Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Some days working in a community of those who parent children with special needs is a discouraging one. Don't get me wrong. This isn't meant to be a pity party. But all too often I feel lost. I lack direction. And I wonder what the heck I'm doing.
It's easy for me to question whether or not the work of this organization is making a difference in people's lives. The size of the mission field is so incomprehensibly huge. Too few churches really offer the practical and spiritual love of Christ to families who have a child with special needs. Still, if ever there was a group of people in desperate need of that eternal hope, it's them.
And too many families take the path of least resistance rather than choosing to do the right thing in any given situation. Schools resist giving needed, required services. Doctors act as if they know better than parents what is best for a child. Outsiders gossip and critique on how a mother or father is doing with their child rearing. So worn out couples give up or give full-vent to their anger instead of pressing on to be the example God calls them to be.
Given all of these facts, I so often think I want to throw in the towel and walk away from this type of ministry. But then God shows me in small ways He is doing big work in people's lives. A brief mention in my pastor's sermon did that for me this past weekend.
I'm unsure now of how the story came about, but the pastor mentioned that during this same sermon the evening before, a young adult with severe disabilities had caused a stir resisting his father. The young man, named Mark, who is belted to a walker came charging out of his seat and down the aisle to stand right in front of the pastor. "What can we do for you, Mark?" he asked. "I just love my Savior Jesus," Mark replied. The pastor not only choked up in sharing this story with the congregation, but he got me crying too.
You see, Mark has survived brain cancer at a young age. He has had several surgeries and bears the scars to prove it. In addition to his walker, he requires hearing aids and glasses, and has little hair atop his head. He is cognitively impaired. And despite his challenges, his physical strength is absolutely remarkable.
Mark started attending church a number of years ago when I met him and his mom at camp. She was so sad and weary. And they were having no success at finding a church home that would offer them the love and acceptance that they so deeply desired. So I encouraged them to come give our church a try. After all, we had just built a lovely new building that was fully accessible and had seating carved out right in the middle, so a guy like Mark could sit amidst the other worshipers. They've been there ever since. His mom participates in the choir. And his dad is frequently there as a greeter at the door just waiting to shake your hand and tease you. His younger brother has found a home with the wonderful youth group we have as well. They are a part of our church family.
"See, you do make a difference! You had your part in Mark and his family being here. Just keep going!" were the words I heard God shouting to me when our pastor shared that story. I melted into tears. Isn't that just like our God, drawing people to Himself one life at a time? He's numbered every hair on our heads, even if we've lost most of it to cancer treatment! He cares deeply for each life He's created. And all He requires of us is to do the same.
Sometimes we get so weighed down by the hugeness of life's challenges that we forget the Father just wants us to do the little things that make a big difference to another human soul. If we each do our own small part to love another person, it glorifies God. And in turn, that person does the same for the next person in need. My pastor's part was unwittingly sharing a story that encouraged me deeply on Sunday. Surely, if I'm persistently obedient in what God's telling me to do, I'll be doing the same thing for others.