I shared this with our church's disability ministry's advisory panel, and I would like to share it with all of you. Someone once said that if you read the Bible with the theme of disability, you will discover a whole new side of God. And this has been the case for me.
One story in-particular really has stuck with me, and this is what I shared with the panel. It comes from Mark 2:1-12. Here is the story....
A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.
Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”
So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
There is a lot to dissect from this story, but when I read this after Ethan was diagnosed with autism, my heart immediately went out to the FOUR AMAZING MEN who were carrying the disabled man. What do we know about these men?
1. They were determined - To carry a grown man on a mat is not an easy task. How long did they walk? Where were they traveling from? I don't know, but even carrying a man on a cot down the street would take a lot of energy. These men would have to have been determined in order to accomplish this physically exhausting task.
2. They were problem solvers - When they arrived were Jesus was, they encountered an obstacle....they couldn't get through the crowd. However, this did not detour them. Instead they thought outside of the box (or door), and came up with a solution.
3. They were hard workers - Here these men has carrying this man all this way, and now they were to carry him up a set of stairs. Once on top of the roof, they essentially dug a hole in the floor to open up the home's ceiling.
4. They were desperate - They lowered this man on his cot down into a room of strangers. These men could no longer do anymore. They had to trust this man's fate into the hands of the people in room....people they probably did not know.
5. They were men of GREAT faith - These men did all of these things because they KNEW that Jesus could heal this man. They KNEW that their efforts to see Jesus would not be in vain. They KNEW that once they took this man to Jesus, he would be healed. Amazing faith.
As a person helping to develop our church's new disability ministry, I find these four men to be very inspiring. I pray that we as a team & as a church are able to do all of these things for our specific audience of people who have special needs. I pray that we are doing all we can to bring them to Jesus. I pray that we don't give up, that we think outside of the box, that we work hard, and have faith that Jesus will help to heal these families....not from the disabilities but from the wounds of the world that every single one of us have.
As a mother of a child with special needs, I pray that I begin to trust my church family to carry my child the rest of the way. I, as Ethan's mommy, have a great responsibility to show & teach Ethan all about God & his love. And I accept this responsibility. But I know that it takes more than one person to teach a child. He will watch my example, but he will observe others as well. He will learn things from others that I can not teach him. He will be mentored by others, and I need to trust in my church for them to accept this responsibility as well. And, thankfully, we are blessed to be a part of a church family that WANTS to do this.
So, our church has created Mosaic Ministries, a ministry specifically for those with special needs. We have created an advisory panel of parents, family members, teachers, therapists, experts, pastors, and people who have or work with people with disabilities. This is just the jumping off point, and I am so excited for what our future holds. I am very overwhelmed with joy to see so many people who are passionate about bringing ALL people to Jesus....even if that means we tear up the ceiling.