Monday, January 27, 2014
If You Knew
(Photo Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org)
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13, NIV)
She waited to leave home until she was sure most people had already returned home from getting the day’s food and drink needs. Given her circumstances, going out in public was just something she found difficult and awkward to do.
She was embarrassed, and yet hated herself for feeling that way. She would have been perfectly happy to just stay in her isolated home and avoid the crowd altogether. They pointed at her as they whispered behind her back. They muttered and gossiped.
Her home was her safe haven. Her home was where she felt the least vulnerable and the most protected. But her home was also her prison.
Her life circumstances made her different from the others. As a result when the other women would engage socially, laughing and talking as they went about their daily basis, she sat home by herself and waited. She didn’t feel they would really understand or grasp her situation. It made her feel like an outcast. She hadn’t planned on her life turning out this way, but it had happened. The challenges and the trials had taken a toll on her.
So she was waiting. Waiting for enough courage to leave. Waiting for the right moment. Waiting until she felt it was safe. Waiting until no one else was around to notice. Waiting until she didn’t have to look anyone in the eye.
But mostly she was waiting for hope. Waiting for someone to make sense of all this to her. Waiting for an explanation of how this could possibly be God’s choosing for her life. Waiting for someone to please show her meaning, significance, and fulfillment given the challenges and circumstances of her life. Waiting for someone to tell her how to find sense and joy despite her difficulties.
“Is this all there is to my life,” she may have wondered. “Is this as good as it gets? What good could ever come out of this experience?”
Have you as a parent of a child with special needs ever wondered that yourself? Have you ever felt like the woman in the story I just detailed? Have you ever cried for an explanation from God or searched for meaning in this journey as a parent of a child with special needs? Have your struggled with your role in the story of your life?
Seeing by the sun that the time was right, she slipped out with her bucket and headed to the well. At that moment she realized that her soul was thirstier than her body. And she ached to satisfy that never-ending quench.
All the other people drew their water from the well in the early morning hours. So as she carefully approached the well in the noontime heat, she was startled to see a strange man sitting beside the well.
She averted her eyes, preferring to do her business quickly and concisely. She didn’t want him to speak to her and she certainly didn’t expect him to initiate a conversation with her.
“Will you give me a drink?”
She looked up and blinked rapidly. “Was he talking to me?”
He looked her right in the eyes. Nobody ever did that to her. Nobody ever searched her eyes and soul like this stranger. She glanced away in shock and defensively blurted out the first thing to come to her mind, “why are you asking me for a drink?”
“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water, the stranger said.
“If you knew the gift...” The words echoed in her mind.
"If you knew the gift...”
When we learned of my son’s profound special needs, I went through a season of not just questioning God, but of expressing my anger, frustration, and rage at Him every day.
I would rail against the God I thought I had known all my life in my bitterness and despair. At night I would walk from our house to a nearby little creek by a willow tree for my tirades.
And then one night, in the stillness and calmness between my eruptions, the sweet Spirit of God nudged a door open in my heart and said, “I have given you a blessing, what you do to it is up to you.”
“I have given you a blessing…”
“If you knew the gift…”
Sixteen years later I can say that this unexpected journey as a special needs parent has been excruciatingly difficult, brutally hard, and incredibly draining. It’s been more challenging than I could have ever realized.
But it’s also been an incredible blessing and an amazing gift.
“If you knew the gift,” said the voice of God to the woman at the well in the fourth chapter of John.
“I have given you a blessing,” said the same voice of God to the man at the creek by the willow tree.
There is living water for all of us. Drink furiously and lustily of His water and never thirst again.
I beg you to stop by the well and drink today.
When you feel the darkness threatening to engulf you; when you feel discouraged; when you feel all alone and desperate for a glimpse of hope; when the hurt won’t go away and the weariness overcomes you; drink deeply from His well and quench your thirst.
Labels: autism, blessing, cerebral palsy, challenges, disability, gift, Jeff Davidson, John 4, living water, special needs, special needs parenting, suffering, thirst, trials, woman at the well
Author of "No More Peanut Butter Sandwiches: a father, a son with special needs, and their journey with God."