I am always inspired and encouraged when we have one of our Rising Above worship services for the special needs community. Sometimes I just watch the children as they interact with each other or during children's worship, and I am amazed at how much they teach us. We always call the children down to the front of the room for a special time of children's worship. We sing fun songs with lots of movements and interactive gestures. Special buddies assist the children who need it so that everyone despite the disability gets to participate.
There was a moment a couple of weeks ago when I looked up on stage at the volunteers leading the worship time and saw a tender beautiful scene unfold. The two volunteers who were leading had been joined on stage by two of our children with special needs. One little boy has such a deformity in his feet that he can't wear shoes. He was dancing before the Lord while standing on the tops of his toes as they were curled and tucked in behind his feet. Beside him stood another boy who was born without the middle part of his brain.
And here they were leading all of us in worshipping God.
In front of them were all these kids with disabilities and special needs dancing, singing, and in their own unique ways celebrating and praising God.
Then this past weekend at another Rising Above chapter's worship service, I watched a 15 year-old autistic boy who was fairly non-verbal just 3-4 years ago sing, twirl, and worship in front of the crowd. In fact, the first time he ever opened his mouth to sing anything was at our Vacation Bible School. Up until then he spoke a few words, but not many. That summer he learned "jesus Loves Me' and now will sing it anytime he can. He led the opening prayer.
Watch these kids long enough and you begin to realize that they don't make any distinctions or notice any differences about each other. They don't define other people or label other people. They don't elevate or place one person or group over others.
They don't pay attention to how they are different. They simply focus on what they have in common.
They focus on what unites them, not what divides them. In their eyes, they are all equal. They are more alike than different.
As such they encourage each other. They play together, celebrate together, and cry together.
They are better together.
And I think of how much better our world would be if we were just like them
What if we recognized that we are all broken? What if we recognized we are all wounded? What if we all focused on doing life together?
What if we learned joy can be found in the simplest of things? That joy can be found with just a few things. And in all things. Just joy.
What if we learned to worship with passion and to worship uninhibited? What if we learned that just like them to look at what unites us.
What if we learned to be better together?
Sometimes I just sit back and wonder, "who is teaching whom?"