I spent the evening with my brother-in-law and some of the guys from church at the PromiseKeeper’s rally. There was a lot of singing and shouting followed by a prayer call. Incidentally, it is an amazing sound to hear 10,000 men shouting to the Lord. We decided to head down to the stage to do some praying. I wasn’t ready for what actually happened. I was greeted by a LARGE gentleman wearing something like a biker vest displaying Harley-Davidson and other motorcycle club patches of all kinds. I’ve heard it said that religion is for people who don’t want to go to hell and Christianity is for people that have been there. This guy definately had the look of someone who’d been to hell and back. If I’d seen him on the street I probably would have crossed over to the opposite sidewalk rather than walk past a guy like this. He walked up next to me and put a big paw on my shoulder and asked, “Can I pray for you, brother?” I agreed because that’s what I had gone down there for and also he was huge, I didn’t want to offend him. What I heard proceed from his mouth floored me. It was perhaps the most genuine and heartfelt prayer I had ever heard from anyone. He prayed for God’s intervention on my behalf, he asked that God bless me, he asked that God renew my heart and make the man I was intended to be.
From that night on I felt a renewal inside my heart. I was determined to be a better husband to my wife and father to my children. I began to see how I had almost abandoned my responsibility as a father. I began to see just how close my marriage was to dissolving. However, the Holy Spirit began to move within me allowing me to care more for my wife and children. I took a basin of warm water and washed my wife’s feet and told her I was going to become the man she deserved to be married to. I even washed my children’s feet. They didn’t understand the full meaning of it, but they really enjoyed getting their feet washed and tickled by a newly interested dad. In God’s good time the Holy Spirit had renewed me.
I began to realize that God was trying to work through my son to restore my wife and I. In fact, I only came to the full realization of what my son has done for our family just the other night. My daughter made a comment to the effect that she wished her brother wasn’t autistic. I thought about what to say to her for a day and then the realization came to me that God had in fact redeemed our family through my son. Without my son, my wife and I may have divorced. Without my son, we would never have returned to church. Without my son, my wife would not have quit her job to stay home to take care of the children. Without my son, my wife would have never thought about home schooling. Without my son, we would not be the family that we are today.
I am not the father I should be. I don’t help my wife with the schooling of our children as much as I should. But I am much closer to what I should be because of God’s redemptive work in my life and I’m getting closer all the time. I don’t see my son as annoying or inconvenient any longer. I see him as the unique human God created him to be. My son is not mind-blind as the experts sometimes say. He loves, he laughs, he has a distinctive sense of humor, he even thinks I’m funny sometimes. He has a complete and childlike faith in God at the age of 14. He has no desire to be away from his family. He enjoys the companionship of his church family. He develops crushes from time to time. He loves his sister, his mother, and yes, even me. He is my son, and I love him.
God is sovereign. Who can deny this? From before all time He ordained that I, my wife, my son, and all things should exist in exactly the way we perceive them. I have finally learned that my son was made the way he is for God’s good pleasure and purpose. I believe the redemption of my family was only a slight diversion in my son’s purpose in life. I am certain that God created my son the way he is for a distinct purpose. I only hope that God allows me to witness His perfect work as made manifest through my son.
And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
If you are a parent or relative of a child who is struggling with Autism, don’t despair! Stick it out, be patient, pray for your child. Do not pray for a cure, there is none, they are who they are. Pray that you will come to understand your child, to value your child, to help your child understand the world around them. Then, when you have learned to appreciate your child for what they are, to accept that child, you will see your child’s true beauty and strength and value. You have been blessed! Thank God for you will see His power perfected in weakness.