Can a child with cognitive disabilities ever really “get” The Gospel?

I’ve done research on the topic. Can kids with cognitive disabilities ever really grasp the truth of The Gospel. Can a child who struggles with abstract thinking or understanding a passage of text really understand and process the truth and freedom offered in God’s Word? Can scripture speak to a heart and a mind that might not fully receive anything else? Does God make a way to perceive His truth?

I’ve read and heard thoughts on this topic, but nothing has spoken clearer to me than God’s Word in Matthew 13:16-17…

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it. ”

The truth is, even the smartest people can completely miss the message of the Gospel. They may hear the message and roll it around in their heads, they may see it, but never really see. Why? Because until God and God alone opens our ears, eyes, and minds to His truth – it’s not really going to sink in.

He’s sovereign over everything. He knows who will accept His truth before it’s ever offered to them. He softens hearts and hardens them. He makes the confused to understand and those who understand confused. He’s the giver of life and stands over all understanding.

I may not get the theology behind it. I didn’t go to seminary and don’t pretend I did, but I do know a few things.

If God is sovereign…there’s no power in hell that can prevent my child or any other person from “getting” The Gospel. So really, the most productive thing for me to do is make sure I am readily scattering “seed” for my child’s soil and praying to The Lord that He opens my child’s heart to receive the only One who can water it and make it grow.

Ultimately it’s all up to Him. And because He hears my prayers and loves my child even more than I do, I choose to trust his eyes and ears have already been opened. And no cognitive delay or damage in his genetic makeup could ever trump God’s sovereignty.

Matthew 13:12 says, “To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.”

Teaching our children to listen and giving them someone good to listen to becomes key. I cannot control if they will hear or not but I can certainly offer opportunities for them to hear.

So if I were to wrap this all up with a bow, I guess I would say don’t limit God by thinking your child has limits on his or her understanding. Because He can blow the limits off of our expectations. In His timing, He’s got it all taken care of. So keep offering those opportunities. And keep praying for open eyes, and ears, and hearts. Because God has ways beyond our understanding and He specializes in working with a troubled mind.

Visiting from SDG?!?!

blog picHi friends visiting from Soli Deo Gloria! I am so excited to meet you! The post I wrote for Jen’s blog today was a tough one, no doubt. And maybe you are visiting today because you experienced something similar…

If that’s you, I have a few things to share…

1. I am so sorry. If no one has ever told you that, they have now. What happened to you was awful.

2. It doesn’t define you. What happened to you is one life experience of many. It is not, does not, and need not confine or define who you are or what you will become.

3. Guilt and shame can take a while to go away. And you may not believe that God loves you, forgives you, and cares about you. Keep praying for Him to remove false guilt and shame and for him to help you overcome your unbelief (Mark 9:24) UNTIL it happens!!! Do not give up!

4. Make everything you do for the Glory of God. It’s all about Him. Move out of the pain of your past – why? – for His glory. He will be glorified in you, and yes, eventually even glorified in the story of what happened to you. His glory in your life is far more powerful than any person or sin – and no one can take that away.

Love and Hugs!!!! Stephanie

Can’t I set her free too?

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I know the feeling too well. Social struggles. She had a hard time walking into the party. I know enough to push her through the anxiety. But it’s difficult to watch. Girls she knows and loves. Girls that love her. But it doesn’t stop the internal garbage.

What if they don’t like me? Do they think I’m weird? Do my clothes look funny?

She would do anything to fit in and I would do anything to rip that garbage right out of her brain and put it where it belongs.

But I can’t.

Jesus, haven’t we fought this battle? Isn’t my freedom enough for her? Can’t the arms that set me free reach down and pull the chains from her as well? Can’t I fight this battle for her?

I’ve hashed through my feelings this weekend.

What did I do wrong? How can I help her grasp freedom?

It frustrates me that I may be doing all I can do. Taking her to church. Teaching her God’s Word and the power of scripture. I’m tempted to put her in every activity I can get my hands on. Maybe they will boost her confidence – give her a sense of belonging – and yet I know any sense of belonging or worth outside of Jesus will fail her, eventually.

And I wonder if Jesus doesn’t feel the same when He looks at me.

Haven’t I fought this battle for her? Victory over sin – It is finished. It is enough! Why can’t she choose to trust me? I tell her not to worry, but she does anyway…

And He could rip the garbage out of my mind in a second but He chooses not to. Instead He lets me learn and choose the Truth so it might be my own. Truth given specifically to me by a Savior who cares enough to let the working out of my salvation be a personal experience – a growth process – a relationship.

And so it will be with Lauren. Her battles must be fought within. I can be here, support, and guide, but ultimately she will choose that freedom for herself. And when she does it will be deeply personal for her. And although everything in me wishes I could just rush in and wrap it up in a bow for her, I know Jesus has a better way in mind. A way that will grow her relationship with Him.

And so I wait. And I pray. And I understand a tiny bit more about the way Jesus loves us than I did yesterday…

When He unearths a dream and brings you back to life…

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I want to be a writer and start a Christian counseling private practice. There, I said it. I keep waiting on God to blow the top off that dream, but it hasn’t happened yet. And I bet you have one too. A pet dream you keep waiting for God to bring into the light. You haven’t given up, but waiting gets awful at times.

But today, I was reminded of something. It seems while my eyes were focused on one dream, God has been busy blowing the top off of another.

It was a dream I held low and slow because I wasn’t certain it could happen. I have wondered, is He powerful enough, is He good enough to make this happen?

We have these dreams too. The ones we hesitate to ask God about. Maybe because they seem impossible.

Pipe dreams.

I had to look up the definition of pipe dream. I’ve heard it used, but didn’t know what it meant. The definition I found was that of a dream induced while smoking opium. Now I assure I haven’t been smoking anything, but I have had “pipe dreams”. Dreams that are such fantasy I seldom even pray about them. Dreams I am certain God could never be about fulfilling. One of such dreams is healing my son.

Now in so many ways I know he doesn’t need healing. He is who he is, awesome, because of the way his mind works. But most parents of a special needs child admit they would do anything for their child not to endure the hardships they face. There is beauty in trials, but if I could take them away from him, I would in a heartbeat. But the dreams I have for my son are pipe dreams at best…right?

Today I’m not so certain. It seems while I was busy focusing on other dreams, God has been busy blowing this buried dream out from under the dirt. Did He heal Ryan’s mind in a way that he thinks like any other child would think? No. And I wouldn’t want him to. Will Ryan continue to struggle? Yes. But today by showing me that Ryan can succeed at things I never thought were possible, like passing a state administered exam, well that’s enough to spark a fire under me. A spark to pray for more. To ask for more. To forget the term pipe dream and replace it with prayers and expectations for miracles from my miraculous God. The One who makes something’s out of nothing’s. The One who blows the top off dreams I forgot I had and teaches me to place others to the side until the timing is right.

And what about you? Have you looked around? Or are you busy focusing on a dream you want fulfilled so bad that you miss the dream He is fulfilling right in front of you? He blows the top off our dreams in ways we never expected. In timing we never expected. And in all dreams where He is glorified above all, He will far exceed our highest expectations.