Locked away in the mystified mind of my mentally disabled son is a deep thinking joy that can only be explained as “the secret things of God”.
While much of Jake’s non-verbal life is spent battling the anxiety of the unknown within the unsolved puzzle of his silent world, there is also a contemplative side to his musings. There are times when impulsive laughter fills the room and there are moments when deep stares pierce through the emptiness like a listening friend or a pondering poet.
I have spoken to other fathers, and other parents, about this strange and glorious presence that seems to permeate the hidden minds of our exceptional children. Most will agree that there is something divine going on in the invisible realm that cannot be seen with our underprivileged eyes, or translated through our able bodied vocabulary.
It might also be noted that these are not parents who are whimsical in their theology or capricious in their view of God. Neither would I conclude that these fathers and mothers are emotionally caught up in the over spiritualization of their children’s disability. Instead I would say that these parents have developed a close bond with their children through an even closer bond with God and therefore have become extremely sensitive to the spiritual realm, seeing things (that most take for granted) through the lens of the miraculous each and every day.
One father that I spoke to recently described his disabled son’s moments of spontaneous laughter and unbridled joy as “Playtime with Jesus”. He explained to me that his son, blind from birth, seems to see things that we cannot see and seems to have a relationship with God that magnifies the very real presence of Jesus.
My son also gives the impression that he too shares a divine bond with his heavenly Father. One of the first words in sign language Jake learned as a young child was the sign for “Jesus” which is displayed by pointing to the center of each hand (where the nail prints will be found). Ask him where Jesus lives and Jake will point upward. Ask him where else Jesus lives and Jake will point to his heart. I don’t remember ever teaching my son these things. Could it be that for many years he has known of the One who sits at the Father’s right hand, and inhabits the hearts of men?
I have watched Jake sit through entire sermons and nod his head appropriately. I have watched him give emotional standing ovations at the end of a well preached message (even when he is the only one clapping in a room of 300 people). He also claps at the end of each prayer—it is a hearty, resounding AMEN!
There have been times after a sermon or moving hymn when Jake is in tears. I do not know what is going on in his mind during these times. I only know that there is so much more happening than the doctors and specialists have ever dreamed possible in the silent, diminished world of his “disabled mind”.
I admit that I constantly seek out the display of God’s glory in my son’s life, maybe to a supernatural fault. I look for things that most people don’t look for, and I hope for things that many parents don’t consider in the lives of their able bodied children.
Perhaps this intense observation projects a blinding bias that shades my reality with the hope for the miraculous. But this is not a bad place to be. I am not hoping for the things of God, or the gifts of God, or even the healing of God—I am hoping for the presence of God. And oftentimes His presence is most tangible and observable in the struggling life of my disabled son.
Is it possible that my son’s inability to see things as a “normal” person sees, or his incapability to understand what “ordinary” people understand, is actually an exceptional ability rather than a disability?
Or could it be that I am the disabled one here? That through my own personal pride and the superficial cares of this world I am calloused to the deeper things of God, deaf to His audible voice, and blind to His very real presence in my life.
I will only discover the answers to these questions in eternity when Jake receives his glorified body, complete with a communicating mind and an articulating tongue. Maybe then we will all discover that disability was actually an exceptional ability to see, taste and understand the secret things of God.