I requested a weekend respite worker from the agency that works with my son to help me care for Dan during church service on Sunday. It took a while but they finally found one, a very lovely young lady. She came over for a preliminary interview and met Dan. Everything was going fine until I started to enumerate her responsibilities with Dan while we all attended church, then her face changed and she stopped me mid sentence. “I’m sorry but I wasn’t aware that I had to go to church with you guys, I can’t, I’m of another faith.”
At first, I thought, okay, next. This is not going to work out. A diminished spiritual life for my child is not an option. But she was so sweet and teachable, and Dan really took to her. So the thought crossed our minds that maybe it would be a lot easier for us to worship and serve in church if Daniel was watched at home. We had struggled with him in service for so long. Maybe this was a possible solution.
So we tried it for a couple of weeks, Daniel stayed home with our new worker and my husband, older son, and I went to church. It went well, but I did miss Dan’s presence in our pew. On the third week, our worker had an emergency and couldn’t make it so we took Dan with us, like we had always done before she came along. We struggled but it was fine. That week Dan started humming the songs he heard during service that Sunday; when I am weak you make me strong, when I’m poor I know that I’m rich for in the power of your name, all things are possible, all things are possible, all things are possible over and over again. Then he continued with say the name of Jesus…He’s gonna make a way when you say Jesus…, also hummed repeatedly.
That was a particularly rough week and I needed those worship songs to get me through. I felt so encouraged with these reminders from God and they came through Dan because we took him to church that week! That’s when I knew that God was trying to teach me a couple of things; Dan has a spiritual life and I needed to watch over it, Dan needs to be in church to encourage the people the same way he encouraged me during that week, and more importantly, God takes pleasure in Dan’s worship. I needed to continue to take Dan to church because the reward will always be greater than the struggle.
Lord, I pray that no one, including me, would underestimate Dan’s spiritual life and his role in the church.
*This post first appeared in April 2017 on http://www.sandrapeoples.com.
Sandra Peoples (M. Div, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is one of the leading voices in the special-needs community. She is the editor for Key Ministry and The MOB Society. She is the author of two popular self-published books: Speechless: Finding God’s Grace in My Son’s Autism and Held: Learning to Live in God’s Grip. She co-edited 30 Prayers for Special-Needs Parents. She also founded Special-Needs Parents Appreciation Month (which is celebrated in August).
Sandra is currently working on a new book for special-needs parents to be published by Bethany House Publishers and releasing in 2018 entitled, Unexpected Blessings: The Joys and Possibilities of Life in a Special-Needs Family.