A “beauty from ashes” story about Life… and Autism.
By Debbie Lee Imsande
I will never forget the early years when my son Luke was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. . . and the emotional rollercoaster that followed. I want to reflect back upon one ordinary day.
I was sitting with a close friend, and spiritual mentor, whom I call Sweet Mary, and out of all the ponderings of my heart, these words left my lips:
“Will he Love? Will he know Jesus?”
…it was through her, God spoke these words over my spirit: “How could he not?”
Since that day, too many times, I have allowed people to bring darkness into my colorful soul. These piercing words, accusations made, and harmful actions were not so colorful. Thankfully what others meant for harm, God uses for good. (Genesis 50:50)
Is autism a disorder, a disability, different ability. . . or is it a unique gift, or exceptionality? Although I am thankful that culture is trying to level the playing field for us, trying not to offend others, in our attempts to understand and advocate on his behalf, becomes quite exhausting.
The “spectrum “ of autism is vast. Raising awareness of and hoping to change how culture views people with autism is the truest intention of my heart. The desired response is simple: Accept ALL PEOPLE with LOVE. Celebrate the potential in everyone and the possibilities in every encounter!
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.
James 2:1–12 (ESV)
We must often go to the Holy Scriptures—inspired by God, living and active, and like human words, can offend—but TRUTH is TRUTH; we must live by it and let this penetrate our soul! We are ALL flawed and uniquely gifted. Every one of us! Let that free us to serve each other with a boundless love. . .
“As I have loved you, love one another.” John 13:34
Confusion, conflict, chaos, lack of confidence in ourselves or Who God is, makes it easy to get caught up in our culture’s lies! Although Satan has schemes he desires to bring against us (Ephesians 6:11), we know God’s plans are Bigger (Jeremiah 29:11) and Victory has been won (Colossians 2:15). God has empowered us with His Holy Spirit and lavished us with His grace, strength, and mercy. God does bring beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3); all I need to do is trust Him and pray without ceasing–focused, powerful, and strategic prayer (James 5:16)! Countless hours are spent providing the intervention methods recommended by autism professionals so that Luke can have a visibly successful life. However, prayer is the most important work I can do for him, ever trusting the internal work of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:16).
I cannot think of a greater purpose than being a champion for others! Standing in the gap, getting in the trenches with them, and saying: your heart matters! So, let’s invest in God’s children. . . love them as they are and help them find their GOD-SIZED DREAM!
Luke is 13 now. He is not afraid to pray. He prays often at school, youth group, and the family meal. Recently, Luke was praying over his lunch with his friend Cameron; he thanked God for his best friend. Cameron sweetly thanked Luke for praying. I was stopped in my tracks. He goes to God without fear! It doesn’t occur to him that someone might judge his prayer or question his heart. We cannot imagine the work God is doing in his spirit!
Yes! HE LOVES! Yes, HE KNOWS JESUS!
How could he not?!
Thank you, God, for your boundless love, the saving work of Christ Jesus, and the glorious unfolding of becoming our true selves through the refining of the Holy Spirit!
God will make “beauty out of ashes”— colorful light from darkest night—so all we need to do is look expectantly toward our future glory! Let’s create a culture of acceptance where we can learn and live with boundless opportunities in the truth of God’s Word. . . looking with new eyes to those who are different than ourselves, including those with autism. Live the resurrected life: dying to our false self, who we became through culture’s lies, and rise to the newness of life in Christ!
“THERE COMES A TIME IN YOUR LIFE WHEN YOU NEED TO MAKE WHAT JESUS DID FOR YOU GREATER THAN WHAT SOMEONE DID TO YOU.”
— Christine Caine
And that time is NOW!