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Posts Tagged ‘Helpful things’

Dianne’s post yesterday on Pastor John’s reading of a poem highlighted several things that are helpful for parents of children with disabilities:

  1. We still long for and love beautiful things.  The intensity and the chaos and feelings of being overwhelmed by everything that is associated with disability do not (entirely) crowd out our appreciation for soul-enriching nourishment that comes from art and music and books and good conversation.
  2. The Holy Spirit is powerful in his ability to use things like God-centered poetry to make much of God and help us see who God really is.  I believe the key words here are ‘God-centered.’
  3. Dianne was touched by it because she was able to hear the sermon!  This meant that somebody else was caring for Paul at that moment.   The love and care provided to us as parents when people care for our children, as highlighted here, allows for many other important things to happen.

We should not be surprised that God would provide such good gifts.  The writer of Ecclesiastes embeds this powerful and wonderful statement about God, beauty, creation, and sovereignty as he teaches:

(God) has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. Ecclesiastes 3:11-14

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Guest Post from Dianne Knight:

Pastor John read this poem during a sermon.  When I first heard it I cried because it made me think of how God is really in control of everything and how he loves us personally and acts in our lives specifically and for specific reasons. Also, because of this poem I learned a bit about Martha Snell Nicholson, the author, and her life story is very inspiring too.

The Thorn
(a “mendicant” is a beggar)

I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”
He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”
I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.

–Martha Snell Nicholson

(Note: This poem was read during Pastor John’s 2001 Sermon, “To Be a Mother is a Call to Suffer.“)

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One of the children I referenced yesterday has grown up, completed college, successfully started her chosen career, and serves us by being a regular Disability Aid for Paul at church.  This allows Dianne and I to go to worship together.  This young woman has done so for at least seven years, and possibly longer because I’ve lost track.

She practices extreme patience with us.  There have been countless times over those years when something came up at the last minute – generally a child not feeling well – and we didn’t (or neglected to) call or email her.

She has never once complained about our behavior, even though we know it has inconvenienced her more than once.  And she loves our boy, who also never objects to going to church when she is with him. It is very sweet to see them together.

Like her parents, she treasures Jesus above everything, and she wants us to do so as well.  So, she puts up with us.  And God has used her to build up our faith, our endurance, and our trust in him.  I am grateful to God for her!

Most of all, she lives out 1 Peter 4:8-9 for the Knight family:

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

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Many years ago, some people who became very precious friends entered into a very dark place – my wife’s and my life.  We were bitter, scared, overwhelmed, and discouraged following the birth and subsequent care of our boy with multiple disabilities. It was the time when we gave up on God and the church.

This couple did many wonderful things for us in the strength God provided them, and one of the most important things they did was include their children.

Their children had been taught very well about God’s good creation, and they also had been taught very well about how to care for and enjoy babies.

So, while I would sit at their dinner table, arguing with their dad about how God in fact was not good and not right and not helpful and most certainly bad, and capricious and cruel, their children played with my baby boy.

They treated him like a baby boy. They figured out things that made him laugh.  They sang songs to them.  They made funny noises.  These four children surrounded that one child and actually enjoyed him.  Very few people actually showed any enjoyment in Paul.  Most people were a little frightened of him. Not these kids, ages 9 to 16 if I remember corrrectly.

God was at work in those four children as they played.  Even in the intensity of those early months of Paul’s life, God was using their sweet, simple enjoyment to prevent my stoney heart from becoming entirely hard, or, more likely, to begin softening it.

I realize this can’t always happen, and as parents we need to be careful about who is playing with our children.  These were unusual young people.  They had spent a lot of time with and were entirely comfortable with babies with a good understanding what was appropriate and what wasn’t, and I knew that.  My Paul also was not medically fragile, as so many children with diseases or disabilities are.

But when possible, there is something precious about older children playing with younger children that God uses to reveal who he is.  And I know it also made their own mother and father happy as well, and proved Proverbs 20:7 true:

The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him!

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