People with dementia matter to Jesus. Sinners matter to Jesus. Addicts matter to Jesus.Everybody matters to Jesus. 

Lavish Love and the Long Goodbye

Last year I sat down with a woman whose life and words have helped form me into the image of Jesus. Tippy has been my friend and mentor since I was a little girl. She’s been a stalwart sister to my mom during the long goodbye of dementia. Now in her eighties, Tippy’s own mind is beginning to change. She is facing this reality without fear because she knows, in the very marrow of her bones, that she matters to Jesus, come what may. She lives out that conviction by looking people in the eye and loving them like He would. We let the cameras roll as we talked about dementia, and what the Spirit of God is teaching us through it. It’s a tender conversation but one we hope the Church will have more often. 

Tippy would want me to tell you this: Jesus loves you. He loved Bartimaeus. He loves my mom. Though I am spiritually sick and deeply broken, He loves me too. A love so lavish comes with an assignment: as you face people who are cast aside today, consider Jesus’ countercultural example, then “go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37). 

We’re calling this “Tippy Week” on the blog, as we share four posts inspired by “Tippy’s Teaching Me,” the newest season of The Deep Well with Erin Davis (which Erin mentioned in the post above). This season is extra special—not only does it feature Tippy Duncan, a woman whose everyday faithfulness profoundly affected both Erin Davis and Dannah Gresh, but it’s available for you in audio or video. We hope you’re as moved as we are as you join Erin and Dannah in Erin’s hometown as they pay tribute to the woman who taught them how to love and live well.

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager … read more …

Join the Discussion