In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Baking cookies, baseball games, PTA’s and Hallmark-card Mommy Moments. Any romanticized notions I entertained about motherhood, evaporated the moment a pediatric neurologist confirmed our worst fears: autism.
Panic, then frantic Googling for the equivalent of a master’s degree in Special Education. An unplanned (and undesired) career change into fulltime autism case management. Greying hair and an amped-up dependence on high-octane caffeine. That first year alone, we spent $120,000 in medical expenses, and $10,000 in legal fees against the school district.
While other parents eagerly anticipated their child’s future, we looked to ours with dread. Other families looked forward to a world of unlimited possibilities; we got smacked with massive restrictions and unexpected closures. At age two, we were already preparing for death. “What then, will become of him? Who will take care of him when we’re gone?
Like Mary, motherhood hadn’t panned out the way I expected either.
“Blessed and highly favored”?!
Unlike Mary, I was hardly gracious. Both fists raised to the skies, I protested violently,
How are You gonna call all this, “Blessed and highly favored?”
Betrothed to an honorable Jewish carpenter, young Mary had a respectable life (and good furniture) to look forward to. Until an angel of the Lord appeared and hijacked her plans. How could this be? It sounded impossible. It was impossible. Although Mary had nine months to prepare, she couldn’t possibly have prepared for the marvelous realities that would unfold,
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.
This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.
Despite the heavenly heads up, she had no way of imagining the unpredictable impact of the inescapable Jesus.
Mary did you know? Me neither
On August 20, 2004, I couldn’t have imagined the journey that lay ahead of us. Lifelong disability felt like a curse, hardly a “favor.” Evidently, God defined blessing differently than I did.
Consumed by grief, it was inconceivable that disability could ever be a blessing. But looking back on the past eleven years, our lives did indeed amount to immeasurably more than we could have asked or imagined.
I couldn’t have imagined the gifted professionals, educators, medical practitioners and administrators we’d meet along Jeremy’s therapeutic journey.
I couldn’t have imagined the passionate and selfless special needs ministry leaders and volunteers who’d overwhelm us with love, respite, support and encouragement.
I couldn’t have imagined the inspiring tribe of fellow special needs families we’d meet, who’ve become cherished friends and the extended family we chose for ourselves.
I couldn’t have imagined how autism would save me from “Country Club Christianity,” or a shallow, self-centered life cocooned in success-driven suburbia.
I couldn’t have imagined how God would use my child to inspire and change others.
Such unspeakable joy.
Mary couldn’t have possibly conceived. Yet she did. I couldn’t possibly have conceived being blessed by autism. Yet I was.
Inconceivable Promises, Undeniable Realities
A sword may pierce our souls today. Perhaps the fresh wounding of a diagnosis, lost opportunities, or the death of a dream. But as impossible as it may sound, we can consider ourselves “blessed and highly favored.”
Leave room for wonder and hope for the future. Consider that God defines blessing differently than in our economy. He understands our feelings. He also has a Purpose and Plan to redeem.
In the meantime, we stow away His Promises as we wait for their fulfillment. Like Mary, treasure up all these things and ponder them in our hearts.
As it is written,
No eye has seen, and no ear has heard. And no mind has ever conceived the glorious things that He has prepared for those who love Him.”
~ I Corinthians 2:9-10
How has God redeemed a past pain into a present blessing? What sword pierces your heart today? Though it seems inconceivable, consider yourself blessed and highly favored. God will fulfill His Promises. Wait for it…