Come to Jesus

“…And I’ll never turn away the one who comes to me.”
John 6:37

My father pastors a church that’s a good distance away from where we live so we don’t get to visit as often as I’d like. But when we go there, we’re home.

At the end of the service, the “doors of the church are opened.” This means that anyone who wants to can come -just as they are – to receive prayer, to join the church, to give their life to the Lord. It is a powerful, heartfelt time of decision.

A few weeks ago when the doors of the church were open, we all stood to our feet and sang a hymn. Rhema slid out of the pew and into the aisle. (We always sit in the last rows in case we need to make a fast getaway.) She had her iTouch in hand, and she did a little tip-toe dance in the aisle. I whispered her name and held out my hand attempting to coax her back to her seat. But she ignored me, hummed a little tune and hopped further down the aisle.

I knew that if I tried to lead her back to her seat, skirts were bound to fly, and the pastor’s daughter and granddaughter would end up in a wrestling match in the middle of the aisle while the choir sang “Come To Jesus.”  

So I resolved to do nothing but quietly follow her ambling steps down the aisle.

As people noticed her slow progression I could almost hear a collective intake of breath. One woman said softly, “Let her go.” Another whispered, “Praise the Lord.” Others encouraged, smiled and nodded.

These friends – sisters and brothers – have prayed for our family, for our Rhema, for so many years. They rejoice over every “inch”stone she acheives and celebrate every utterance and happy noise she makes. They love and accept her completely as she is.

But I couldn’t just let her go. She might do something inappropriate like strip and jump into the baptistry behind the pulpit.

So, meekly, I followed. As we neared the front a thought crossed my mind that left me rather panicked.

Oh no. Maybe I’m supposed to go up front. Maybe, just maybe, right now God is leading her, and she is leading me. To that sweet throne of grace. Maybe right now I need prayer. Maybe I need to fall on my face and cry Lord, I need you. Maybe I’m the one who needs to open my clenched fists, examine my heart, and give it all to Jesus again and again – my burdens, my sin, my shame, my pride, my hopes and waiting-on-answer prayers, me.

Finally we reached the front. We were only there briefly. She hummed and rocked a little. Then she resumed her iTouch game and meandered back down the aisle.

Afterwards my parents and I chuckled about it. We agreed that you just never know how God might be speaking into the hearts of our young ones. Even though Rhema cannot sit through a Sunday school lesson or sing in the children’s choir or even articulate what she knows, I’m trusting she knows; God is developing a special relationship with her.

And it’s just like that girl to push me closer, too. (Although there were no public demonstrations from me that day, later I spent some much needed time pouring out my heart in prayer… in my closet.)

“They say that I can move the mountains
And send them crashing into the sea
They say that I can walk on water
If I would follow and believe
with faith like a child.

They say that love can heal the broken
They say that hope can make you see
They say that faith can find a Savior
If you would follow and believe
with faith like a child” ~Jars of Clay

One thing I know. 

She is not afraid to come.

She’s not hindered by the details – the tradition or position or what anyone else thinks. When the Spirit of God moves her, she moves.

She just seems to trust that she will be received… into arms wide open.

I must, I must follow her lead.

 

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

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*We visited a new church last week with my dear friend Cha. Again Rhema felt the need to go to the front of the church. Only this time she did so in the middle of the sermon. The pastor did not miss a beat. He simply said, “Well, hey there!”, and the whole congregation smiled.

Click here for one of my favorite “Come to Jesus” scenes.

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19 thoughts on “Come to Jesus

  1. It always amazes me (although perhaps it shouldn’t!), the way people with special needs respond to God and the move of His spirit. There is no shame, no sideways glances to see if anyone is watching…they just come…or move…open their hearts in ways we don’t even know.

  2. My dear Sister, I know all too well that pride is a heavy ball and chain that we all drag around, but God so lovingly shows us what may be weighing us down and holding us back, and all we need to do is release it to Him. I pray that you continue to yield to His calling. I thank God for Rhema and Hope for allowing God’s light to shine through them. Every blog you write is a reminder to me that God is full of grace and mercy, and I truly believe that He and Rhema share many wonderful conversations together. There is a song that says “look into your pain and find your grace”. I thank God for His grace, and His faithfulness. I love you, Suzanne.

  3. You just never know why she went up there at that moment! Although I will say, I had to laugh about the thing of stripping down and jumping in the water. We’ve only had our son in church with us a couple of times, one of which ended in him pulling his pants off and the other grabbing a fistful of money from the collection plate and having a very loud meltdown when he had to put it back. The ipod touch is a good idea for helping him sit longer- hadn’t thought of that one. Thanks for another encouraging post. 🙂

  4. Autism has given us hard hearts at times. We have been angry, confused, disappointed…in God. This wasn’t supposed to happen to our Rhema, you know. But, Neally and I love the video clip above because it is a picture of what Jesus, and only Jesus, can do as Creator and Savior–he gently redeems our hard hearts even in the worst of circumstances. If your heart is hard and you are losing yourself (we’ve been there), then I point you to Jesus. I know of no other way. Thank you, Rhema, for leading us to Him.

  5. Hey, good idea on the IPod touch. I think I’ll use it Sunday. Oh, wait, it’s for the kids?

    That sounded a lot better in my head than it does here. Well, I tried.

  6. I could picture the entire thing. I think God would have chuckled a bit if you guys had started to wrestle down the aisle. Your words are so powerful and so full of truth. I always feel that I don’t even have the words to respond….I will say thank because your words are a true gift from God to me.

  7. Hi there, I read your blog routinely and I just can’t get over how beautifully you write and how gracefully you handle even the toughest situations. I simply can’t imagine how difficult it must be for your little Rhema to be locked inside with such difficulty in communication, something I take for granted. Your blog gives me such perspective on the truly important things in life and has moved me to tears more than once!

  8. I agree. A beautiful picture of faith like a child. Have you heard the Caedmon’s Call song ‘Sacred’? She says, ‘my cup overflows. And I worry about the stain.’ As the parent we are so inhibited by all those what-ifs. Our son James is ‘high functioning’ but we’ve walked out of church during meltdowns for things like not getting his own songbook and had to take him home to change clothes after huge accidents.

    Then he reads (he’s a very serious reader) about the righteous and the wicked. It’s so black and white clear in his head. He’ll outright declare over dinner that uncle so-and-so is wicked. Not for us to decide. But’s he’s probably right. Alleluia for clear thinking and faith like a child!

  9. As a mother of a daughter on the spectrum and a sister in Christ, I sat here and read this post…just bawling. Your words were a salve to my spirit…a reminder that sometimes the person God wants to work on is me. I am reminded through your insights that God’s ways are not our ways & that He speaks to each person in a way uniquely suited to that person. While I feel the burden of responsibility to teach my child about Jesus, He knows just how to speak to her heart. And to mine. Thank you for your words and for your experiences. They are a precious gift to me today.

  10. I needed this so much. Just stumbling onto your site for the first time, led by another site…or the Spirit. The reminder to believe that God is there with my son, leading him to a relationship of some kind, was really really really precious. I’ll be coming back here again.

  11. Pingback: Nearer « Autism In a Word

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