Wednesday, November 17, 2010


In the spring, I did a Beth Moore Bible study at church called "The Inheritance." One of the major themes of the study was that our life experiences are part of our inheritance from God, just as much a part as our talents, our physical possessions and so on. We can picture them as a field, and the question is, what will we do with it? While not everything that happens to us originated from God, it can all be redeemed. Do we have the courage to face those things, to overcome evil with good? Will we take the field we've been given, even the rocky, thorny parts, and allow it to be transformed into something beautiful and fruitful?

After the study I felt compelled to write our pastor a letter. This might not seem like a big deal, but to me it was. We go to a big church. I don't really know the pastors and the few interactions I've had with them have been quite formal. And to be honest, I have a hard time completely trusting and opening up my heart to pastors, after some bad church experiences. But there I went, gushing things out to the pastor, having no idea how he would take it. I thanked him for his ministry, and in particular for preaching about healing when he has struggled himself with a chronic health issue for years. I told him how much it had blessed me, to see his wife working during the service with a special needs child, due to my past history with pastors long ago who were insensitive to my brother's autism. And then I went all out and referenced Beth Moore's study and how I felt a part of my inheritance, of allowing God to redeem past experiences, would be help to help be a part of a special needs ministry at our church. He had just told us in a sermon a few weeks before, if we wanted to start a ministry, go for it! Don't just wait for the pastor. So I sent the letter, and then I heard nothing.

I thought about next steps. I thought about who to talk to and all of the chains of command. I spoke with a few people connected to the higher ups and heard little snippets of this and that. I wondered if the whole thing was just going to die. I knew there had been other families who had been hoping, praying for something to happen at the church for much longer than I had. Other people had the same passion and desire, other people had asked, and something was percolating, but it was hard to tell just what.

I saw the pastors at the church picnic but couldn't bring myself to bring it up. I wondered if he'd even gotten the letter, and why I had written so much, and if I wasn't just foolish. Sometimes I can be too transparent. Worse than that, I was struggling to believe the best, to not walk around with an attitude, to keep the faith. When you've had at least three pastors and churches let you down, this is harder than it sounds.

So I put it aside, or opened up those arms and let it go, at least for awhile, as I focused on Ethan and the whole preschool transition process. And then the other day I received an email from a woman at church who teaches children with autism as part of her "day job. Part of it read:

I’d like to invite you to an informational meeting regarding the beginnings of a special needs ministry at our church. As many of you know, this need has been ‘in the works’ for some time now. During this meeting I plan to listen to your hearts and ideas and share with you my vision and plans. I know that some of you have had to be very patient but I believe that the time is now and God’s blessing is on it. I’ve been able to discuss this with Pastor Dave Mullin and Pastor Dave Waite and they have extended their blessing and recognize the need.

I read the words and wanted to dance for joy, but I needed to get to my MOPS meeting. As I put Ethan in the car and started driving, I realized I was crying. Everytime I tried to stop, I kept crying. I have always been a crier, but there haven't been too many times in life that I haven't been able to stop happy crying.

I couldn't help it. As I drove down 291 in the November sunshine, I cried while so many pictures flashed in front of me. I saw my 1o-year-old self, outside Pioneer Valley up on the hill near the woods, watching Andy alone while the service went on inside. I saw Joy Church and Andy running out of the nursery and flipping off the lights on the congregation, and little hunched over sweet Grace wanting to help Andy but not being able to handle him, as time went by, and big-hearted Dennis who used to offer to help out, at New Life. I thought of Betty in the nursery at CLG, telling me about the soft spot she had for Ethan and the boy with autism she used to watch 20 years ago, who still writes her letters.

In my mind's eye I saw the wearied faces of parents of special needs kids, the woman who told me she has never left her son because he is completely non-verbal and she doesn't trust anyone to watch him, another one with four kids on the spectrum. I thought of people at the autism support group with their resigned kind of humor and acceptance and people I have never met who don't go to church or have left church because there was nothing there for their kids, especially understanding and compassion...these precious people who so desperately need a break, a revival of their spirits, and their children who so desperately need someone to see them for who they truly are.

I thought all of this, and I cried, because I was thinking with all of my heart that yes, this is what Jesus would do. This He would make a priority. And I was accepting that others do care. Others have a heart for these kids and their families. And that made my heart heal in many places.

No comments: