Monday, December 29, 2014
Called to Good Works
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 ESV
This was one of the first verses of Scripture that I learned as a new believer. In tandem with the verses preceding it, it’s a reminder that salvation is all of Christ, all of grace. As his workmanship, God displays his works in us and through us. We’re saved to walk a path of God-ordained good works as part of our maturation in Christ. There is an immediate conception in my mind as to what that looks like: it’s in acts of service to the Body of Christ, the sharing of my faith, and acts of mercy. It’s natural to make the association with one’s gifts and proclivities, but how does this verse relate to parenting a child with special needs? Rarely have I given this thought.
As a mother to sons, including a child on the autism spectrum, my life is very much centered in the home and on my children’s needs. It’s hard and important work, and all that is entailed in caring for and educating a child with a disability can feel overwhelming. Even so, I have yearnings outside of that role—an escape to even more work. So often at this time of the year, then, I have been tempted to recount abandoned resolutions, projects started and left incomplete, targets aimed for and unreached. Each year, I fall into the twin laments of unachieved goals set for my child with special needs, and unrealized pursuits of greater works and ministry. This year, though, I am finding an answer to those regrets in this unlikely verse of Scripture.
It has been easy to fall into the trap of seeing caregiving as a detour from or obstacle to a higher calling (and I recognize a similar struggle in friends). But to apprehend the Lord’s sovereignty over the paths of our lives, including the entrance of disability into our stories, is to come to understand our care for our loved ones with disabilities as part of the good works uniquely ordained for us. To understand his grace not only in salvation, but also in the working out of our faith—it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure—is to live with fewer regrets. Regardless of what is left unaccomplished of my agenda, his will has and will be accomplished through and in me.
Martin Luther said of our vocations in life, “What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. For what we do in our calling here on earth in accordance with his word and command he counts as if it were done in Heaven for him.” For some, ministries and spectacular works are birthed out of our disability stories and experiences. For most of us, though, our calling is to day-to-day faithfulness with our loved ones. In both cases, he suits us, empowers us, and rewards us for the work he gives.
At the beginning of each year, I like to review JC Philpot’s message, The Year Before Our Eyes. He opens with Deuteronomy 33:25, “As your days, so shall your strength be,” and in the piece he reminds us:
He who has brought us thus far on the road, who has so borne with our crooked manners in the wilderness and never yet forsaken us—though we have so often forsaken him—will still lead us along; will still guide and guard us, and be our God, our Father and our Friend—not only to the end of the next year, if spared to see it, but the end of our life.
This is my comfort at this close of 2014, and as I look ahead to the New Year: Despite my weaknesses and failings, I’m on a path that is preordained and the end of which is certain. This journey includes the God-empowered role as nurturer, educator, and caregiver to a young man with a disability. It is good work, it is God work, and the Lord will see it to its completion.
Prayer: Lord, clarify for us the works that you have set for us in this season. Remind us that these tasks, though finite, are of infinite worth, because they are yours. Give us contentment in them. Strengthen us to work for your glory and for the benefit of others, and use them to help us grow in grace. Amen