Twenty-five years ago, I heard the words that changed my life forever: "your child has Down Syndrome."
Five little words, but each was heavy with importance.
In the weeks to come, they were followed by more words that ranged from "developmentally delayed" to "needs heart surgery" to words that define what the world considers to be "normal." To say we were shocked would be the understatement of the century. I had done all of the "right" things during my pregnancy. And even tho I was a Christian, and believed that God had a plan for my life that was bigger than anything I could imagine on my own, I still kind of thought that if I did 'A' and 'B'...then God would naturally do 'C' and all would be well in my Kingdom of Bliss. In case you don't know...it doesn't work that way!
I know that I studied about Down Syndrome in my college classes, but I'm sure I totally glossed over it. Things like that would not exist in my little fairy-tale world. In fact, before Joshua was born, Jim and I took a parenting class with 11 other couples. During the first meeting, our instructor had us fill out a questionnaire about our expectations of labor and delivery. One of the questions was a fill-in-the-blank: "I hope my baby is ......." I put "cute!" 23 other people put "normal." Some things never even crossed my mind.
But I believed that God was sovereign, even if I didn't fully understand what that meant at the time. I knew He had a plan for Joshua, and for us...and a reason for everything. I decided that I didn't have all the answers, but I was going to trust God anyway. On the Sunday morning of Joshua's baby dedication, there was not a dry eye in the house. I watched as the pastor held him up in front of the congregation and said, "God don't make no junk." He was a person who tried very hard to speak properly at all times, so for him to say it like that was very out-of-character, and we all understood what he was trying to say.
I think when difficulties come into our lives, we have a tendency to hope that God will step in at the last minute and save the day. We talked about that in Sunday School this week...the story of Abraham, who, in obedience, took off up the mountain with a load of fire-wood...trusting God and willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac...but God stepped in and provided a substitute for the offering.
Is it just me, or do we all look for the ram in the thicket?
You know, the miracle that God sends in the nick of time that saves us from having to endure any hardship. The "oops! that diagnosis was wrong," or "your tests are normal" or "we can't explain it but your body appears to have healed itself." Wouldn't our praise of God be great then? Wouldn't the glory of the Lord surely be seen and acknowledged? And millions would come to know Him because of His mighty works?
I think, YES!
But I'm not God. Sometimes there is no ram in the thicket, but that doesn't mean God isn't still mighty to save...or that He doesn't care when we hurt. It's just that our ways are not His ways (Isaiah 55:8) and there are just some things we won't understand this side of Heaven.
I am very thankful for my man/child with the almond-shaped eyes. He turns 25 years old today! He encourages and inspires me daily. His love of God is deep and pure. His understanding of the Scriptures amazes me. He is sensitive and funny. He is innocent and wise, strong and stubborn. He has taught me patience, hope, faith. I appreciate the little things in life because I have watched him struggle to achieve them. I am a better mother because of him...not better than anyone else, just better than maybe I would've been. He's taught me not to take myself too seriously. He sings when he wants to and prays when he wants to. Because studies show that shorter days are possible, I cherish each moment...thankful to know the One who wrote Joshua's days of life before he was even conceived (Psalm 139:16). I hope when all is said and done, that we've been worthy of this calling. It's our desire that our lives glorify God...that the way we live and love and parent will point others to Christ. We've blown it more times that we can count but we are thankful for the grace and mercy God shows us each day.
Read these words from Hillsong..."a thousand times I've failed, still Your mercies remain; should I stumble again, still I'm caught in Your grace."
As a young mom, I wondered if God knew what He was doing...giving us this precious, sweet child. Jim and I had NO clue what we were even supposed to do. The best advice came from our friend, Karen Alexander (Doyel), who simply said, "just love him."
JUST. LOVE. HIM.
Perfect. I can do that!
Today is not about me, or Jim, or any of the hundreds of people who have joined and supported and encouraged us on this journey. It's about a child...born innocent and sweet (and "cute")...who has grown into a man who loves God, and life. We celebrate him today. Happy Birthday, Joshua!
John 9:1-3 "And as He (Jesus) passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?' Jesus answered and said, 'it was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him."
Soli Deo gloria!