My personal disclaimer:
As always, I began this post WEEKS AGO! THEN, home schooling and VBS preparing and children and life happened SO, I am NOW publishing it! Plus, I haven’t been pleased with my writing lately…so I put it off.
NOW to the good stuff!
On Easter Sunday Isaiah gets baptized.
So there has always been this burning question in my heart when it comes to my oldest: can someone with Asperger’s become a Christian? And thank the Lord that question has been answered.
You see, I always worried a little because I know that Isaiah views so many things as literal. He needs things to be tangible; to be present in front of him. He is interested in science and the reason why is because in a scientific environment he can ask a question, do some research, and get an answer that makes sense. How often does that happen, in that way, in Christianity? I mean, Christ the man even spoke in parables because people would not listen or could not understand, so how can my very literal son understand stories such as the Parable of the Sower and can he realize the deeper meaning behind it?
Well, he did. He does. And I couldn’t be more proud or filled with joy. Isaiah is twelve now, but around his eleventh birthday he came to us and told us how he knew the Spirit had changed his heart and he had become a child of God’s. He explained how he was ready to try his best to give up sin and live for God.
Now, this isn’t actually the first time Isaiah had come to us and expressed this, but this was the first time he had come to us using his own language (as opposed to things he heard others say) and he really showed the heart and knowledge and demeanor of someone who has had their heart changed by the Spirit.
As time goes on and Isaiah learns more about science and nature (as I am almost certain he will choose a career in this field) I do worry a bit that the world may get to him. BUT, he is a child of God now. The Spirit worked in his heart to soften it to the voice of Christ. There is no voice louder than God’s! AM I RIGHT!? He felt that conviction and I know I do not need to worry (as much) anymore.
I mean, sure, the science stuff is scary because it is tangible; it can be put into words and numbers and equations, and concrete evidence of existence, but Isaiah heard God’s call on his heart through all that stuff. This does not take away our responsibility as parents to disciple him in the home nor does it mean the church has no more responsibility for discipleship, BUT it does mean that we KNOW Isaiah has been changed so he KNOWS the real deal. As he gets older, not only will his knowledge in the world grow, but his knowledge in the Word as well. Isaiah will become more spiritually mature and conscious as time goes on, and this is such a wonderful and great thing.
God is wonderful and great, you guys. My heart is so full of joy right now knowing that one day my son will be worshiping our Savior in Heaven. While there is still so much I can worry about, what a great weight the salvation of my son has lifted from my heart.
SO, that was written two weeks ago and today was Easter!
Today, my son followed the call of God upon his heart with an act of obedience and public profession of his faith by becoming baptized as a believer in Christ. My son. My Isaiah. Isaiah got up in front of roughly 400 people and allowed our pastor to submerge him into water completely covering his head and face. And…it was memorable to say the least.
First of all, I have had a bit of anxiety surrounding today because Isaiah does not do well with being dunked in water, water being over his head, water being in his eyes and ears, and to top that off, someone literally putting their arms around him. To be honest, I don’t feel I was really fair to our pastor, I feel he needed a disclaimer before he baptized Isaiah! BUT, it was wonderful. And oh, so memorable (thank you, Will, and I’m also sorry [as I giggle]).
The first surprise was that Isaiah asked to wear one of the robes in the back which I thought was very much Isaiah. Then my brave boy walks down into that water knowing full well he is getting dunked, and through his fears and what I imagine was a mental overload knowing that his senses were about to be overloaded, he professed his faith. THEN it got a little tricky for poor Will! Isaiah went stiff as a board! He said his foot got caught in the robe, I don’t know if that is what happened, but I know we all had a good chuckle as he almost pulled our good shepherd down with him into that water! The amazing thing, though, was how he came up! He came up with water in his eyes which means he had them closed and his arms were outstretched like a blind person trying to find their way. And all my brain could do was think of how poetic that visual was.
Here we are chuckling, but a new believer is like a blind man searching for their way and it is up to us to help them and teach them (discipleship means to ‘become a learner or a pupil’). What is even more amazing to me is that Isaiah truly did not feel embarrassed as I am sure many of us would have in that position (thanks Asperger’s for that). When he came to sit back down I was worried and asked if he was ok and he said that he felt great. He had the biggest grin and I could see the Spirit radiating through him. Something that would have caused me to fly out the back door red-faced and ashamed and here my kid is literally having the best moment of his life. And rightfully so.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible and the one that is kind of my personal motto is 2nd Timothy 2:15: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (NIV). Here I am, supposedly a seasoned believer, and I was worried my seedling of a believer son would be ashamed of how his public profession of faith went. Here I am supposed to be doing my best to present myself as one approved and Isaiah, in his infancy, seems to have it all figured out.
You see, sometimes being a believer is messy. Sometimes it is painful. Sometimes it is downright terrifying. Through all of these, we should never be ashamed of the work we do in the name of our living God. I mean, what is there to be ashamed of? For Isaiah today, he got baptized! He faced several of his fears because he was doing what God led him to do and he was not even a little ashamed of the process or outcome! And yet, friends, don’t we act daily as though we are embarrassed or ashamed? Are there moments where we feel called to pray in public and instead of stopping and praying earnestly right then and there, don’t we instead mumble some half-hearted “God help them” prayer under our breath? How about when we are doing something like eating in front of people who are not believers? Are we bowing our heads and earnestly thanking God for our food and blessings or are we whispering it to ourselves afraid someone may hear and judge us?
Let’s dig deeper, now. When we do something, are we asking for recognition because, instead of being boastful in the Lord, we are working to cover our guilt in deeds and we need to be recognized for our works? We need a pat on the back to cover our shame, right? How about when you are a believer and your loved ones aren’t? Are we holding grudges against those people and judging them as Christians should be judged? Are we doing our best to show the unbeliever that we are Christ-like in spite of their unbelief? In these instances, are we doing our best to present ourselves as “one approved, a worker who correctly handles the word of truth”?
My twelve year old correctly handled it today. He obeyed a command on his heart to follow his change of heart with believer’s baptism and it was awkward and a little messy, but he was boasting in the Lord. At that moment, he knew that God was pleased with him. He knows we are wretched men, but that amazing Grace has literally saved our souls.
There are many times in my life I have been ashamed; though I do my best to present myself better, I often fail. Grace really is so amazing. I saw grace work first hand in my own son and more of that ice around my heart just chipped and melted away. Isn’t it amazing how the actions of a twelve year old can make me see the world with new eyes and understand God’s grace on a different level? I know the Word tells us what amazing things can come out of the mouths of babes, but man, today…I mean, it was a whole new level for me, you guys.
So, what I want to end with is grace. Have grace. Have grace for others and for yourself, but also, we need to hold ourselves more accountable. We need to recognize those moments that we mark off being “shameful” and reevaluate them. We need to rethink how we are following through with the Great Commission that Christ gave us before his ascension into heaven. He said to “go out and make disciples” but, friends, how can we do that if we don’t speak up? How can we do that if we are afraid of the messy days, bumpy roads, and ugly truths? The fact is, we (collectively) are not necessarily ashamed of the Gospel, but we are ashamed of the work we have to do to share it.
We are afraid and ashamed because we don’t want to get dirty and have people talking about us later. We don’t want anyone laughing behind our back even though the Bible CLEARLY tells us that is EXACTLY what is going to happen! WE WILL BE PERSECUTED! It is ugly, messy, and scary. Quit making it all pretty, because going through the ugly is what brings out the pretty.
So, friends, I plead with you, sister to sister and brother. Do not be ashamed, but also, handle the Word of Truth correctly. We can boast in the Lord all day long, but do it in a way that pleases God, not yourself.
And also, if you see Isaiah, give him a hug because he is a child of God, and taking the literal plunge was one of the hardest things he will ever face. I’m awed at God’s awesomeness.