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On September 27, 2016, WalletHub came out with their analysis, "2016’s Best & Worst Cities for People with Disabilities." This study examined 25 metrics, categorized into 3 areas: Economy, Quality of Life, and Health Care. The results were enlightening to be sure. And based on the outcome of what this data reveals, parents like us can be left feeling stressed about our locality.
In my leadership journey, I have found myself surprised more than once by meeting families who have relocated from a beachy, tropical climate to our frigid northern woods. Why would you leave a seeming paradise to suffer the long, dark winters of the frozen tundra? Typically, if relocation isn't due to a job change, it is more than likely because of our area's renown for certain therapies or health care. My heart always hurts for these families. It must be awful to have such frustrating care (or lack thereof) that you feel compelled to pull up stakes and completely relocate. Yet, sometimes this is absolutely necessary for those who bravely make the move.
At the same time, while the information provided in the aforementioned type of analysis can be helpful, our hearts need to be guarded. Whether we are able to move to the best possible location for our child's needs or not, there is an ultimate location that transcends anywhere we could be on earth.
Here are the 3 BEST places GOD intends for a special needs family to live:
- In the palm of His hand - “Could a mother forget a child who nurses at her breast? Could she fail to love an infant who came from her own body? Even if a mother could forget, I will never forget you. A picture of your city is drawn on my hand. You are always in my thoughts!" (Isaiah 49:15-16, CEV) No matter where we call "home," knowing how intimately we are loved by our Maker ought to give us great comfort. Since we are in the palm of His hand, anything that touches us has to touch Him first. He is with us through it all. We are not abandoned. Every detail of our lives and situations are of concern to Him. What a blessing to realize that He is holding us close regardless of location! That tender relationship we are invited into with Jesus gives new meaning to the phrase, "Home is wherever you are."
- On the move for His kingdom - "So wherever you go, make disciples of all nations: Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to do everything I have commanded you. And remember that I am always with you until the end of time." (Matthew 28:19-20, GW) Having challenges with our children doesn't exempt us from the Great Commission. In fact, our trials are an incredible platform that God can and does use to help spread the Good News. When people see us trusting God through tears, praising Him in life's storms, and grateful for our Savior despite having every reason to be bitter, it makes them stand up and take notice. The world is HUNGRY for something positive that transcends circumstances. We are living in the best place possible when we are on the move, spreading the gospel, no matter where that may be.
- With an expectant heavenward focus - "My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too. You know the way to the place I’m going.” (John 14:2-4, CEB) In this messy, broken, dysfunctional world, what a relief to know that this is not our final destination! Everything we do, everywhere we go, should be guided by an eternal perspective. We don't always have to win arguments with the school staff or medical professionals. God sees. Regardless of our circumstances here, we are the ultimate winners in heaven. Sweating the small stuff should increasingly become a thing of the past. Heavenly-minded people don't allow themselves to be overcome by the worries of this world because it is a temporary location. And our permanent address is better than anything we could ever imagine. Our humble abode here will be exchanged for the mansion Jesus is building for us in eternity.