Last week I shared about our (handicapped) son Chris, and his great but child-like faith.
There is a certain amount of peace in my heart knowing the Lord spoke to him and told him that He would 'walk through the mountains' with him. The peace in our hearts allows Barb and I to endure the management of Chris' life both at home and his group home. He lived at home his first 24 years, but after his brothers grew up and moved on to school and marriage we realized Barb and I could not care for him on our own. So we made the most difficult decision in our lives, to place him in a group home, then moved closer to him to remain involved in his life. In December he will be 39 as of this writing, though mentally he is about 4 years old, but with the ability to take in and understand more than that mental age would suggest.
If you have ever cared for someone long term you can relate to our lives. There are the happy and care free Fridays where Chris and I run errands around town: I pick him up at his group home about 8am, shower and shave him, and out we go, usually to Sonic, a regional fast food drive-in restaurant. Once we push the button after we pulled in to 'our' stall, #21, Melissa the manager greets the push of the button with 'Hi John and Chris', and we always answer back...and so the day begins like that, people knowing us all over town.
About 4pm we head home where Barb has prepared a meal for the evening....and Saturday morning I get Chris into a bath, then he watches TV while I fix a big breakfast; he loves dad's 'cheese eggs' which are nothing more than scrambled eggs with cheese, but at the group home his standard breakfast is cereal, so it's a weekly treat. Most of Saturday is spent watching his favorite movies or tv shows - the only time of the week he can control where he goes, what he does, what he eats, what he watches on tv - the group home setting means others decide all those things.
We have fun together and he makes us laugh - and is used of the Lord. I've shared how one morning I was in a bit of a pity party internally and silently brooding as I was asking the Father how I can take care of Chris 2 days a week, do all I need to do with cwowi, travel, maintain a home and such, and generally feeling sorry for myself. I concluded my complaint to the Father with an internal 'What am I, a beast of burden?' At that moment I was kneeling down in front of Chris putting on his socks, and just then he patted me on the head and said, "You're a good horse." Message received Father. Change my attitude and mood and stop feeling sorry for myself. LOL.
That's what people know and see - John and Chris around town
But what people don't see are the meetings at the group home. The emails and calls with staff. Last week it was about adjusting his portions for meals as they are watching his weight. The week before it was scheduling an annual eye appointment. The week before it was taking him to the hospital for lab work. This week they want him to go to a sedation dentist that we've gone to before as it's been 2 years since his last cleaning (he has to be knocked out for it as he won't put up with dental work) but it's $1500 we have to save up for and plan, and on it goes...continual care.
And eople don't see the other side of brain damage, whether that damage is from birth or war, car accident or fall, brain injury people don't like sudden changes to what they are doing. Loud noises, changes in schedule or direction, often leads to an immediate and violent reaction - yelling, hitting, throwing whatever is in his hand or nearby, biting, extreme behavior. Then once that tension is released, they are humble, apologetic, and back to their normal loving self. That is Chris. That is life with Chris.
I can't count the times I've been hit, slapped, bitten, scratched, had his nails dug into my flesh as he squeezes as hard as he can, had him yell and take a swing at me when simply rolling down a store aisle and unexpectedly I back up or change direction - that behavior is from brain injury.
Why am I sharing this?
Because while Chris (and we) have the promise that one day the Lord will walk through the mountains with Chris, until then we have the above to deal with, for the rest of ours, or the rest of his life, or until that healing happens. And the Lord knows this. The Lord saw this when He gave the promise. Yet still our lives with him are a constant burden and joy.
Even at his group home we wonder; What is Chris doing now? Is he warm? Does he need to go to the bathroom? Is he hungry, is he behaving himself, what kind of week will they say he has had when I pick him up on Friday? No matter where I am in the world, Chris is always, always, in the back of my mind. He is basically a 4 year old being cared for by others who can never do as good a job as Barb and I can. (As I said, he is almost 39 years old).
Yet the Lord knows this. The Father knows this. The Lord gave Chris the finished vision, the mature and complete promise: I will walk through the mountains with you. But between now and then is a whole lot of burden, anguish, and emotional toll to be paid by him and us. Yet his positive attitude is a joy, an inspiration to us. An example for us.
In II Peter 1: 3-4 Peter says this:
"...as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness....by which we have been given exceedingly great and precious promises, that by these we might be partakers of His divine nature..."
Did you catch that? He gave us great promises that we might be partakers of His divine nature. That statement is 100% opposite of every Word of Faith, Charismatic, Seeker Friendly, Evangelical and any other label we might put on a 'stream' of faith: The promises are given so we can be partakers of His nature.
Not to have answered prayer. Not to give us the desires (or lusts) of our heart. Not to give us our dream (fill in the blank; home, car, job, spouse, vacation, bank account, etc). But the promises are given that we might partake in His nature.
We see the receiving of a promise from Him as answered prayer to a need or desire. He issues those promises to us so we can grow in Him. Both are true, both are required. One is earth looking up to heaven, the other is heaven looking down to earth. He calls the shots, He is God. He issues a promise that we might become like Him. That's 1st priority.
He gives the complete vision, the mature and beautiful end result - but getting there requires becoming a partaker of His divine nature. Every promise issued requires growth to see fulfillment no matter when that fulfillment comes: This life or the next.
Settle that in your heart. Change your perspective in your heart to look for how you can grow as you stand on the promise He gave you, as you look with expectation for its fulfillment. Realize every promise has a condition, and that condition will always involve change in character towards godliness.
Next week about apparent contradictions in His promises and gaps in our time line of life...until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at email@example.com