My Girl Abbey

My Girl Abbey
Mother's Day 2015

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

If Jesus is a Healer, Why is My Child Still Disabled? Part 1

Mmmmmmm, it's Holy week!  My favorite few days out of the year, and a perfect time to post about the relationship that Jesus had with the disabled because he spent so much time in the three years of his public ministry healing the lame and crippled. Understanding Jesus as Healer has been such a tumultuous road for me...if ever there was an example of the "working out of your salvation," for me this is it!  This entire topic has tested my faith at so many levels, so many different times over the last ten years, and has taught me so many lessons about the character and kindness of my God. I'd love to share just a few with you.

Let's set the stage.  The streets are spilling over with people. I don't know why, and I've never been there, but I imagine a thickness hanging in the air. Amidst the smell of sweat and spices, man and beast, is a woman without a name. Jesus and his disciples are working their way through the streets when all the sudden Christ stops and says, "Who touched me?"  As my teenagers would say, "Um, is he for real?" Because everyone is touching everyone!  Not that kind of touch, he knows that holy power has left him. Read for yourself from Luke 8:42b-48.

As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” 47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

You're probably wondering why on earth I would start with this particular account of Jesus' miracles.  Well, for me this portion of Scripture was the beginning of my own healing. You see, I had this baby girl.  She was undeniably beautiful (and still is!), and so very precious to so many people.  But here I was at twenty two, a month shy of being married two years, and with a two month old baby who had therapy four days a week.  I was completely overwhelmed and under-educated.  But I knew Jesus could heal her.

There was not a nap or bedtime in the first few years of her life that I didn't sneak into her room after she fell asleep and lay my hands on her tiny head to ask God to heal her. I remember one particular afternoon that I finished praying for her and found myself flat on my face in the living room crying out to God.  "Jesus, ooh Jesus, I'm the woman in the crowd...if only you were here, I would push my way through the crowd to touch the edge of your cloak. But I have you inside of me Lord, I believe you can heal her." I'm talking, full on hysterical.  Heartbreaking, right?

For whatever reason, despite all the many prayers I've prayed over these last ten years, that particular one so full of faith and desperation has anchored itself in my memory. It begs the question of why she isn't healed the way I want her to be.  First, it's important that I am clear about the fact that I'm not God and I would never dare to presume to understand His ways.  Listen to His words in Isaiah 55:8-9:

"8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Still, I think Scripture creates a beautiful picture for us about how Jesus feels about the disabled.  There are priceless treasures of hope and purpose buried inside our toughest questions for God! Proverbs 2:3-5 says,

"3  yes, if you call out for insight
    and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
    and find the knowledge of God."

Hear more about my hidden treasures in Parts 2 and 3!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What Taylor Lake gave me: Ben, and the importance of getting past the muck!'s thick, gooey, and disgusting.  Imagine thinking you were about to dig your toes between the sand only to find what is commonly described as "decaying organic matter." GROSS! When I was a teenager, I spent several summers life-guarding at Taylor University's lake. For me, it was kind of a big deal to take the job because I literally hated that lake! I hated the fact that to get out to a certain point of the lake, you had to walk through muck.( I could also spend an entire paragraph on the biting fish, but that is not the point! haha)  Did you know that lakes with a layer of muck are also prone to becoming a breeding ground for leeches?  UGH!

I took the job because when you're sixteen, the idea of getting a tan AND being with some of your best friends all day is pretty great.  I was sitting at the end of a dock on that lake when my love for children with disabilities walked up to me.  He couldn't swim, but he loved the water.  I always kept one eye on the lake, and one eye on Ben. He liked me better when I wore my black swimsuit, so I bought two and wore one everyday.  I didn't even know what autism was back then, but despite all his quirks and occasional outbursts, I had this unexplainable affection for him.  I genuinely loved him...and sincerely wanted to be among his favorite people.

I always went to great lengths to talk to him, even though he couldn't talk, and to get his attention.  Then one day it happened...I was sitting at the edge of the dock and he walked up to me and put his hand on my back. He stood there with me for a long time.  I looked up to see his mom crying.  Apparently, this was a big deal?  I had no idea what had just happened.  What had just happened was my life changing, that's what.

His mom explained that any form of physical contact like that was almost unheard of, and then asked if I would be their babysitter sometime.  I was so excited!  We formed a beautiful relationship that lasted the next few years.  I learned a lot about autism, a lot about Ben, and a lot about what it meant to parent a child with special needs.  I often think back to that time and how it was  a part of the preparation I would need to be Abbey's mom.  It's a tender and beautiful memory for me. I think about the lake, I think about how I was just going to keep my job at Ivanhoe's Restaurant and not take on a second one because of some muck.

Muck. Decaying matter.  It's pretty gross.  You know what, sometimes I still need to get through the muck in my life to come into God's best for me.  That lake had a pretty thick layer covering the bottom.  I can't help but think about how much more attractive  it would have been if they had done something about it. It's not any different for me.  My life has layers of muck that blanket the floor of my mind and heart.  Decaying matter....things that are breaking down and represent death just piling up. If I were to pick it up with my hands, I think it would have that same slimy feel and nasty would seep through the spaces of my fingers and sink right back down to the bottom.  A breeding ground for things that want to suck the life right out of me, and fill me with all kinds of spiritual diseases.

I know God's best for me doesn't include muck. It has to be dredged up and cleaned out, because left alone it destroys the beauty my life was meant to display. I'm thankful that I  don't have to do that on my own.  Listen to what Jesus says in John 10:10-11, "10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."  I don't know about you, but I don't want to be held back by one who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy me.  I want to be in the safety of Christ, who came to free me from sin and muck, and to give me life "to the full."  

Do you want to hear something crazy?  I have a dream sometimes that I'm with my dear friend Christopher who passed away.  As teenagers, we were lifeguards together at that lake.  He asks me if I want to take a swim and we dive in.  The bottom of the lake is covered with gems, jewels, and diamonds. I just remembered that while I was typing...seriously! I don't think the analogy will be lost on you, it's amazing what God has for us if only we surrender our whole life to him.