"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. ... For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is lowly and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God" (I Corinthians 1:18, 26-29, emphasis added).
This weekend is Disability Sunday at my home church. We are celebrating the way the Lord has richly blessed our disabilities ministry over the years. He uses each of us who are His children, even those who the world would call "broken" or "disable." Paul reminds us that God's work through the Gospel is not meant to make sense to the world:
This has played out tangibly in my life thanks to my little brother. Aaron is autistic; we found out when he was about 3 years old. What that means is basically that he learns things in a different way from us "normal" people. He's not as socially apt, but we tend to chalk that up to him being a true Blakey, content to just be left alone.
What Aaron may be "lacking" in some areas, however, he more than makes up in his artistic creativity. When Aaron used to play with Legos, he decided what he wanted to build and picked out the exact pieces that he needed. He also used to make his own paper toy characters, and he would cut out the form of the character with no outline whatsoever. Then he would draw in the details. He recently picked up stop-motion animation, and has had a lot of fun making videos of him drawing his favorite cartoon characters.
Over the years it has been so exciting to see Aaron step out of his shell. He used to be a very picky eater, but he has become open to trying anything at least once. At our college group, he has found his niche running the PowerPoint for the announcements and music time. He is faithfully there every week he's in town, and the leadership relies on him a lot for that. He also works for a company that specializes in helping special needs adults, and the supervisors say he is one of their best workers.
I have learned so much from my brother that I don't think I would have otherwise. As we were growing up, the Lord taught me a lot about patience through trying to interact with him. (I also learned to be very careful if we were rough-housing -- more than once I was on the receiving end of a hard kick to the stomach. The kid's got some serious power. :P) Much of my family's patience with Aaron is really starting to show fruit now as Aaron continues to break out of his shell. He may still reply to you in mostly one-word answers like "Yeah" or "No," but he also asks a lot more questions and makes more comments/observations of his own.
God has also taught me through Aaron not to count anyone out simply because of externals. My brother will not stand up and sing during a church service, but he is enjoying it and worshiping as much as those around him. Some of the disabled members of our church are part of the worship team, and you can clearly see them glorifying God as they serve in that way, even if it's not in a "normal" way to the rest of us. Remember God's words to the prophet Samuel! "Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
I've been so encouraged to learn more about Aaron and what he likes/dislikes throughout the years. I may not have had the "normal" sibling relationship with my brother, but I wouldn't have it any other way. He has drawn us closer to the Lord and closer as a family in ways that we could never have imagined, and for that I am eternally grateful.
A simple servant of the Master.