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Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Man of Faith I Most Admire

I know what you are thinking. I shall name some famous evangelist, perhaps a well known preacher, or a close personal friend. And you are wrong.

The man of faith who I admire the most is an unknown. In many ways, he is even unknown to me as I have only spoken to him twice and I do not know his name. But let me tell you why it is him that I admire most.

He is a young man, and he is mentally retarded with some apparent minor physical handicap. Every time I am in church I see him there. Every time I see him he is filled with joy. When he dances as he sings hymns badly out of tune and frequently with incoherent words I know that out of everyone there, his joy in the Lord, his outright enthusiasm is guaranteed to be genuine.

I have seen many people in my life who sing and dance, even who go so far as to run up to the front of the church and dance for all to see, only to see them be harsh and Godless in their personal lives. I have seen the grandstanders who make a great outward show of faith in front of the many, only to be degenerate or cruel in private. These Pharisees managed at one time to cause me to question God Himself, and to view all Christians with suspicion, thinking, wondering if anyone’s faith were really true, even as I struggled to keep my own.

In the childlike faith of this very special young man I see a pure soul. I see one who loves God and never finds any need to question to question faith. I see someone whose outward enthusiasm is a true reflection of his heart, and not just a show to make people think he is faithful.

He reminds of the time Jesus took a child upon his lap and admonished His disciples to have the faith of a child, and warned them that any who cause a child to stray are promised the harshest of judgments. Sometimes I fear for him. I worry that in his childlike trust that one day someone with ill intentions may seek to steal his faith. It is partly motivated by own selfishness though. The joy and encouragement I get from his faith are of incalculable value to me, even as his faith is of eternal value to him.

Though he does not know it he has taught me valuable lessons. I once struggled with the idea of whether a child who is diagnosed with a major crippling disorder should be aborted before birth. I was convinced that I could never live with such a handicap from a child of my own. From this young man I have learned that even people who have a severe enough handicap that they can never be independent are precious. I have learned that I have the ability to empathize with and even love such a person. I have learned that God does not forsake even those whom most of humanity would abandon.

I do not know him well. I have only ever spoken to him twice, and to my shame I cannot remember his name. Truth be told, as much as I admire him for his pure faith, I do not know how to relate to him as a person, and that is my own failing. It is my prayer this day that I may one day be able offer myself to him and others like in full and true friendship without the social difficulty I have now. For I know that it is people exactly like him who are the most treasured of God in this world.

4 Comments:

  • "I once struggled with the idea of whether a child who is diagnosed with a major crippling disorder should be aborted before birth."

    Many people would think that's a good thing. I once posted on a site that I don't believe in abortion under any circumstances, especially just for not being perfectly "normal" and someone considered that the "stupidest comment he had ever seen on the internet." Your story shows lives have worth whether some people believe it or not.

    By Blogger ScottG, at 3:43 AM  

  • As one who has worked with special needs folk (and whose wife has and does and who has many friends who do), all I can say is Amen.

    At one conference on Down Syndrome, this speaker got up and said when she is with an individual with Down Syndrome, she is with someone who just loves people, and who loves to be loved. Someone who is gentle, trusting, sharing and delightful.

    The question, the speaker asked, is not what's wrong with the "disabled" person - the question is, what's wrong with us?

    By Blogger Dan Trabue, at 5:16 AM  

  • A wonderful post, Daniel. And another miracle... Dan Trabue and I agree completely! :)

    I have worked with many Down Syndrome children through my church. We sponsor one of their camps and they visit our church often. They all have that special light in their eyes that they will never lose, and are full of joy, just like the young man in your church. Like you said, all they require is to be loved. They are also capable of doing a lot more than people give them credit for, if they are loved and mentored well, that is. We who work with them feel that we are doing good things; I believe the kids to more for us than we do for them!

    I'm very glad that experiencing this young man turned you around on the abortion issue. All of us are here for a purpose, and that includes the extremely disabled. I wonder... when it comes right down to it, which of us are truly "disabled"? I believe the disabled people are the one's who cannot see the specialness of such people and can't understand why God sent them to us.

    By Blogger Gayle, at 7:24 AM  

  • Very well written. An excellent post.

    By Blogger Robert M., at 1:01 PM  

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