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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Garments And Crowns

"Put your toe on your nose.  Put your nose...on somebody elses' noOOoose...

...And you keep it there all day!"  (The Laurie Berkner Band)

My mind has been spinning in a whirlwind of thoughts today...and this song (Pig On Her Head, by the Laurie Berkner Band) is playing on "repeat song" in my head!  I love singing it with Sketch. He gets the biggest grin and I find it exceptionally cute when he actually takes his toe and puts it on his nose as he sings the song .

At age 5, it isn't so unusual to put your toe on your nose...but I have no reason to believe that age 25, Sketch won't still put his toe on his nose when he sings this song!   If he does, that would be a bit unusual...that would get people's attention, I'm sure!

From unusual... to Adorable

There are many things that he does right now that result in numerous gazes of  the people that we happen to come across throughout a day.

Like singing to himself... or singing loudly (usually Brooke Frasers songs) Proclaiming  praises to God, without fear.

From offensive... to Inspiring

People just look at him and smile at his innocence.

"What is he singing?" a teacher recently asked.

"It is a song by Hillsongs" I reply.

From isolated... to Opportunity

And of course, his unhindered emotions brings a lot of opportunity to say a word or two to the many admiring onlookers... (you can read about his unhindered joy in a previous post, here). Sometimes though, it isn't so easy to see the beauty in what is going on.

Sometimes the treasure comes from something less fortunate. Like a fear.

Sketch has been terrified of ceiling fans, which causes many problems when he must pass through a room/store with one hanging in the center of it!  He would just freeze...and stare.  I can only imagine he is wondering if it will fall on his head...  But lately, he has been becoming more curious about them...more daring.  At church in our sanctuary, there are ceiling fans that are painted to match the color of the ceiling.  They fascinate Sketch. He has wanted to go in and sit in there so he can look at them.  At first he'd just stare at the fans, but lately, he doesn't seem to notice them that much and is more interested in looking at other things in the room.

From trembling... to Bravery

Sometimes it takes a little work.  Sometimes we have to blow off some dust or dirt first, before the treasure is revealed.

Like when we suffer a loss or  when a traumatic event occurs in our lives.  Over time we can look back and see how God used that for our good and His glory.

From tragedy... to Treasure

And sometimes we can't...

Sometimes we need some help, and our wonderful Counselor is just the person.

He loves to blow the ash and soot off of us when we're in a fiery trial, to reveal the beautiful creation he's working on underneath.

 

From ashes... to Beauty

Isaiah 61: 1-3 (NIV)

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

If we let him, He will do it...

But there is always that part of the deal where we have something to do... we need to accept what God's offering. We have to put on the garment of praise. We have to wear the crown of beauty that he placed on our head.  We need to take off that garment of shame and despair and mourning, etc., and believe that we are the Kings' daughters, as He has said.

Garments

It's time for a change of apparel, it seems

These garments no longer fit

The dark sweats of shame do not compare

to the beautiful garments of praise


My Savior has wrapped me in new clothes today

They are beautiful, made for royalty

It is hard to imagine  how He intended

These gem-laden garments for me


The crown of beauty is on my head

The oil of joy flowing down

As God claimed me as one of his own

The spirit of despair was cast down.


He's turned my tragedy to treasure

He took my filthy ash-covered self

Wiped off my face and my head and my heart

He Replaced it with heavenly wealth

 

 

Garment of Praise

Inspired by Beth Moore's Breaking Free Bible Study