Monday, April 10, 2017

Special Needs/Easter Joy

Psalm 16:11, “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

As much as I wish spring could be a bit more dramatic here in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, there is much to treasure about this season.  It brings Easter! It is the most significant event on the Christian calendar because without the resurrection, there would be no hope.  Easter is pure joy and ushers in a sense of new life and restoration.  It meets our greatest need….the promise of eternity with God.

Something happened several months ago that painted a picture of Jesus’ tender love. It was a moment that could have passed without recognition.  Praise God, I got that nudge to pay attention allowing God to teach me something valuable through the eyes of my grandson – one who is defined as having “special needs” because he was born with Down syndrome.

Jacob is a solid little boy, 5 years old, operating on full speed unless he is sleeping.  He has mastered sign language, has wonderful cognitive skills and long, involved conversations illustrated by an expressive face.  He has limited words in his vocabulary but Jacob sometimes speaks in ways that only God can make plain…and this moment was one of those times.

Jacob’s daddy (my stepson) lives in a house fronting Lake Michigan. One day Jacob and I were outside on the deck watching the horizon for whatever wonderful sights might appear.  I sat down to get more on his level.  Jacob was “talking” and gesturing and I was nodding so he would think I was engaged in his conversation.

At one point he reached over, touched my chin and pointed my face toward the lake, determined to show me whatever was in his line of vision. I reassured him we were looking in the same direction (again, the head nodding!) 

And then….it happened.  Jacob bent down (he was standing next to me and I was still in a sitting position on the deck itself), cupped my face with his hands and gently leaned into me.  I could hardly breathe for the beauty of the moment.  (As I said, this little boy rarely stands still and makes his wishes known loudly and vehemently.)  However, in this moment, time stood still.  It was so very tender and intimate.  Our moment.  Jacob’s and mine. And God’s.

As we read the Biblical narrative of the events taking place before and after “Easter”, how do we see this man, Jesus?  The people of His day loved Him one moment and called for His death a few days later.  They thought He came to rescue them as their “king” and when He didn’t do that, they were filled with rage.

He surely wasn’t a king in a royal sense.  He said very little when the accusations flew at Him.  He’d had a lot to say throughout His ministry including words of forgiveness as well as conviction.  Jesus healed many, performed amazing miracles and taught the people about God and His kingdom. He will come back as a conquering king one day! 

But I believe, my moment with Jacob out on his deck, was a picture of how Jesus speaks to me in a way that touches my heart.  Just as Jacob wrapped his chubby little fingers around my face, cupping my cheeks as he leaned into me…so does Jesus approach me with tenderness and intimacy. 

The Bible describes the full drama of the Easter narrative but I especially cherish reading about His kind, intimate acts: from the cross Jesus made arrangements for John to care for His mother; when the women discovered the tomb was empty, Jesus appeared to them so they would be assured He was alive;  He allowed Thomas to tenderly touch the nail holes in His wrists. 

Jesus was God in the flesh while on earth and now lives in heaven.  One day He will return to earth with glory and fanfare.  But in the “now”, I love how He sweetly cups my face in His hands, not literally but through His Word, and through the love of His earthly children.  

When my friend calls to say she is praying for me, Jesus is speaking words of love.  When my seven year old grandson tells me that he loves and misses me, I experience Jesus.  When my husband affirms and serves me, I know Jesus is on the move in my life. Easter brings all that to mind.  I LOVE EASTER. Hallelujah!


  1. This is a beautiful picture of your grandson's tender love and the way Jesus loves us that way. Thank you!

  2. Leslie, I am going back over my posts and didn't realize I didn't reply. But it's never too late. So thank you!