This week my small group discussed how the framework from which we determine truth or lies is derived from a complex compilation of inputs we have taken in over the entirety of our lives. The more frequency we have of a certain input or the more weight we give the source it comes from, the more we choose to believe that input to be true. What intrigued me most about this discussion is just how many lies we were able to pinpoint that we Christians believed about ourselves and our relationships, not only with God, but also with each other.
The Bible defines believers as “many members, yet one body” (1 Corinthians 12:20). But often Christians function as stand-alone islands. We take great pride in using our spiritual gifts, but rarely do we admit that where God works the strongest in our lives, we are the weakest and most vulnerable. Ministers need to be ministered to, and special needs parents are no exception. Men and women who are given the huge responsibility of providing extraordinary care to their children, happen to also be individuals who are most in need of being cared for themselves.
Recently, I was boldly confronted with my own belief in this lie, regarding my spiritual gift as an encourager, when I came upon these following verses in Job:
Surely you have instructed many, and you have strengthened weak hands. Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have strengthened the feeble knees; but now it comes upon you, and you are weary; it touches you, and you are troubled. Is not your reverence your confidence? And the integrity of your ways your hope?”Job 4:3-6
The problem with spiritual gifts or calls to ministry is we believe, like Job’s friend Eliphaz who is quoted above, that those who are strong in ministering a certain gift should also be strong enough to minister it directly to themselves. This is not truth, but rather a lie based on pride. A lie that crushes our faith because it does not allow us to rely on the unseen works of God or upon each other as the body.
I don’t know if you have ever considered what special qualities certain Christians have that allow them to minister fruitfully over long seasons, but I have because my greatest desire is to serve God faithfully until He calls me home. The apostle Paul is a glowing example of a fruitful minister who endured many trials while staying faithful through his entire ministry career. Interestingly, what I found is that Paul, like many other godly men and women who kept a strong, enduring faith, was very willing to admit his need for help and encouragement.
These quotes always bring me to tears when I think of how desperate and open Paul was to share his need be encouraged by his friends in the faith (emphasis added):
For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” Romans 1:11-12
Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books, especially the parchments. . . . Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus stayed in Corinth, but Trophimus I have left in Miletus sick. Do your utmost to come before winter.” 2 Timothy 4:9-13,19-21
In thinking about your own life, your marriage, and your personal need to be cared for and encouraged as you minister to your family and the special needs of your child(ren), understand that asking for help is what God wants you to do. Don’t give into the lie that if you only had more faith or were more disciplined you could pull yourself together and make everything in your life work out.
Everyone needs encouragement and care, just as much as plants need sunlight and water. When discouragement and weariness start to crowd into our lives it is our faithful friends who can help us see overgrowths that need to be pruned, branches that need to be propped up with additional support, or supply us with the forecast of a brighter, God-lit, tomorrow.. That is why Paul states that we need to be “encouraged together . . . by the mutual faith.”
And encouragement and support is what the THSC Special Needs staff wants to give you at our conferences. These are places we have specifically made for you to come and get refreshed and encouraged, as well as be cared for by others who know what you are going through and empathize with your struggles to home school your special needs child.
Register for Woodlands – Special Buddies
This year you have double the chance to get encouraged in your home schooling endeavors because THSC hosted their first conference in Arlington over Mother’s Day weekend, in addition to the one still coming to The Woodlands, July 23 – 25. And not only are there programs for you mom and dad, there is also a program designed just for your kids called Special Buddies!
Leslie and I loved meeting those of you who came to Arlington and enjoyed the Special Buddies program, as well as the special fellowship with Steve Demme on Saturday. For those of you who were unable to make that event, we hope to see you in The Woodlands so we can meet you too face to face and personally encourage, pray for you, and guide you to resources that will equip you for the magnificent calling God has put on your life to teach your child to walk in His ways and follow the path He has set before him/her. Please consider registering for your encouragement today.