“Who me? A Special Needs Parent? I can’t do this! I’m not qualified.”
Growing up, I was afraid of those handicapped kids, tucked away in the portables at the rear of campus. I probably even used The R Word. Even as an adult, I avoided making eye contact with someone in a wheelchair.
“Do I make eye contact, or is that rude? Should I open the door for them or is that presumptuous?”
Disabled people made me uneasy. I didn’t know what to do or how to behave around them. My discomfort was all about me.
So when our son was diagnosed with autism, it felt like a cruel, cosmic joke. “I’m not qualified for this! Give him to a Special Education teacher, or at least a patient homeschooling mom. I’m not cut out to raise a special needs child.”
But despite having zero experience with disabilities, God assigned this one to me. There was nowhere to run. My child was… my child. And he was dependent on someone as flaky as me. Parenting is terrifying under normal conditions. This was far from normal. This was Not-Normal on steroids.
Edged out of my old life and forced into a new one, I felt overwhelmed and under-qualified. I was trapped.
Surely, we were both doomed.
Great Commissions, “Unschooled Men”
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it.
~ Acts 4:13-16
Throughout history, God has assigned Herculean-sized missions to diminutive candidates. The Author and Perfecter our faith writes History, His way, enlisting a hand-picked cast of His choosing. Apparently, He sees in each of us, potential that no one else sees. In God’s unfathomable grace, ordinary folks can play starring roles in extraordinary stories.
Peter and John were unschooled, ordinary men. Their commencement into sainthood started with inauspicious beginnings. Just moments earlier, the disciples had been hiding out in an upper room, to recoup and regroup after the death of Jesus. Confused, disoriented and displaced, no doubt they were quaking with fear. After three years of intense, life-on-life with their leader (“He’s the One!”) surely they must have wondered,
“Now what? What do we do? Where to now?”
To them, in their bewilderment, Jesus appeared with words of comfort and assurance, “Peace be with you!” Unto them, the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost. To them, Jesus entrusted the ministry of reconciliation. Upon them (Peter), God would build His Church, and the gates of Hades would not overcome it.
God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called. Everyone knew the disciples lack of credentials, yet were astonished at their courage, boldness and miraculous works. Their one distinguishing feature was that they had been with Jesus.
Evidently, spending intense time with Jesus makes a qualitative difference.
An Upper Room Convocation
We didn’t volunteer for special needs parenting; we were drafted. We didn’t seek out this life; it came to us. Jesus knows our trepidation and fear. He comes to us to in our bewilderment to say, “Peace be with you!” Whether we’re hiding behind a drafty configuration of fig leaves, locked down in an Upper Room, or holed up in a man cave somewhere, He knows we are quaking with fear.
To us, Jesus comes to comfort, assure and reassure. He knows we feel acutely inadequate and unprepared for the assignment before us. And He reminds us of His penchant for working miracles through under-qualified, unlikely and improbable people. We were once not a people, but now we are the People of God.
Whatever our baseline may be, however uncredentialed, under-qualified or overwhelmed, do not underestimate what God can do. Our only requirement is that we spend intensive time with Him.
Let the Holy Spirit come upon you. Accredited by God, we will find ourselves deftly speaking languages (e.g. medical billing codes and IEP acronyms) we never uttered; wizened in realms we had no prior knowledge, and boldly advocating where we once cowered.
The Lord will do outstanding miracles, wonders and signs through our lives. Everyone familiar with our ordinary nature will take note and be astonished at the transformation.
There will be no denying it. Our Upper Room convocation will be the commencement place of a calling.
Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.
~ 2 Corinthians 3:4-5
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