…A large room, a sanctuary. Hundreds of people, many with various kinds of disabilities.
Come with me. Step inside. Voices coming from all directions. At first, it seems like pandemonium.
Let’s walk further in. Careful not to trip over backpacks or stumble into wheelchairs. Excitement permeates the air. Loud laughter. Incessant chatter. Constant movement. Find an empty seat. Oh, there’s one!
A teenage boy with Down Syndrome approaches us with a smile. “That’s where I was sitting!”
“That’s okay!” His cock-eyed grin is contagious. A smile tickles the corners of my mouth as I realize he’s not upset.
Head straight up the aisle, through the crowd. Hang on… There’s a girl walking toward us. Maybe she can help us find a seat. “Hello!”
Her brown eyes pierce through me. With her baby-browns glued to my brightly colored t-shirt, she spits out, “I don’t like your shirt, but I like your hat.”
Instinctively, my eyebrows raise. “Do you not like the color or the style?”
“I don’t like any of it. But I like your hat.”
Insight instantly jerks my mind into awareness. Autism? A sense of appreciation for unfiltered honesty fills me as refreshing springs to a man with deep thirst. “Thank you!” Without any eye contact, she nods her acknowledgment and quickly continues on her mission.
Let’s just stand here in the back. With our backs against the wall, my eyes scan the auditorium taking in the busy scene. Vignettes of raw authenticity, genuine regard, and meaningful devotion are evidenced across the amphitheater.
All attention is focused to the front as worship leaders tune their instruments and perform brief sound checks. The lights dim only slightly. Children jump in anticipation. Adults prepare by bowing heads and posturing themselves in attentive calm state of being.
The music begins.
Softly at first. Then it builds. My eyes scan the congregation. An electric wheelchair pulls up next to me. I glance his way and smile at the young man. Recognizing he has cerebral palsy, I focus on his lips and try to decipher through the music what he is saying.
“There are two empty seats next to me towards the front, if you’d like to join me.”
“We’d love to!”
I’m amazed how well he effortlessly navigates his chair through the moving bodies. About four rows from the front, I notice a tall slender man waving at us. A greeting of handshakes and a slap on the back of his buddy compliment his welcoming smile as we take our seats.
The worship leaders are well into their first song, and the sweet sound of praise comes from every able soul in the arena. A section of those with hearing impairments sing beautiful words of praise with fluid movements of their arms and hands extending from hearts of worship. Bodies everywhere I look, some broken, some whole, sway and move to the tune of reverent adoration to the Savior. Voices sound, both in and out of tune, loudly with a heart abandoning self in order to offer a whole sacrifice of praise to God:
“How great is our God! Sing with me…How great is our God…!”
Beauty, such beauty –stripping away all our brokenness, every one of us, to praise the God who makes us whole! Pure worship to God for who He is! Nothing else matters except the One who takes shattered pieces from broken dreams and exchanges them for a promised hope. No one is left on the fringe; not one is excluded.
Aside from the ways we are all broken,
Do you think this is what Adam and Eve experienced as they walked with God before their choice to disobey?
*Note: all characters in this written scene are purely fictional and are not representative of any one in particular.