“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time...” Ephesians 5:15-16
Later in the morning yesterday I received a call from my sister with some bad news – our adopted brother had died unexpectedly. The reason behind his death is uncertain at this point, but the afflictions that lead to his life, and possibly his death, started over a decade ago. You see my adopted brother Robbie had been the victim of child abuse by the hands of his birth mother's boyfriend before my parents stepped in and adopted him.
Robbie pulled through the incident that almost took his life at that young age, but his life was never to be what we would call “normal”. The fact that he could not do the things that other kids could do, speak the way they spoke, or even eat the things that other people ate were not limiting factors in how he lived his life and his testimony before all those he met.
If you were to ask my parents and Robbie's caretakers to tell about the most compelling thing Robbie projected in his life they would all agree that it was the joy and laughter that emanated from him. It is hard to imagine when we “normal” people tend to get upset and loose our joy so quickly over little things like a change in our schedule, how someone who was so incumbered by his situation in life could live with so much joy that it was unmistakeable to those who were around him all the time. But, Robbie had a special connection with God and it was evident that he could perceive greater things about God than most of us around him could - at times he just seemed to be talking to God in his own special language. And, I believe that this constant and powerful connection he had was the foundation for his joy which has now carried him into a life where his joy is complete in the Savior who has now taken away every tear and every limitation that bound him here on earth.
It is hard to look at people who have bodies and minds that are not what we call “normal” and say that this is God's will for their life. It seems so cruel and awful that God would even allow his beloved children to suffer so much on this earth, and I have to agree that I too have difficulty in wrapping my thinking around how God can justify His mercy in these situations. But, as I have come to know my adopted siblings who have been dealt some difficult lots in life, I have learned that we on the outside, us “normal” people, are even more crippled than they are.
What to I mean by that statement? Well, consider this quote from Oswald Chambers:
“There is so much said today about our decisions for Christ, our determination to be Christians, our decisions for this and that, but in the New Testament it is the aspect of God's compelling that is brought out...We have no conception of what God is aiming at, and as we go on it gets more and more vague. God's aim looks like missing the mark because we are too short-sighted to see what He is aiming at.” Oswald Chambers
Those of us who are deemed “normal” seem to have a greater problem with our vision, spiritual that is, than those who do not function in mind or body as we do to see the compelling evidence and existence of God. Our determinations and decisions, as Oswald Chambers points out, focus so much on they workings of the world around us that we forget our greater calling which should compel us, the Lord Jesus Himself. God does not see the limitations of man, in any shape, form, or size, as limiting to His ability. The only thing that really limits us from the work God desires to do through us in this world is our distractions, something which the “normal” person has all the more capacity to will into following and being side-tracked with than those who are restricted from choosing more wayward paths.
We MUST stop focusing on what we see around us, and from those circumstances determine what God is doing and how we are to be involved. I know I am as guilty as the next Christian in this pattern. Instead we MUST put our trust in God and what He is doing in our life and then find Him in it, and there establish our joy in Him. If we concentrate too long on what is pulling us down and how we can get away from it so our life can look more like that of a complete Christian – one who is stable and “normal” - than we set ourselves on a path of spiritual failure. It is only when we look beyond what we can see, strain to see the God who is invisible to our eyes, and trust in the God who lives in our hearts, that the joy we all yearn for in God will be found.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
My brother Robbie did not lose heart even though his outward body was so limited and his mind was so weakened by his injury. He lived a life that made everyone around him desire something greater from within – the ability to see God in the simple and trust in His ability to work things out in this world. Robbie lived in this manner for the length that God needed him to here and earth and then was willing, at God's request, to take him home when his time here was over.
I look forward to seeing Robbie's joy in a perfected body that will be able to do things beyond "normal" and when all those hard days he endured here on earth will be but distant memories. I pray your heart, as well as mine, may be opened today to being willing to accept the greater purposes God has in your life circumstances and that you may focus on God as He stands before you asking you to trust in His judgment and find joy in His will.