Every Child
3/26/15 at 11:09 AM 0 Comments

Calling the Ordinary

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Calling the Ordinary

Today’s guest post is contributed by Dr. Steven Timmermans, executive director of Christian Reformed Church of North America. Dr. Timmermans is the husband of Dr. Barb Timmermans, a father of seven children and former president of Trinity Christian College.

My wife and I have never believed that only special parents have special needs kids. Contrary to some opinions, angels do not convene a meeting and assign a special needs child to the strongest, most eligible moms and dads. Whether by biological birth or adoption, ordinary parents are called to welcome children with special needs into their families.

We certainly didn’t feel especially equipped or prepared when our second biological child was born 28 years ago. We were shocked when we learned Paul had Down syndrome. He wasn’t the child we were expecting, and we were shattered.

Could “special” parents admit this? We didn’t know where to begin, but day-by-day, we saw how much God had to teach us.

Parents of toddlers have a front-row seat to original sin. Their tantrums and tirades surface early and often. Paul had an additional layer of unique challenges including language and motor delays. But Paul, like all of our children, was created in God’s image. His delight in family—gatherings, vacations, additions—is a reflection of his Creator, our God who specializes in families.

As parents, we need to focus on our children as image bearers; otherwise, we’d all give up on them somewhere between the first few months of sleepless nights and that battle of wills aptly known as the “terrible twos.”

But we don’t give up hope with any of our children, because God didn’t give up hope with us. More than that, He reached into His family and sent His son, Jesus, to save us—and our children. Salvation is about spiritual rebirth, but it’s also about life-long transformation—“sanctification” is the theological term. Children grow and transform into mature adults, and special needs children grow and mature as well. They may not become fully independent, but Paul has shown remarkable mature wisdom in his young adult life.

There was the time our friends were adopting two children, and Paul prayed one evening, asking God to help them because “You know all about adoption, God.” There was the time that Sunday morning in church when another child with Down syndrome was not complying. With neither encouragement nor permission, Paul walked across the front of the sanctuary to simply be present with this boy, calming him and turning the tide. He is in-tune with others and with God; that’s the way he was designed, and that’s the way he reflects the image of God.

My wife and I have learned a great deal from God and from Paul over the years, including this truth: God calls ordinary parents to love special needs children. He will teach you, equip you, and transform you to embark together on an extraordinary journey.

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