Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Works of God: John Piper

The Works of God: God's Design in Disability was the title of the conference we attended this past week.  It was put on by Bethlehem Baptist in Mounds View, MN. I walked into the lobby of Bethlehem's North Campus and immediately had one of those "I'm going to lose it" moments.  It takes so much planning and preparation to go out of town for a day (I worked out four), pack up and just get to an event that I hadn't prepared myself to be surrounded by people with disabilities and other parents or family members of a person with disabilities in any sort of Christian setting before.  Any training or help I've gotten has needed to be filtered through my world view and adapted to our lives as Christians.  This was different.  This was "God's Design in Disability".  The lobby was flooded with books on disability, vendors who helped churches develop disability programs, a family respite retreat program, and many others. I was completely overwhelmed by the familiarity of life I shared with those around me.  I didn't speak to anyone as I was doing whatever I could to swallow the lump in my throat that was pushing tears toward my eyes.  I stepped outside for some fresh air and changed the subject with Andy.  I didn't know what he was feeling and couldn't quite express what was going on in me either.

I was relieved to be seated as saw the first speaker was John Piper, someone I respected and enjoy listening to.  I thought he was a safe opening speaker as I expected a diatribe on the theology of suffering or biblical dissection of what the bible said about disability.  I took a deep breath and thought "safe".  I could keep it together through something like this, and besides how could it be personal when I knew he was not disabled and didn't have a child with disabilities.  Surely, he wouldn't cause my tears to erupt.  I was so wrong...  I completely came unglued by his love and compassion for me (& people like me) simply because he had pastored so many through the world of disability.  His genuine love and respect of our journey, yet refusal to water down the truths of scripture in the midst of suffering was nothing short of spirit filled.

I heard in that message a theme I had never heard.  He spoke of how to live this life well.  I've heard about enduring more than I care to, but living in victory as our lives are on display and the purpose of that made me want to jump out of my seat and yell, "AMEN!"  We don't want pity or empty platitudes like, "God give special kids to special people" or "all things work together for good" or "He'll never give you more than you can handle".  That stuff doesn't help in the midst of the constant clubbing of this life.  I want to know that God speaks to serious joy in the midst of suffering.  I've heard of seasons, but that doesn't seem to help either.  Knowing that suffering and joy are re-occuring events doesn't make the suffering easier, but striving for the joy in the midst of it is... true hope.  I want to tell my story and share my pains, but to reveal the one who sustains be.  I want to see the majesty of God and be blown away by it on the mountain tops as well as in the valleys.  Serious Joy... it's not giddy and dependent on the circumstances, but it's a deeper reality of the sovereignty and goodness of our God.

Since I can't do it any justice in my commentary, it will be up soon on desiringgod.org, and I encourage everyone to watch it.  This conference was indeed for me this year.  It was to heal some of the wounds in my heart and remind me of what I've been called to and what I haven't been.  It was hearing other people and their journeys to glorify God through this life.

The next speaker impacted my life forever... More to come on Krista and her book soon...

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