I listened to the message and found myself challenged and convicted. The text was in John where Jesus tells His disciples that He is going away and they can not come with Him. I don't know about you; but I forget sometimes as I read the text and see Peter's response that they did not know the future. They did not know exactly what Jesus was telling them. They did not know how the story was going to unfold. (Just like me in my life right now. God talks to me, He leads me; but I don't know how it is all going to work out.)
I was reminded of this fact in the message. I was put in Peter's shoes and made to understand what Peter was feeling when he heard the Lord say that He was going to leave and Peter could not come with Him. Then, as I listened to the message the text came alive to me. Jesus' words to Peter as I told His disciple that not only could he not go where Jesus was going; he also would fail Christ and make mistakes (some pretty big ones!). Yet, as I listened to the message, I was challenged with Jesus' words to Peter and the other disciples. "I go to prepare a place for you." As Pastor was preaching, I was made aware of the text and the full meaning of Jesus' words to His followers. It was as if Jesus was saying to His disciples, "Not only am I "preparing a place for you" - I am preparing you for that place.You will mess up, you will fail; you will have trials; but they are preparing you for the place I have am preparing for you.
I had never seen it before! Never. He is preparing me for Heaven. As I walk through life it is a preperation for that place. Heaven is my home. Not this world. (I forget that sometimes.) The trials of life are preparing me for the place. Oh, salvation gives me eternal life; but sanctification allows me to "know Him"; so that when I see Him face to face; I will already truly know Him - personally!
I had grown weary of the journey. I was looking at life as all that there was. That my whole life would be filled with trouble and trials. I was discouraged. The particular trial looked too hard, too long. Have you ever had a trial that you knew would not be over soon?
Having a child with Autism and with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is a trial that will never end. (I hate saying that my son is a trial - and that is not the case; the abnormalities that afflict his brian are the trial.) Everyday there are repeated corrections. The same corrections that I have given since he was three. There are days when it seems there has been no progress. There are days when his emotions do not display love. There are outbursts. There are people who in ignorance blame parenting for the behavior. There are teachers who call to report behaviour that is less than acceptable. (I hate those conversations! I have them often.) Those conversations, done frequently, can make you feel like there is no use, no progress, completly defeted.
The trial goes on.
Then I listened to the message. The trials of life are preparing me for the Place. I am learning the Language of Heaven which is love.
"Love beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never fails."
The problem is not autism.
The problem is not Fetal Alchol Syndrome.
The problem is me.
It's a love problem. I am not loving the way God would love. I am not allowing Christ's love to flow through me to him.
As I am sitting in the pew and listening to the message the Holy Spirit speaks clearly to my heart. "Autism is my way of preparing you for the place. The fact that Autism and FAS affects your everyday life, day in and day out, is not a mistake or an accident. They are blessings. They are My tools to prepare you. When you adopted Zak I knew I would allow his adoption to teach you about when I adopted you into My family! Autism and FAS are teaching you the language of Heaven. They are your teachers - teaching you to love as I have loved you. They are the avenues in which you will learn that you cannot; but I can!"
I started seeing things from a different perspective. A more spiritual perspective. His perspective. Autism and FAS take life out of my control. They make me weak. They leave me with questions for which I have no answers. They bring me to situations where I can give and give and see nothing in return for it.
They bring me to the end of myself - over and over again. Exactly where I need to be to see His strength.
So, as I reread the passage again, "Let not your heart be troubled..." I realized that God's blessings come often in the most unique packages. For me: Autism and FAS. These two 'gifts' are from God as constant reminders that I can not live this life on my own.
I have prayed, as Paul did, for these thorns to be taken from me. I have begged God to heal Zak's brain, to make him 'normal'. (I have, unlike Paul, asked God far more than three times!). Yet, His response has been the same to me as it was to Paul. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness..."
Weakness makes me depend upon His strength and in my utter helplessness He is able to live His life through me.
Thank you, God for Autism. Thank you, God for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome!