Friday, January 27, 2012

Theirs is the Kingdom of God....

A friend posted this on facebook this morning and I had to share. For those that don't know, I work with children with special needs every day and know that I have witnessed the simplest form of faith in the eyes of those I serve. Children really do have a better grasp of God then we give them credit for...and moreover, they have a better grasp then we do because they don't question but also, I believe, because they are able to remember the arms of God around them while they rested in our wombs.
I envy my brother Kevin. He thinks God lives under his bed. At least that's what I heard him say one night. He was praying out loud in his bedroom, and I stopped to hear him say, “Are you there, God? Where are you? Oh, I see. Under the bed.”

I giggled at him and went off to my own room. Kevin's unique perspectives are often a source of amusement to me. But that night I realized something else and thought about it long after I finished laughing. I realized for the first time what a very different world Kevin lives in. He was born 30 years ago, mentally disabled because of complications during his birth. Apart from his size (he's 6’2” and built like a linebacker), he’s really not an adult.

He reasons and communicates with the capabilities of a 6-year-old, and always will. He’ll probably always believe that God lives under his bed, that Santa Claus is watching and that airplanes stay up in the sky because angels carry them.

I remember wondering if Kevin ever realizes he’s different. Is he ever dissatisfied with his monotonous life? He’s up before dawn each day to work at a workshop for the disabled, comes home to walk our cocker spaniel, returns to eat his favorite macaroni-and-cheese dinner at least 5 nights a week, and later goes to bed. The only variation in the entire scheme is laundry, when he hovers excitedly over the washing machine like a mother with her newborn child. He never seems dissatisfied with his life and is happy every day. He trots out to the bus every morning at 7:05, always happily looking forward to his day of simple work.

He wrings his hands excitedly while the water boils on the stove before dinner, even though it’s the same thing almost every night, and he stays up late twice a week to gather our dirty laundry for his next day's laundry chores.

And Saturdays - oh, the bliss of Saturdays! That's the day my Dad takes Kevin to the airport to have a soda, watch the planes land, and wonder loudly on the destination of each passenger inside. Kevin shouts as he claps his hands and wonders about the destination of the passengers on each flight. His anticipation for that simple trip is so great he can hardly sleep on Friday nights. And he goes through his world of the same daily rituals and the same weekend trip, every day, every week.

Kevin doesn't, and probably never will, know what it means to be discontent. His life is simple and he takes delight in it. He’s the most content person I know. Kevin will never know the complications of wealth or power. He doesn’t care what brand of clothes he wears, as long as he has some green shirts (green’s his favorite color), or what kind of food he eats. His simple needs have always been met, and he never worries that he doesn’t have “more.”

He’s diligent. Kevin is never so happy as when he’s working. When he unloads the dishwasher or vacuums the carpet, his heart is completely in it. He never gives up on a job when he starts, and gives it his all until it’s finished. But when he’s done, he knows how to relax. He’s not obsessed with other people’s work, with what they’re doing or not doing, but just pays attention to his own. His heart really is pure.

He still believes everyone tells the truth, that promises must be kept, and when you are wrong, you apologize. Free from pride and unconcerned with appearances, Kevin isn’t afraid to cry when he is hurt, angry, or sorry. He is always transparent, always sincere. What you see really is what you get with him. And he REALLY trusts God.

When he comes to Christ, he comes as a child. Kevin seems to know God - to really be friends with Him in a way that an “educated” person never will be. To Kevin, God feels like his closest companion.

In my own moments of doubt and frustrations with my Christianity, I envy the security Kevin has in his simple faith. It is then that I am most willing to admit that he must have some divine knowledge that rises far above mine. It’s then I realize that maybe Kevin isn’t the one with the handicap; I am. My obligations, my fear, my pride, my circumstances, my desire for more, more, more - they all become disabilities because I can’t seem to trust them to God's care the way Kevin can.

I wonder if Kevin just easily comprehends things I can never learn. I wonder if, when it comes to God, Kevin has wisdom I will never gain. After all, he’s spent his whole life in that kind of simple innocence, praying after dark every night and soaking up the goodness and love of God.

One day, when all the mysteries of heaven are opened, and all of us see how close God really was to our hearts, we'll realize that God really hears us and always heard the simple prayers of a boy who always believed that God lived under his bed. Everyone will be surprised. Except for one person, that is. Kevin won't be surprised at all, and he’ll wonder why we would be because, to him, God was always right there whenever he wanted or needed Him, right under his bed.

Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children."

Such a wonderful message.

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