Pat is a young woman with Downs Syndrome.  She is short and stocky with black hair.  She doesn’t often smile or express herself.  Her words are few. When I first met her, I imagined it was because she was lower functioning but later I realized it was her particular personality.  She is a quiet person, thoughtful and concerned.  Raised in a Christian home, her parents had taught her well the ways of the Lord. 

Her mother, Maurene, shared with me an incident that brought the grief of Pat’s disability back to the forefront of her mind.  It was after the wedding of Pat’s brother.  The mother of the bride came weeping and squalling to Maurene.  “You’re so lucky,” she said between her convulsive tears.  “You’ll always have Pat.  You’ll never have to go through this painful time of giving her away.”

Maurene looked the woman in the eye, “Have you lost your mind?” she bluntly asked from shock.  “This is the normal process of life.  This is part of a normal passage from childhood to adulthood–weddings, having her own home, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren.  With Pat, I have never known and I will never know the joy of normal.”

The Patriarch Jacob was a man who didn’t have a normal passage from childhood to adulthood. He had tricked his father and brother, Esau, and now he was suffering the consequences.  Sleeping alone on a lonely road, running for his life, Jacob had a dream.  God came to him and told Jacob that he would be with Jacob.  God promised to bless Jacob with many children and that he assured Jacob that he would come back to this land.  God promised to give the land to Jacob.

God said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham, your grandfather and the God of Isaac.  I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are now sleeping.  Your descendants will be as many as the dust of the earth” (Genesis 28:13 and 14 NCV).

But God in this verse says, “I AM.”  He is a God of the present. His name is I AM–always living in the present.  Whether we are living with disabilities or not, the joy of living comes from imitating God by treasuring today. 

As youth, we usually live in the future.  Penning all our hopes and dreams on what will happen and what is to come.  As we become adults and adjust to old age, we begin to live in the past.  The old days are the best and so we live with our children when they were small and friendships were young and vibrant.  But whether we are young or old, God desires us to live in the present.

Yet on the other hand, God is also the master of the future.  He told Jacob, “I’ll give you and your children…”  We don’t have to fear the future while we are living in the present because God holds the future–our future–in his mighty hands.  I think the greatest comfort I am able to give my members is to assure them that God sees their future.  Most of our members live with the uncertainties of a future without their parents.  Looming in their minds is the spectre that inquires with sinister doubts, “What will happen to me when my parents are gone?”

God also reminds us as he reminded Jacob, he is the God of the past.  He said, “I am the God of Abraham and Isaac.”  Jesus said at the Last Supper, “Remember me.”  While we must live in the present, memories are to be cherished.  We must learn from the lessons of the past while never losing grasp of today.  

Maurene has helped Pat to live today.  And perhaps that is the only normal way to live.

What is the one thing that your members seem to be concerned about?  Are you able to address it?  Do you reassure them that God will take care of them as he did in the past?  What are some tricks you use to help you stay centered in the present?

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