Jordon is a wisher, wishing for anything that would make his life more enjoyable, from cooler weather (he works outside) to getting cool lawnmowers and robots.
But this most recent wish he voiced really caught my attention.
“I wish Dad had never gone on his mission trips. Then he wouldn’t have Hansen’s disease.”
How do you tell a black-and-white concrete thinker that sometimes obedience to God’s plan doesn’t always look good in the now? That this is a (long) chapter in a bigger book that has a greater purpose than we can imagine? And just because Jordon has autism, it doesn’t mean that we all don’t have that black and white reasoning part that says if we do what is right, then good things will happen – applause, medals, rewards. If we do what is wrong, then bad things will happen – penalties, punishment, loss. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work? Cause and effect. It is very clearly underlying the thinking and counsel of Job’s friends, who were examples of voicing conclusions we all naturally draw.
How do I help Jordon, who totally depends upon his senses for all his conclusions, to process that God is good – ALL the time, whether we have a glimpse into His plan or not? That faith requires us looking beyond what we see or feel or taste or touch – that it is a spiritual sense, not a physical sense God calls us to rely on? He is using his God-given brain to reason these things, his God-given compassion for his dad to feel deeply these things. I want God-given faith and discernment to guide him.
Yes, Jordon, I can understand that wish. Truly I do. In the night when I hear Dad tossing from pain, I, too have wondered what it would be like had he not gone. When I have to explain once again and again what his symptoms are, where he got them, and, no, he is not contagious, I have wondered. But we can’t go backwards and wish things away. Even if we could, I believe Dad would make the same choices, because they weren’t made by relying on his senses, but relying on his God and his faith – a decision made in his heart of obedience.
Sometimes there are undesirable consequences to an act of obedience and righteousness – people get fired, lose limbs or even life, receive persecution, etc., because they acted upon their Spirit-led promptings and beliefs. We expect medals for heroes, but that is not always the case. In fact, we are seeing it more and more in the news that good people try to step up and yet receive penalties for their faith and goodness. But our God keeps track of every act made on behalf of Him.
God has a whole different time frame than we do, and He promises to honor and reward obedience. And He always keeps His word. It might be sooner (don’t we wish) or later – but it is always kept. Your dad (and I) would rather suffer consequences for doing what is right, than suffer the consequences of disobedience. Life is risky by nature, but it is always a sure thing to depend on God, and absolutely always much riskier to go our own way. If somehow Dad could have seen ahead and known the implications on his health, our family, work, etc., it would have been much more difficult to make the decision, knowing it would impact each of us. Knowing it would limit his times of fun with you. That’s probably a good reason God shields us from knowing what’s ahead and promises that He will be with us no matter what.
So I don’t know the consequences if he had disobeyed the call of God. Would life have the same meaning? Would we have gained what we have, despite the persistent pain and the loss? Or would we have lost something even more precious and dear? Somehow, I think so. There may be a cost to obedience, but there are also rewards that far outweigh it. However, there are greater costs to disobedience and haunting lifetime regrets that make people toss and turn and lose sleep. The emotional pain and spiritual cost can be relentless. My son, courage is choosing the right path, despite the consequences. I don’t know if it takes more courage to have eyes open or to face the unknown, but no matter what, courage requires a heart to follow the right path, feet stepping out in faith.
I know you like reassurance as to what will happen and I cannot give that to you. I do know we are no longer in what we thought was Plan A or even Plan B. We don’t know the next step. There is no going back. There’s a lot we don’t know. But instead of this filling you with anxiety and sadness, let me remind you about what we do know.
There is NO doubt we are still in God’s plan, we are still walking in faith, we are still knowing with spiritual senses that He has a purpose greater than we can know. And that it will turn out for good. That it will move us forward. I cannot answer when or where or even why – but I can answer Who. And because of this great God, we can remain steadfast. And we can rest in His promises.
There is much we cannot do, but there is much we CAN do. We can still keep a tender and thankful heart. We can still set our hearts beyond what is seen. What is seen is temporary, broken, and lacking but what is unseen is actually the REAL place where we find purpose, peace, wisdom, strength, grace. We can use this to form our spiritual eyes of faith and pursue a heart for God; we can use it to deepen compassion for others who are also in a place of loss or pain, and pray for them from this place of knowing. It is a sacred place.
And we can look for God’s goodness, and point it out to one another. We all need these reminders. Because it is always there. God’s design is for us to walk through trials – to triumph.
When I go down the path of thinking the wish that you expressed, I hum this song.
God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don’t understand,
When you can’t see His plan
When you can’t trace His hand
TRUST HIS HEART
It kind of all trickles down to this: Love God. Trust and obey Him. Let your days be ruled by showing kindness and speaking truth. In all things take courage, knowing He, a good and purposeful God, is with you. And loves you with a forever love.
As do I,