Arizona. Vacation. At last. A chance to sleep in with nothing telling us to hurry up.
There’s a child in our bed, and he’s not ours. “EEEEEEEeeeeEEEEeeeeEEEEEEE!” He’s excited to see us. Oh, look. He’s in our bags now. He found some sunscreen. SPURT! Now there’s sunscreen all over the carpet. And the bed. And him.
Our hostess appears, apologizing, grabs her son and vamooses from the room.
And this is how I met their youngest. Through our week of vacation, I got to see him at his best. Oh, such a kid. I don’t envy his parents. This child is incredibly lovable and loving. I got more hugs out of him in one week than I do out of my kids for a month. He loves being held. He loves making noise. He trusts. If I took his hand, he had no questions. He would grab mine and ask for whatever he desired at that moment in that incredible way of his. He loves exploring and emptying everything and, well, being naked.
Their youngest child has autism.
Their child is someone you quickly either love or want to run away from. (Sometimes both, his parents assure me.)
I saw so much of me in this young boy.
On the ride back from Tombstone, he melted down. Too much stimulus. Get out of the car. Now. “OOOOOOOOOOO!” he wailed from the back of the van.
His mother reassured him verbally. Not much longer Ten miles. It’s ok. Not much longer.
“OOOOOOOOOOOO!” he mourned.
His mother reached back a hand. It’s ok. The end is coming. We’re almost there.
“OOOOOOOOOOOO!” he insisted.
And as he broke down, his mother unbuckled, shuffled to the back, and held him. And he calmed down.
And look. There I am.
Father, I’m done. I can’t take this anymore. Take it away from me.
And God is good. He’s taking me somewhere.
Oh, but I can’t take it anymore. It hurts. There’s too much going on all around. Please. Make it stop. My people don’t get it. I have to work so hard. I’m always depressed. I want it all to end. Just stop, please. Make it stop. And I wail. And I mourn.
But it’s not time to stop yet. We’re not to where God has chosen in his goodness for me to be yet.
But God comforts this child who calls out and can take no more. He reminds me of his love. He doesn’t end the ride… but he points me to how he’s taken care of me in the past. How he loved me in my shame. How he died for me, while I was yet a sinner. And though I have farther to go… it is better, because he is here.
This child that hosted us… he would run from one thing to another to another so fast. And he’d get into trouble – say, spraying sunscreen all over – and move on, no shame, no connection in what he’d done.
And look at me. I move from sin to “be busy” to sin to praising God so quickly. Look! I praise in church, glorying in Jesus loving me! And look! SPURT! Sunscreen all over! That’s me.
I’m God’s autist?
No. I’m pretty neuro-typical, from all I can tell. But that little boy and I have some things very much in common.
We are sinners.
Saved by grace.
Rescued by Jesus.
Still having sinful natures.
But now we have put on Christ.
I don’t envy his parents. This boy is lovable. Yes, after just a week of knowing him, I can say I love him. I can also say I don’t mind not being around the noise or that style of wake-ups. But… he helped me see me, maybe a little bit, as God sees me.
Someone he loves, despite the many times I prove I shouldn’t get that love.
This child didn’t “do” anything for me. He didn’t let me sleep in. He demanded attention. Demanded love. Demanded I let him outside.
And yet… and yet, I could not say no to loving him. And yes, I’m convinced he loved me in return.
God loved me. I have done nothing but demand from him. What could I possibly give him that he didn’t give me first?
And yet… he loves. He has not stopped himself from loving.
Thank you, Father.
Oh, look! Sunscreen! SPURT!