What I Learned From Some Disabled Christians

Amid a fun week at a Joni & Friends Family Retreat, I had a shocking revelation come to me. The whole week carried the feel of God’s work in unspoiled splendor, both in dedicated servants and blessed families who deal with the multifaceted issues that is life with a disability. My wife, Alicia, even got to be her beautiful, passionate self as Retreat speaker. Still, in the midst of all that, I was jolted with a thought that still resonates through my heart.

It was the night of the camp talent show. You probably have never seen anything like it, which is your sad loss. Among many moving moments I saw a blind, angel-voiced, young lady sing “Jesus Understands” like she really believed it. A blind young man composed poetry on the spot that went straight to Christ in a way only one who walked with Him could understand. I saw another who quoted long portions of Scripture whose disability affected his sight, hearing, mobility, and voice as one who believed it with all his heart. Others with various disabilities sang with obvious sincerity. Choked-up moments came from every direction.

Then there was a moment when a young man with Downs Syndrome sang with his loving father. As you might imagine, he was off key. Musically, probably every rule was broken. Yet there was the look on his face. There was the passion in his voice that little knew where to land on the scale. I went from thinking how it sounded to me to how it sounded to God. Then the thought hit me–Jimmy, have you ever worshipped God on the same level he was as he sang? Sadly, the answer was no.

His worship was simple and that is a complement. It is actually like God Who is also simple. It is you and I who are complex. It is we who have competing motivations–good and bad, God’s glory and my glory. Duplicity is the ugly fact of our lives. The Lord is not that way, nor was that young man. May God help me, as I realized as I listened to that disabled young man sing, who really had the spiritual disability. Lord, help me be like him!

NOTE: There were too many awesome things done by those with a disability to mention them all! One young man ran a rickety sound system for the talent show. Besides that I even saw several with some level of physical limitation who served as an STM (Short Term Missionary). One young lady in a chair sang “Blessings” in a way that every line pulled on your heart. There were so many families whose love for their child or spouse shone through. It was a little beyond my ability to describe!


My wife has written a passionate piece inspired by the same camp on the risk of practical love here.

For more information about these wonderful Joni & Friends Family Retreat please click here.

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