SPECIAL PEOPLE

Andy Hollifield 5-5-17

Matthew 18:1-6 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? (2) And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, (3) And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (4) Whosoever shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (5) And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. (6) But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Psalms 127:3-4 Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. (4) As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are the children of thy youth.

Children. A term used to describe adults affectionately as well as the nation of Israel as they were God’s chosen people. It is a term that is used 1803 times in 1516 verses in the bible. The term “little children” is used 20 times in scripture but not always pertaining to young children. The verses listed above are definitely pertaining to young children. I don’t usually use this post as a soap box for my opinions and I hope it will not be viewed as such.

Yesterday was the first Thursday in May which was designated in 1988 by then President Ronald Reagan as the National Day of prayer. A law had been signed in 1952 by Harry Truman officially designating the day as a holiday even though the date wasn’t officially designated until President Reagan did it in 1988. It had actually been called for by the First Continental Congress in 1775 but wasn’t enacted until President Abraham Lincoln did it in 1863. Below you can read the statement by Mr. Lincoln to designate the day:

WHEREAS, The Senate of the United States; devoutly recognizing the Supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.
And Whereas, it is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
And, inasmuch as we know that by His Divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity.
We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown.
BUT WE HAVE FORGOTTEN GOD.
We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; And have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!
IT BEHOOVES US, THEN, TO HUMBLE OURSELVES BEFORE THE OFFENDED POWER, TO CONFESS OUR NATIONAL SINS,
AND TO PRAY TO THE GOD THAT MADE US!

His statement continued with the legal talk with all the whereas and wherefores you would expect. Can you imagine a president using the forthright and honest language used by Mr. Lincoln today? He didn’t sound like he was too concerned with offending anyone and wanted to make sure that we as a nation did not continue to offend God. I am afraid that our country has gone a long way down the road from what Mr. Lincoln viewed as a nation that had forgotten and offended God. Now, popular culture would have us to be offended by the presence of God in our country or the mere mention of his name.

But along with the NDP, at least in our county of Buncombe, it was a special day for another reason. It was the day for the annual Special Olympics. A day set aside for athletic competition for those children and adults least able to compete among us. A day that, should we accept the lessons, would teach all of us about heart, character, determination, and perseverance. It would teach us about people who spend their entire lives facing and overcoming insurmountable obstacles. These least capable but most durable and determined of our citizens can teach us a lot about facing adversity. It is not merely an annual challenge to them but a daily way of life. On this day, win or lose, they will face the same challenges tomorrow, and the next day, and for all of their tomorrows. Children and adults with diseases that the rest of us probably know little or nothing about but yet coping with the hardships is a daily struggle for these folks. In most cases, they complain far less than the rest of us. In some cases, they know they are different but don’t really know why. They respond to the most simple gestures of love and attention with an open heart of devotion to the ones that are willing to give them even a smile. They are far more forgiving than most of us and far less likely to hold a grudge. Far quicker to trust and far more vulnerable when that trust is betrayed. All that they require on a personal level is love, understanding, and attention. Their physical needs may vary and can be very demanding but are often rewarded with a loving smile of gratitude that makes it all worthwhile.

You see, I understand a little about this because I am the dad of an autistic son. We have lived the struggles and continue to and always will. It has been a long road since before birth till now. No two days are the same but yet they never change. Anyone that has lived with a child with disabilities of any kind understands this. From jumping out of bed still asleep in response to a heart monitor going off to having to put a child on the school bus that is unable to talk and tell you anything about his day. Those are just a couple of the daily struggles that a parent goes through. That is nothing compared to what some of these children go through 24/7 365. That is only a child with a learning disability but those with physical disabilities have it far tougher. They live with the fear of that heart monitor going off and not being able to react or cry out for help. We can’t even begin to imagine what they have to live through physically and in their minds.

Contrary to popular belief, all of these people are not incapable of learning. Sometimes it has more to do with us being incapable of teaching. The great thing is that they forgive our shortcomings and love us unconditionally. A lot of these folks are extremely bright and talented. Some are artistic or musically gifted and some are even academically gifted or even athletically. The movie “Rain Man” while not totally accurate was a very good depiction of folks with learning disabilities. The movie “Forrest Gump” has always been one of my favorites because it shows the all the attributes I listed earlier that these folks have. While movies may depict it for a couple of hours, these people and their caregivers live it around the clock. While a lot of folks would think that events like this give caregivers a much-needed break, that isn’t the case. Physically it may for some but for a lot of others, it just adds more stress and work to the day so these folks can have a day of enjoyment with folks like them. I am not trying to get a pity party started for caregivers because they will tell you this is just what they do. Anyone that has ever been a caregiver for these types of situations or even an adult that can’t care for themselves will tell you they are just doing what they have to do.

In the middle of real life comes this day. A day when all of these athletes for a day are treated like royalty and it is all about them for a few hours. It is a day when everyone is there to celebrate them and their accomplishments no matter how big or small. It is a day when they are completely spoiled and hear their name over the loudspeaker and hear the crowd applauding them. Some actually have blinding speed but most don’t. Some have cannon arms but most don’t. Some can really jump far but most can’t. But don’t tell them! As far as they know, they are the best in the world, after all, they are competing in the Olympics. They are world-class athletes! No, really, they are world class athletes! They put on display all of the characteristics and attributes that any coach loves to see in his star athletes. The sportsmanship, comradery, love of the game, the thrill of competition, but not really the agony of defeat. You see, they really are all winners! Not a cliché just a fact. For this one day, they push themselves beyond their ability and do it because they are having fun. Tomorrow it will be out of necessity and maybe even for survival. But on this day, on this day it truly is for the love of the game!

So when you see one of these folks in the store or at a restaurant, be polite enough to make eye contact and smile and say hello. Maybe even hold the door for them and give them a gentle pat on the back. Just treat them like a person because that is what they are and how they want to be treated. A kind word to their caregiver/parent will make more of a difference in their life than what you could possibly imagine. These children, regardless of their age or disability, are still “an heritage of the Lord.” They truly are “special people.” Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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