Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

As I dared brave the world with three children by myself yesterday we ended up going to see Cars 2. After loading up on popcorn and candy and praying no one had to go to the bathrooom during the movie, we had a great time watching the movie. In the midst of the movie there was a couple of scenes about the scraps and scratches on the cars. In one scene Mater is asked to remove his scratches and dings, but he refuses because of the memories that came from those scratches.

What does being perfect look like? How much of our life revolves risk aversion and worrying about covering up all the scratches and dents of our own imperfections?

Psalm 139:14 "I will praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Your works are wonderful. I know that full well."

As I continue to reflect on our week at Joni and Friends camp, that concept of being fearfully and wonderfully made seems to not apply to most of the people we met. As special needs families we live in the land of misfit toys. The scrapes and scares are much tougher to cover than that of "ordinary" people. The filters and the social norms that society as a whole lives by does not apply here.

In one of the sessions a pastor from Chicago shared with us his journey. he has a daughter who has numerous issues including cerebal palsy. The pastor shared how he was praying one day about his daughter about how he would love God to heal her. The response he felt that God told him was "I made her perfect, you are the one who has an issue with her."

Does God really make people that are not even close to perfect by our standards? In Exodus Moses is making excuses why he can't serve God due to his inadaquacies. God's response is in Exodus 4:11 "The Lord said to him, "who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord?

Another comment that was made during the week was "is the church (kingdom of God) complete if there aren't special need people? Not just being on the sideline but being an intrical part of what God is doing.

The singing while at camp may have been the worse I have ever heard from a personal standard. Kyle covered his ears numerous times say "this is horrible." But the heart that was singing those songs was as sincere and full of faith and hope in the words as I have ever seen.

One moment that will last in mind was a twenty something young man who was in an electric wheelchair, could hardly speak, and was in pretty rough shape. The last night there was a talent show, he got up and sang/hoarse whispered "It is well with my soul." I think he really believed it.

In John 9 the disciples and Jesus see a man born blind sitting on the side of the road and the disciples ask why? Jesus answer in verse 3 "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, said Jesus "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

We saw that display last week. People were given a chance to be the people God had made them to be. As many of the families were leaving, there was tears and crying. In general it was because of fears of going back to a world that is so difficult for them. They wanted to stay in an enviornment where they were seen through the eyes of someone who had created them fearfully and wonderfully made.

My guess is heaven is going to look a whole lot more like that week than many other things I imagined or envisioned.

Monday, June 27, 2011

They Didn't Leave

Life changes in a split second. The words are from a doctor and the news isn’t good, your child has _______. The diagnosis’ are all different but the results are the same the diseases are going to alter life as usual. In some cases the doctors don’t know specifically what a child has but there is enough evidence to know that life will not be as one envisioned.

In most cases like this men bolt. The fathers who had dreamt of playing sports with their kids, being proud of them for stellar achievements, giving their daughters away for marriage have all been crushed. When a special needs child comes into a family, men leave at an alarming rate- over 80% of the time.

I had the privilege last week to meet some men who didn’t leave. They have stayed despite the unmet expectations of life, they are not going to kids sporting events but rather they are changing their diapers. They have given up their own hopes and dreams to sit by hospital beds for days and months at a time.

These men come from all walks of life, engineers, accountants, ministry, banking industry, self-employed and many other occupations. These men are tough, yet tender, humorous, yet serious, boundless energy, yet a common tiredness.

But don’t feel sorry for these men, they have chosen to stay. They have defied the odds and have stayed with their families. They have seen and experienced precious moments of life that many of us have missed. There are small joys and unexpected happiness of raising a special needs child.

Curiosity and wonder is seen in the eyes and verbal sounds coming from these children. These fathers have patience that is seen in very few. In “normal” society there are some very uncomfortable moments and moments that defy logical happiness or fulfillment. Yet these men tirelessly serve and do what is needed to serve their children. The communication that happens between the fathers and their children is instinctual and can only be known from hours of being and spending time with one’s child.

Fear comes in a different form to these fathers. What happens if my child outlives me? Who is going to care for them? Who is going to protect and love them? The love of a father is precious and seen in so few fathers of special needs children.

This love that I saw from these dads this week was reminiscent of Jesus. A selfless love that is full of patience, kindness, and self-control. It was an honor and a privilege to observe these men in action.

Thank you- Russ, Mike, Frank, Chinglieng, John, and many others for being the dads that model Jesus not only to your kids, but to everyone who comes in contact with you.