Really Believe: Courage to Serve God (with Mary-Courage)

 

When God first called me to be an autism mom, my insides ached like someone was stretching my heart out as far as they could, then flinging back inside my chest to bounce around, bruise my soul.

My mind raced with anxious thoughts about the future. Every child I saw reminded me my son was not like them.  I may never have a conversation with him, or even hear him speak. My heart quivered inside as I wondered what our lives would be like.

Grappling to understand God's plans for us, I pleaded with Him: Please do not let this be!

But God inspired me with His Goodness, and with gentleness guided my heart to say, “Yes” to His plan. I drenched my will in His Word until it dripped with trust in His ways.

I had to decide: Did I love God for who He is or for what He does for me? I believed children are a gift from the Lord, but I needed to realize children with autism are equally a gift from the Lord.  I became convinced that raising children with autism is part of His Good Plan for me.

In order to be released from the dark cloud that was storming an inclement future, I needed to really believe:

Special needs children are good and perfect gifts,

crafted intentionally by a good God,

 for a great purpose.

Believing that took courage!

Sometimes releasing the plans we have to embrace God's plans for us, requires great courage: Mary-courage.

Bible Art Journaling on Mary-courage: immersing our will into God’s plan

This past Christmas my 4-year-old was fascinated by the Christmas story. She thought it was a big secret, knowing the truth about Mary and her baby. Every night for many weeks we read the story and I wondered at Mary’s courage to accept God’s plan. Talk about having surprising (but good!) plans dumped on your life! Mary faced many challenges when she agreed to God's plan. By being single and pregnant, and pregnant by someone other than her betrothed:

  • The punishment could be death by stoning.
  • She would have to face her family’s reaction.  Their society would bring shame upon them all.
  • Her friends would no longer associate with her.
  • She had to tell her future husband she is pregnant—no doubt she worried!
  • She had to cope with the gossip flying around her, no doubt.  As a girl who was faithful to her God, she would not want to be thought of that way!

How could she give these concerns (and more) up? By believing “… that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!” (Luke 1:45) Mary’s courage to really believe God was fueled by trust and love.

What would happen if we really believe God, and trade in our worries for deep trust in God’s calling on our lives?

We would have “Mary-courage”:  Courage to abandon ourselves—become a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1)—and immerse our will into God’s perfect plan. I love what Mary says, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”  (Luke1:38)

God has called each of us to assignments that require this brand of courage.  He will call us to face challenges that seem impossible. His plans may make us squirm as we wrestle to understand His goodness in our reality. But when God calls us to a task, He also equips us to carry it out.

He took care of Mary and empowered her through all the struggles she faced. He will also care for us and empower us to carry out the magnificent plans He’s called each of us to fulfill.

My older son with autism is now 13, and my younger son is now 10. God has kept His promise to protect and empower me as their mom, and them as His children. He is Fully Able. We will not fail in our calling when we place our trust in Him.  Indeed, with God we will flourish!

Pondering Points:

1. In what ways have you had to have courage like Mary?

2.. What dream is God placing in your heart— birthing in you?

3. Mary’s “Yes” to God changed the world. How would your yes to God change your world?

 

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Are You Missing Out?

The Most Interesting People On Earth

Are You Missing OUt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you were a fly on the wall at the grocery store while I was shopping, you would probably see me scan the check out isles for the shortest and fastest line to join. I’m usually in a hurry, trying to fit too many things into too small of a time. But this particular time, my hurry was halted by a missed interaction.

There were two good options for a fast checkout that day.  I choose the line on the right which placed me in line after a person with some visible special needs.

This man, I’ll call Ben, looked to be in his mid-thirties, though he was hunched over his grocery cart like an elderly man would do for support.  He also had trouble talking, like his mouth would not cooperate with his brain and he couldn’t form the words he wanted to say. It didn’t stop him from trying to communicate, though.

He stood in front of the half-sized ’10 items or less’ conveyer belt as he gestured for me to go ahead and put my things on the belt. I couldn’t take him up on his offer because his order hadn’t been rung up. It sat on the belt right where he wanted me to place my items.

“Thank you,” I said to him with a smile, “but I need to wait for your order to move up before I can put my things on the belt.”

He gestured again in his charming way, for me to put my things on the belt. Ben was very polite and gentlemanly, smiling and gesturing with a bow, as though he were a professional butler for a large castle in England.

“Thank you.” I say again. “After your order moves up, I will put my things on.”

Unsatisfied, Ben turns toward the conveyer belt which just started moving. It was finally his turn.

The man standing in line in front of Ben (who was a helper of some sort for him) noticed our conversation and said, “The lady said, “Thank You!” in sign language, and then he told him it was time to go.

They left before I could tell them that I also know sign.  I had no idea the man was hearing impaired!

I felt like I was cheated of a great opportunity. 

I had missed out. 

I had missed out on a chance to connect to someone who is especially interesting.  I wanted to call after them and explain that I know sign language and could I please say hello to Ben. But given the busy environment, crowds and noises, I decided against it.

My strong reaction of disappointment following this lost opportunity caught my attention. I had been thinking a lot about the value of life—all life, no matter how severely disabled or how marvelously gifted.  

Subtle hints (and sometimes not so subtle) of people with special needs being less valued than someone deemed a “productive member of society” permeate our culture, or communities, and sometimes, even our churches.

And it is a great loss. 

People with special needs have an extra dose of interesting mixed into them, but they rarely get spoken too.

They bring great joy to their families and friends, yet they rarely get to share that side of themselves to “outside people”.

 

They rarely get to have meaningful conversations with others, because they are overlooked. Or worse, avoided.

I guess I was so disappointed because to Ben and his helper? I was just like everyone else. And I don’t want to be like that. I failed to break through and let Ben know he was a person worthy of getting to know, and that he was especially interesting because he was made differently in the image of God. Because of this, he reveals different facets of God to everyone he interacts with. 

And.  I . Missed. Out.

We worry about missing so many opportunities—whether for our career, our hobby or interest, or for a trip, a party or event, or even for a sale at the store.

We hoard and gather as if we will never have that chance again.

We overload our schedules trying to do it all, something we can never accomplish so we set ourselves up to do everything poorly.

And all this time we spend hustling around trying to stuff too much into lives to avoid missing out, we actually do miss out on the one thing that really may go away—people. 

We miss out on relationships with each other because of our hurry and worry about missing “more important” opportunities.  We can't have it all. Opportunity costs something.

There is nothing more important than the people set before us.

Relationships are invaluable, precious gifts from God to us. Relationships are important to God—so much so, that He gave his son in order to have a relationship with you and me.

We are the joy that was set before Him at the cross. (Hebrews 12:2)

Coffee Time

(Your turn to share your story in the comments):

When was the last time you connected with a person with special needs?

What especially interesting things did you learn or notice while engaged with a person with special needs?

Do you tend to hurry through life trying to ride every opportunity and miss out on some important ones?

How do you view the value of those with special needs?