Friday, February 12, 2010

The Father's Favorites

Once in awhile I am privileged to catch a real glimpse of what delights the heart of God. For me this usually comes in the most surprising places…like on the Puget Sound last Sunday that started just when the Super Bowl was coming to its exciting conclusion. The amazing thing for me is that I was actually okay with not watching the Big Game’s conclusion because what I experienced that night was far more significant than what the Saints and Colts were doing in Miami. Something good but unreal in my life was replaced with something better and real.

It was several weeks ago that Blaine Clyde of Young Life Open Door Seattle and I discussed the Valentine’s Day Cruise (February 7th) he coordinates for the kids with special needs he and his staff serve. They did it last year and it was a big hit and wanted to do it again. We talked about our foundation possibly making a grant that would lower the cost per family to attend or send their child, as well as the fact that he was looking for a live band. I suggested the band my son Adam plays in, Jericho, led by vocalist Andrew Southwick.

About 25 kids, along with several Young Life staff and parents, gathered to eat at the Red Robin restaurant by Pier 55 before embarking on the Argosy Cruise. Adam’s band set up and was ready to rock when we all arrived. Jericho filled the Puget Sound with classic rock dance tunes that started with the Beatles, “I Saw Here Standing There.”

One of the attendees was a gentleman I have just met recently, Greg Schell, whose daughter Christina had been part of Young Life Open Door when she was in high school. Greg directs the Father’s Network, which promotes support groups for dads who have kids with disabilities. The divorce rate of parents with a child with a disability is sadly around 80 percent. This makes the work of Young Life Open Door and the Father’s Network so vital in supporting these families.

I have to confess that one of the greatest fears I had when we were in our child bearing years is that one of our children would be born with a severe disability. This would strike at the heart of my pride, comfort and freedom. As my youngest daughter is getting ready to fly the nest, I realize that most of the parents of these kids will be taking care of them in their home for the rest of their lives.

As I watched the young people on the boat that night I was impressed with the joy in which they embraced the moment. They lacked self-consciousness when they danced—not like me for sure. They didn’t worry about trying to look cool. (Okay, maybe a couple of the guys who turned up their collars were trying to look a little cool!)

I shook hands with one girl in a wheel chair who spoke with some difficulty. She asked me how old my son was. After telling her that he was 25, she said, “Oh you mean he is 13 times 2 minus 1? My dad is 17 times 3 minus one. He’s old!” As I complimented her about her math skills she laughed and hugged her dad and said to him, “Sorry for being such a CMG—a Crazy Math Genius, Dad!”

Each of these young people I met were real characters with unique personalities. One guy with Down syndrome introduced himself to me with his full formal name and proceeded to say that he is the grand nephew of one of the original founders of Seattle and the son of a late Seattle media personality.

Let’s be honest - these young people are often pitied because of their disabilities and because they look and act different than others. But I am convinced that they are the “Father’s Favorites.” Why? Because God has favored them with the abilities that are indispensable for receiving eternal blessings–the abilities to possess childlike faith, celebratory joy and unconditional love.

Praising The Father For His Power Perfected In Weakness,



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Anonymous said...

Jamie, there are a few things that touch my heart but this one really strikes a cord. When I was a teenager I had the opportunity to help teach handicapped children to learn how to bowl. Sometimes I would lift the ball up onto the wheel chair, which was equipped with a slide. In turn, they would push the ball down towards the pins. The muffled sounds of joy that would come from their lips put me in tears and I eventually walked away. I couldn't do it because it torn me apart. Maybe this was meant for me to pray about once more. Thanks Jamie.

Anonymous said...

Jamie - Thank you for having the courage and faith to trust God in being involved with those who have special needs. Such individuals make me feel uncomfortable because they are different when in reallity they are such a blessing to be around. It's neat to see how God opened the door and how so many were blessed by your willingness to faithfully step through that door and into the world of these with special needs. Thanks for sharing Jamie.

Lucy said...

This is beautiful. I am so thankful you made it a priority to attend this cruise! I love how you said Power Perfected in Weakness. Thank you for sharing your heart.