“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” – Romans 8:18
Can I be honest with you?
Before I became a special needs parent, I didn’t really look forward to Heaven. Don’t get me wrong, it sure beat the alternative, but I had enough. I was happy enough. I had enough comfort, enough health and enough love and stability. Enough to be satisfied with just having enough. But Jesus wants me to have so much more than an enough life. Jesus wants me to have an abundant life (John 10:10). How sad is it to settle for enough, when God offers abundance?
To live in light of Heaven is to look forward to a life that will be abundantly happy, abundantly comfortable, and abundantly full of love, health and stability that will last forever, and yet, it’s so hard to do. It’s hard to imagine a world that is more real and lasting than the one that we are walking through and tasting and breathing in everyday – when this is the only reality we have ever known. Heaven is an amazing place, filled with unspeakable, undiminished, unfathomable joy. That’s just it. We can’t fathom it.
Then, God blessed me with a special needs child.
For the first few years, I believed God would heal Luke in this life. I prayed to that end. I claimed Scriptures for Luke, and made various promises to God of all I would do when Luke’s disability was gone. I envisioned myself as the woman who pled with Jesus on behalf of her son in Matthew 15, and Jesus eventually rewarded her perseverance and faith by granting her request for his healing, but I pondered within myself, what if God’s plan was not to heal Luke (at least not in this life), but instead for me to declare that His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). What if I am more useful to God now? Could I still get on board with His plan, then?
I remember one day in particular, not long ago, when I finally started to let go of the notion that Luke would be miraculously healed in this life. It was a sober realization. I looked around at the visual schedules plastered all over my house, and the too-big-than-anyone-should-have-to-buy-for-their-kid diapers, and I thought to myself:
This is my life.
It sounds very doom and gloom to type it out like that, but that wasn’t the attitude. It was acceptance. It was surrender. It was courageous.
Then, a still small voice whispered back from within me.
This is NOT your life.
This world is not all there is. This is a blip on the radar. I needed to truly grasp this – to start living like I believed that a life was coming where there would be no fear or sadness or uncertainty. I knew I could never accurately imagine the unimaginable, but I decided to try. If I was going to live for Heaven I had to start by thinking about Heaven. So, on the days when it just felt like too much, I would lay in bed and as I faded off to sleep and I would picture myself There. It would go something like this:
I’m in the throne room, warmth and light surrounding me so brightly that I can see little else than the billowing robe that fills the temple. I feel unabated joy as I sing and dance and worship before the Lord. Then, I suddenly become aware that the Savior is standing beside me. He takes off His crown and robe and lays them aside as He reaches His nail-scarred hand toward me. “Walk with me,” he beckons.
We are strolling Heaven’s streets. He doesn’t say a word, but the silence isn’t awkward, it’s peaceful. A pleasant smile plays at His lips. I’m enjoying just being near Him – just being in His presence. He suddenly stops and stares expectantly into the distance. I follow His gaze. What does he see? My eyes dart back and forth between His face and the horizon, but it’s so bright, I can’t make anything out. After several seconds, something starts to come into view. The outline of a figure is moving toward us.
I glance back at the Savior to see a broad smile spread across His face. He looks at me with this joyful face and stares directly into my eyes. I detect anticipation in His demeanor as he unexpectedly bursts into laughter and taking up the hem of His garment, takes off running in the direction of the figure. I run after Him, breathlessly trying to keep up. He bounds, full-speed into the arms of the figure, nearly bowling him over. I can now see it is a young man. There is something oddly familiar about his sandy blonde hair, and his eyes – like two pools of deep blue. I am merely a wallflower, watching Jesus greet him with such excitement and joy, like an old friend after many years apart. It reminds me of the day I arrived Home.
Then Jesus turns the young man around and gestures him toward me. “Mom! It’s me!” I hear him declare in the clearest, most beautiful, baritone voice. I’m instantly rendered speechless as I look back and forth between Jesus and the young man, who is now coming toward me. He throws his arms around my neck, “I love you, Mom!”
“Luke?” I venture. “Yes! Mom! It’s me!” I finally muster the faculties to hug him back. “I love you, too, baby!”
He goes on to articulate, with great eloquence and ease, all about how God used his autism to work in his life. He says he understands all the decisions I made to help him on Earth. He is thankful for my love and for the good I did him. He forgives me the mistakes I made. As I listen, I am overwhelmed as I realize that he is every bit the son I knew, yet without his former difficulties. He is wholly my Luke.
Jesus puts his arm around Luke, as He reaches out and takes my face into His other hand. Beaming, He says, “Now remember, no more tears.”
“No more tears,” I repeat, as the three of us walk in Glory.
THAT is my life.