Where did the years go?
My son turns nineteen years old today.
I remember that tiny baby boy that I would position on my chest with his head on my shoulder as we sat in the recliner. I still vividly recall all the times I came home from work and he was bouncing away on his rocking zebra. I remember the first (and last) time we played together in the snow.
That seven and a half pound, nineteen- inch baby boy that I gingerly held in my arms now stands close to six feet tall and grows facial hair faster than I do.
Nineteen years of never speaking a word or being able to do most things without our help. Nineteen years of being affected by cerebral palsy, autism, and seizures. Those years were accompanied by many nights of tears, despair, bitter lament, the search for answers, and lying awake pleading to God to heal him.
All of our friend’s kids are going to college, getting married, and having children of their own. None of that is in the plan for our lives it seems.
But I have come to realize through his life God is being glorified every day. He has set my son apart despite his challenges. And despite his disabilities, he is made in the very image of God.
He has brought me nineteen years of delighting in his presence. Nineteen years of bringing joy into my heart by simply flashing me a smile. Nineteen years of celebrating unconditional love. He has been my inspiration for nineteen years.
I have watched God use this young man’s life to glorify Him, draw others closer to Him, and bring joy to everyone he encounters.
Because of him I have embraced God’s mission for my own life. God has called and chosen me to be my son’s warrior, provider, protector, encourager and equipper.
The impact of his life will go on for generations long after we both are in heaven playing basketball with each other.
His life has become the whirlwind of the storm where God speaks to me. He didn’t get to choose this for his life; it was given to him.
Many are the nights I begged God to give me his pain, his struggles, and his special needs. Many are the nights I asked Him to take everything that is a challenge to my son and to give it to me instead.
God in his sovereignty chose a higher purpose for his life.
I needed the manifest presence of God in my life, so God gave me my son. He didn’t need healing; I was the one who needed healing.
Last week I struggled to come up with an idea of what to get him for a birthday gift. His interests are so narrow and his needs so simple.
I came home yesterday feeling quite discouraged and down. I was having a particularly rough day. But last night, as we sat in his room for family prayer time, that all changed. As we were praying over our son, as he swung back and forth in his platform swing, he grinned from ear to ear cackling with joy.
I couldn’t stop smiling myself at his delight. That’s when it hit me.
It’s not the gift I get him. In reality his life is a gift to us. He is the gift I receive every day.