When her son was just 6 years old the swim instructor approached “mama” with irritation and a smirk on his face, “I’m not sure what to think of your son, it seems like to me he often doesn’t grasp what I am saying”. She knew her son struggled in communication, but often forgot until he was out in the world, how profound it was. Her only response, holding back tears, “he had a stroke before he was born – he has struggles”.
From the bleachers she watched her now 7 year old, become a target for annoyance once again, when another instructor showed irritation, indifference, agitation and yet another shaking of the head and tone of voice that would imply “what is wrong with you, why do you not understand”? Her son stood there, blondish brown hair, big brown eyes, looking as handsome and as normal in appearance as could be. Not getting in line like the rest of the children, made him stand out and become an almost spectacle. “Mama” watched as the instructor continued to repeat with more forceful tone, and yet the boy stood in a daze completely not connecting what was going on around him.
Enter “mama” to the rescue. She darted down from midway up the bleachers. Ready to save her son. Taking him by the hand and leading him to the back of the line. She rushed home that day in a panic. “we’ve got to teach him what a line is”. The family came alongside him, but even still, it was God’s timing for the understanding to come. And this would not be the day.
Age 10, her son had continued in swimming lessons. He had gained much ground and was swimming quite well. The free style stroke, which he had worked so incredibly hard on, never one complaint, was still not smooth to say the least. For “mama”, it was the most beautiful thing to see her son who had struggled and fought tirelessly inside her womb for life, was now fighting his way down the entire length of the pool, working so hard, and making it happen. Yes, the left side of his body affected the overall stride and he looked very contorted. His cerebral palsy did not result in a twisted walk, but rather significant cognitive challenges and showed itself physically, in his great efforts, to make all the limbs go in the “proper” order in the water.
Feeling thankful to God for how far He had taken her son, the moment of joy was interrupted by someone suggesting: “you know swimming is just not going to be his strong area. It’s so important to find that thing that he excels at.” All I knew to say at the moment as I fought back tears of defeat, “well considering that he was not even expected to live, had a stroke in utero, I marvel at the fact the he is making his way”. And there was silence…
“Mama” rushed home feeling frantic again. What in the world can we find that he will excel in? He loves sports, but teams overwhelm him with the many things to process at one time. Panic, panic, panic. And doubt set in. And then… the Lord reminded her once again of this truth. “Your boy is valuable and a treasure simply because He is Mine. Nothing he ever does will make him less or more. He’s my creation, he is designed perfectly for My plan. And created for MY glory. Every life is sovereingly ordained by Me. The child that sits in a wheelchair, the child that struggles with communication, the children that the world calls specials needs – I call by Name and they are Mine. It is MY way of telling the world, this life is not about you, it’s about ME. My power, MY purpose, My plan, My way. And that is a very different purpose than what the world thinks. So trust Me. His worth is in ME, in Christ alone. The world doesn’t recognize ME in every ability I give out everyday – No ONE can wake up for another day with the ability to breathe and a heart beating without ME making it happen. ”
Another year later, “mama” sat again watching her boys at swimming lessons. She loved watching both her boys progress, work hard, and achieve, and she would remember it was God that made all things possible – including the gift He had given her in granting her the privilege to be a “mama”.
A line formed again this day for her 11 year old son’s class. Her son was at the back of the line. Each child took his turn laying on the mat to be physically shown how to move legs in the proper technique for the breast stroke. Each child took a turn and stepped aside. Soon 8 kids were standing aside and her son was next. She watched from the bleachers. She watched her son, but he didn’t lay down and take his turn like the rest. What was the teacher saying to him? He went back to grab his float board, and jumped into the water alone. “Mama’s” heart began to feel panic. She’s been trying so hard to learn to “let go”. Is he confused with the instructions? Then… it happended. All the children above were instructed to watch. An audience of 8 watched as he gracefully, and beautifully swam across the pool demonstrating proper form for the breast stroke. You see, the breast stroke comes easy for him. It’s the most difficult of all swim strokes to get down in the swim sport. The instructor had told “mama” a few weeks prior how she was marveling at his ability and strength in this one area. Even the best athletes struggle with this one to perfect it. And for this boy, it…comes….easy……
Mama sat there at that moment with tears welling in her eyes, this day her son was a spectacle in the best kind of way. For this was truly the power of God working in him. (For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will. Phil 2:13). No one else around to celebrate with her. And most likely anyone else around wouldn’t even understand the magnitude of the need to celebrate. There was One, Jesus. She whispered, “thank you Jesus”, ” thank you Jesus” from the deepest place of gratitude in her heart for the work He was doing. She knew this was Jesus demonstrating His glory and power. (Now to him who is ABLE to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, be the GLORY. Eph 3:20)
He finished his class that day. She asked him, “do you know why you were in the water by yourself?” He understood. With pure humility said that he needed to show everyone else how to do it. “did you know that is the most difficult swim stroke to learn for even professionals? Your instructor had told me a few weeks back that for some reason you just know how to do it.” Simply he said – “it’s not difficult for me, it’s easy”. Powerful words because “mama” knew that rarely did her son master a new task with ease. She pointed him to the Savior, she said: “that’s because God gave you the ABILITY to do that – THAT is God working in you!”. He beamed.
“Mama” and her boys left that day. This time she was not frantic, not feeling she had to rush home and do something to make this better. This time she drove home continuing to say “thank You Jesus, thank You Jesus”-
Life is precious. It is ordained by God. Every breath in our lungs, every beat of our hearts only happens because God gives the ability to make it happen. Take it down to the core elements that make us alive – lungs and a heart, and this life can’t be about us anymore. It has to be about the Creator and sustainer of life. It’s His life, HIs glory due His name. It’s not about us living for our glory, it’s about Him showing this “mama” at the very beginning of her first born son’s life still in the womb – that He IS the One to sustain, He IS the One to give breath to our lungs, He IS One that makes life happen and chooses the abilities of us all. It is HE Who points us to the Savior because we all are disabled apart from Him. It is He who takes the humble and weak and makes them able to accomplish His purpose. It is He Who deserves all glory and honor and praise.
******Please note our boys have taken swim instruction since they were very tiny. In all these years, God has blessed us with the best of instructors. Each one has served a purpose in the life of our boys. We have been blessed with much encouragement and support. And we do not hold anyone accountable for any adverse reaction to our boy – it has only been the greatest avenue to teach our own heart to consider “GRACE” and what that should look like in our extension to others.
Take these feet
I know they stumble
But You use the weak
You use the humble
So, please use me
All I am is Yours
I give You all my life
I’m letting it go
A living sacrifice
No longer my own
All I am is Yours
All I am is Yours
I give You everything
To You I belong
Every beat of my heart
The breath in my lungs
All I am is Yours
All I am is Yours
I lift my hands up
God I surrender
All that I am
For Your glory, Your honor