It’s been two years today. September 15. Something happened. It didn’t happen at church. It didn’t happen in a prayer circle. It didn’t happen at an altar. It didn’t happen in a hospital room. It happened at my kitchen table. And life as I knew it changed with the unlikely and unexpected words, “God is a good gift giver.”
Oh, I had been praying prayers for five years. Desperate prayers, pleading prayers, faith-filled prayers, expectant prayers, commanding prayers, binding and loosing prayers, tearful prayers, scripture prayers, healing prayers, walking around prayers, on-my-face prayers, disappointed prayers, joyful prayers, thankful prayers, justice prayers, frustrated prayers, angry prayers, ultimatum prayers, confession prayers, petition prayers, laying-hands-on prayers, curse-breaking prayers, surrender prayers, worship prayers. Just lots and lots of prayers. For five years.
And, honestly, things seemed to go from bad to worse for my son–the object of so many prayers. The autism gap was getting larger with each passing year and his words had all but disappeared while stranger behaviors replaced them despite intensive therapy and thousands of dollars spent on everything we could reasonably grab on to try to help this child. But I had no doubt that God was doing something in me to heal wounds and give me strength for the day, or even the hour. So I continued tripping in His direction. You do all you can possibly do, and there are just some chasms you cannot possibly fill yourself.
I am here to testify, though, that when you pray, something is supposed to happen. Without expectation of an answer, prayer kind of loses its meaning. However, it totally surprised me when something DID happen. Josiah and I were alone, sitting at my kitchen table–well, let’s use that term “sitting” loosely, as I spent most of my time pulling him back to sit at the table–and we were doing a Rapid Prompt Method lesson. It’s the only thing that had worked to show Josiah was “in there” and was paying attention. It was just a matter of trying to open up communication that was locked away in severe autism’s solitary confinement. I thought I was teaching him to spell. I wasn’t really even doing the method totally the right way, as he seemed more excited about his iPad than poking at letters on a board. However, after a year of this, he finally had shown he could spell a chosen color for himself like “red” without me giving him the answer. That inspired hope in me to keep working at this.
So, we were at the table. I was reading from the Children’s Bible about when Jesus healed the blind man. I said, “Jesus healed the blind man. What did Jesus do, Josiah? Did He h-e-a-l (heal) the blind man, or did He p-l-a-y (play) with the blind man? Heal or play? I ripped the paper in half with each side having a choice, tapped on each choice, and he chose heal. “Okay, let’s spell heal.” He wanted to do it on his iPad, but still needed some steadying to work across the alphabetical screen. He pressed on G, then O. I just thought he was totally missing it, but then he spelled his very first independent sentence: “God is a good gift giver.” What happened after that was pinch-me-am-I-dreaming amazing. He types with his pointer finger, “God is very capable.” I swirled, swooned, dropped to me knees. How is this child writing these things? He can barely come out with the color he wants.
That is one occurrence, and that is enough to jolt a person (a person who is not on any drugs, and–last time I checked–perfectly sane), that God supernaturally stepped in and did something. It wasn’t even when I would say I was at some kind of optimal faith or anything. Sincerely, I had been growing weary in well doing. But something happened!
So, I thought by Monday morning, everything would be different! This was the breakthrough we were looking for. Thank you, God! I had spent the weekend with Josiah catching up on what his favorite everything was. He was answering my questions. Remember, he is just shy of seven at that time, and we had never had a real conversation. It was glorious! So, we get to his therapy center on Monday, and I tell them about what had happened. I’m so excited. And I say to Josiah, “Let’s show them.” And he won’t do it. They look on at me in pity and puzzlement. I can’t believe it.
Surely that would all change, though. I mean, God had stepped in. There was no question. And I kept seeing the most amazing things in front of my eyes happening. In private. Josiah was writing things that took my breath away. In private. He knew things and explained things I didn’t know, nobody knew. In private. Oh, and on park benches, in malls, in museums. He wouldn’t do it for his therapists and teachers in school settings. Try and try, and the shift wouldn’t come that could help him learn and discover in the outside world. So frustrating.
So Much Has Happened
These have been two of the most incredible years of my life watching the world unfold in front of my eyes through a child that is so tuned to spiritual things. Volumes of pages and hours logged and stored from iPad conversations, everything from funny observations, simple needs, to the most profound poetry I have ever read, and the most advanced concepts I can’t even fathom to think. Mostly, about God, Heaven, Jesus, healing, peace, and life. Mostly, it’s perspectives that confirm what is already true, but generally hidden somehow as we go about our lives focused on this dimension.
Josiah asked me to start a Facebook page called Josiah’s Fire in April of 2013. I didn’t know he knew what Facebook was. He typed one day, “I give you all of these quotes and share things with you. It’s nutty to me that you never share them on Facebook.” Well, son, it’s because I’m afraid people will think I’m nuts, if I’m honest. This makes no LOGICAL sense! And yet, I cannot deny what is actually happening.
But what happens when reality–as in, it’s really happening–actually collides with reality–he’s still restricted by big fat autism in about every way possible? Something supernatural is interacting in our lives–you can doubt it, but I have NO doubt. It’s not just theory; it’s real. I’ve seen way too much to doubt. But, I have to be honest, I am shocked that my son is not healed from autism. Why would God only do a partial miracle? Surely He knows that would mess with me. To an onlooker, Josiah is not different than he was two years ago. But everything has changed, and everything has stayed the same. How can that be? What do you do with that?
I Want More to Happen
I have had two years worth of miracles, really. Truly, impossible things have happened and much of it has revolved around these words from and through Josiah. To know what your son is thinking, and to even get him to be able to tell you that there is rock in his shoe, is a blessing when you didn’t have it before. You might think that I would be happy and content with what I got and what an outlet it was for him, finally. I mean, how many people get even that? However, have you ever considered the challenges of having only a “partial” miracle? And from that miracle, you are getting pictures that God is really true and really, really good?
Over the past two years, I have learned much about the nature and character of God. My perspective has changed on so many things I believed as a good, Christian, studied-up woman. Lest you think I’ve lept to a different doctrine, I haven’t. What I’ve realized is that the God of the Bible IS the God of the Bible. And that Jesus IS who He portrayed Himself to be. And the people in the Bible were real like you and me. The only thing that set them apart from the rest and put them in the book is that they believed the unbelievable, improbable, bizarro things God said.
It’s simple really. Despite what the facts and the senses and reality portray, God’s supernatural order is supreme over natural order, and He can change things. And, not just by changing your behavior. He can change things that you and I can’t change no matter how awesome, or good, or deserving, or smart, or determined we are. The things that only He can change are truly the “impossible” things. But He wants to partner up with you to change them. You can knock off making poor choices yourself. Some of us truly are facing something that cannot be solved on this planet by anyone. When there is no other choice, you pretty much have to believe for a miracle, or God is not who He says He is to you. And, in my experience, that ends up makes for a crappy relationship if you feel you can’t trust Him. Been there, done that.
Faith is not a feeling, and it’s not just based on your will to persevere with a smile, bless God. But faith without healed feelings is very difficult to set into motion as well. At the end of the day, faith is supposed to produce something if you’re legally pursuing that promise, that is just divine law. But don’t let anyone get you all jacked up in your thinking about not having enough faith if xyz didn’t happen or isn’t happening. That only makes for “constipated” faith. There are some things we just don’t understand and don’t have a good answer for. God is not in the business of withholding from us until we satisfy the right formula for His liking. It’s different than that.
What is Fullness, Anyway?
Last time I checked, autism falls in the “impossible” category. Check, that’s a qualifier for a miracle. Now, I know people pray and believe for miracles and they still don’t happen. I have been there. It’s painful to believe and then what you’re believing for doesn’t happen. I really wish I had some answers for that. But I do know that to reduce God’s abilities down to match our experiences is to stop the pursuit of His kingdom coming down here altogether. His will doesn’t always get done on earth as it is in Heaven. That’s just a fact. But I’m still supposed to pray, believe and grab for it to come down into this space because He loves us and cares about our problems. He doesn’t know how to be any other way.
Just when I think I should start being content with a partial miracle, and that I should maybe let go of my desire for a full miracle, God in no small way reminds me of what “fullness” means. Two verses keep coming up:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).
What is “full” life? Can my son have it? Can we have it, God? Should I even dare to want to have it, or is that being spoiled and entitled and ungrateful? Is “full” life just a theoretical, hereafter kind of idea, or is it for right here and right now? Don’t get me wrong, people can have difficult circumstances remain in their lives and still have a full life. People can have bad, final things happen to them and come out having a full life. God restores! But what does a person like me do when I have seen a partial miracle and my desire is to have a full miracle? I am fully willing to steward the implications of this miracle coming to pass, which I think has been these two years in the making.
As a nice, midwestern girl and minister of the Gospel, I have had to wrestle with the question, “God, can we have this full miracle? Is it okay to keep asking and pressing for that? Or, are You tired of me wanting what You said Jesus already provided for me with both His back and His blood?”
Well, all signs that I can find in the Bible and from some pretty interesting revelations point to yes, I can keep pressing. Perhaps the question is less about if He wants it, and more about if we want it. Presumptuous? I don’t think so. Break down that verse of Proverbs 13:12 in the Hebrew and it means this: Hope (an expectation that something should happen) deferred (prolonged, removed, delayed, drawn out) makes the heart sick (worn out, weak, grieved, wounded), but a desire (a longing, delight, pleasure) fulfilled (accomplished, furnished, satisfied, wholly completed) is a tree of life (fullness and richness, giving all that makes living a blessing).”
The Jesus who came to save for eternity also came to offer full life, meaning giving all that makes living a blessing. That is “shalom” peace–wholeness, completion. It is the peace that “destroys the authority of chaos.” He certainly wants to do that IN us, but I am convinced that He wants to do that practically FOR us to give all that makes living a blessing. The whens, the hows, the ways are uniquely approached for each of us. Personally, though, I have yet to see that autism itself is a blessing for my son or family. I refuse to give autism credit. My son, though, is amazing!
I guess on this second anniversary of a massive miracle–though in actuality a “partial” one–God has secured me with the understanding that it’s okay to want more, to want fullness. If your heart is content where it is, awesome. Peace is a piece of the kingdom, regardless of the circumstances. But, if desire grips you in the morning, noon, and night for the fullness to come, for justice and mercy to be had, perhaps energy shouldn’t be wasted on wishing that you didn’t want it so badly.
I want the fullness. I will serve God to the end with love, joy, faith and devotion regardless of what I see. Even if Miracle: The Sequel never comes. But I want the fullness of this miracle made manifest. If He started a good work, He says He’ll see it through to completion (Phil. 1:6). I just want to be able to take Him at His word, and not apologize for it.
These are raw, unedited ramblings mostly for my benefit, as two years turns over to approach a third. I feel like I’m 13 months pregnant waiting for this miracle. It’s actually uncomfortable, but I’m going to allow myself to feel it. Perhaps someone else might understand.