by Jenny Stricklin

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Without a doubt, my son’s autism has taught me more about the profound implications of the Gospel than any other life circumstance.

My beautiful, blue-eyed baby boy was two weeks shy of his third birthday, and a few little things we’d picked up on over the previous year led us to go ahead with a formal evaluation. After two days of assessments, we were given a diagnosis. We left the testing center that February afternoon, holding our wiggly little darling close as we brushed away inevitable tears. And in the days and weeks that followed, we waded through this new information, compared it with the three years of dreams that we’d accrued for him, and questioned what the future would look like for our little guy…and for us.

On one hand, it felt like a bomb had just gone off and we were sifting through the devastation, trying to piece together whatever we could find that resembled normal. Like any parent, we wanted nothing but the absolute best for our son, and now it seemed like somehow that had been snatched away from him.

But on the other hand, we knew that the little boy we took into that evaluation room was the exact same one who came out with us. He still wanted to play and be tickled and snuggled. He still loved reading books and playing at the playground. He was the same handsome little sweetheart that we’d spent the last three years loving and learning.

Undoubtedly, we’ve had both peaks and valleys as time has gone by. I remember vividly the emotional summer after he turned three, when I desperately hoped for even a tiny bit of progress in his significant speech delay. That’s the first time in this journey I remember the Lord delivering BIG time on that prayer, as his test results the following summer showed that his skill level was AHEAD for his age!

But it wasn’t too long ago that the Spirit took me to a new level of belief on my son’s behalf and burst open my narrow perspective of our circumstances…

Take a look at Paul’s response to the words the Lord spoke to him in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “’My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses… For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Or how about in John 9 when the disciples asked Jesus why the man was born blind? Jesus said, “…so that the works of God might be displayed in Him.” (vs. 3)

Or consider Moses, when commanded by God to go and speak to Pharaoh on behalf of the Israelites in Exodus 4, he said, O Lord, I’m not very good with words… I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”

As you know, Scripture is jam packed with upside-down, backwards logic. In fact, it’s not logical at all. For example, in God’s economy, weakness equals strength; the last shall be first; to save your life you have to lose it; foolish things shame the wise; death is life; and on and on. 

My problems and disappointment often come when I hope and plan for my son a life that lines up more with the American dream than the Kingdom agenda. Oh Lord, help me!

Of course, I want my son to be successful. Of course I want him to have nice friends. Of course I want to nurture his talents in sports, art or music. But none of those are the most important thing. In the end, all that matters is the greatness of our God. It’s ALL that matters. ALL. One day, we’ll be gone. But He remains. We are here to make much of Him. And every single person can do that with the cards they’ve been sovereignly dealt. And amazingly, when we don’t make a mad dash away from the weaknesses we’ve been given, but embrace them as a testimony to the Lord, we win!

As Hudson grows up, I want this to be his mantra! Just like Moses or the blind man or Paul, my Hudson has the incredible privilege to be a conduit of the supernatural, life-giving, wonder-working power of the Living God.

WHY WOULD I WISH THAT AWAY?!

Whether it’s in a blatantly obvious disability or a hidden difficulty, boasting in weakness is no small order. None of us want THAT on display. But this very act brings purpose straight into the heart of it. I never want Hudson to listen to the voices of culture and be ashamed or upset at the way God has brilliantly made him. After all, Psalm 139 is just as true of him as it is anyone else! And I’m expectant that the way I view him, believe God for him and speak about his difficulties might just become his perspective down the road.

I could write for hours about all the ways God has moved in our lives because of Hudson’s autism. (And if you’re curious, I’m an open book!) I wish you could know this precious little boy. I would duplicate him if I could. And yes, some days have been ridiculously HARD. But the bottom line is: his life is beautiful and full of purpose and value. And it sounds strange to say, but I am so very thankful for this road. To God be the glory!

Jenny Stricklin

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