Monday, January 13, 2014

What Are You Doing Here?

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"I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail."
(Lamentations 3:19-22, NIV)

I have been here before and I recognize this cave.

Many is the night I have slept on its cold hard floors staring into the darkness.

I have rubbed my hands on its clammy walls not sure what I was feeling. I have tripped and fallen so many times while stumbling around in this cave.

I have curled up like a ball in the corner looking for any source of light.

It’s the autism cave.

The autism cave looks just like the cerebral palsy cave.

And I am familiar with both of them. They are stifling, dark, lonely caves where you feel like you can’t breath or find your way out. You sense the walls closing in on you.

I know the terrain. I know where the stalagmites are. I come here a lot. You may too from time to time.

And so you curl up, you sit, and you cry to yourself. You peer out sometimes looking for hope, looking for light, looking for reason. You wallow in its deepest pit and you let its grime cover your emotions.

You feel all alone. Abandoned. Tired. Distraught. So lonely.

Another year has ended, and another year has begun. But nothing else changed.

This year still more parents will find the cave. They will learn of a diagnosis, a rare disease, a special need.

They will utter those words we all remember, “What does that mean?”

Search engines will fire up. New terms and diagnosis will be researched. Thousands of parents will make a an appointment with "Dr. Google."

Tears will be shed. Dreams will die. Lives will be altered forever.

Then many of them will come to the cave.

There is a beautiful story in scripture about the prophet Elijah. Elijah finds himself afraid, in despair, and feeling all alone- so he hides in a cave.

The Lord comes to the edge of the cave, and says to Elijah, “What are you doing here?”

You can almost visualize God gesturing with his hand, and then stretching out his arm to pull Elijah out of the cave.

So many new parents are going to come to the caves this year. The cluster of caves known as autism, cerebral palsy, seizures, medically fragile, hemophilia, Downs…there are so many caves.

They are going to want to wallow in the muck and the stench of despair. They are going to want to sit and never leave. They just will feel like there is no hope.

But hope must never die. Hope must never end. Sometimes hope is all you have.
And when hope is all you have, hope is still enough.

As the prophet said, “this one thing I know…and this gives me hope. The steadfast love of God never ends.”

God comes after us when we go the cave, just like he did with Elijah. And God will stretch out his hand into the cave for you, me, and all the other special needs parents.

And God will look into the cave and offer us his hand of hope to pull us out.

When my son was younger and we would have storms at night, sometimes the power would go out while the thunder and lightning raged.

I knew he would be scared, confused, afraid, and feel alone. Because of his mobility issues and being non-verbal, he couldn’t cry out for help or even run to find us for comfort.

So I would go to him. I would go over to his bed, and in the dark, I would stretch out my hand for him to find me.

I would feel his little hand, as he followed my voice. He would stretch out his arm and take my hand.

Because no storm is ever too great, and no cave is ever too deep or dark, when you know where to reach for your Father’s outstretched hand.

PRAY: "Father I thank you that you go into the caves and into the pits and you rescue us. You are our hope, our rescuer, and our sustainer. Thank you for finding us."

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