But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Corinthians 4: 7-10
We as believers read this passage often. We find solace in knowing that our finite bodies and minds, broken and traumatized as they are, can also hold a treasure beyond this temporal world. But what if God sent even greater ‘treasures’ to us? What if He’s bestowed on the masses precious teachers, sent directly from the very heart of the Father, into our midst to guide, sanctify, and refine us; people who are experts at showing us the nature of Christ, endowed naturally with the Fruits of the Spirit, filled to the brim with knowledge of the Holy.
Enter my daughter Anna…. and all her friends with Down Syndrome.
It has occurred to me of late, as I am preparing to launch a precious little book about the treasures that those with Down Syndrome contain, that our job as “normal” people goes so much further than just facilitating inclusion and acceptance of this population. We have to do better with these gems; going further in our thinking of their worth past just how valuable their lives are or how high our responsibilities are to them…. no, we as the Church, we as Christians, we as believers and followers of Christ need to radically change our view of this special needs population (and really ALL special needs people).
Because, if we were to pull back the curtain between this world and heaven, I think we’d see them in a totally different light. I think we’d see them as gems, jewels, precious metals… truly treasures… that God has designed specifically and intentionally to teach us more about Him.
We too often speak from our “normal” minds, our constrained-worldly constructs, about how valuable those with Down Syndrome are. But what if we thought of them more like elders, more like instructors, more like Jesus-examples- sent from heaven to educate us from their perspective about God?
When was the last time we sat at the feet of someone with Trisomy 21 and let them teach us what they know of Yahweh?
When was the last time we enabled someone to teach a Bible Study about Christ?
When was the last time you saw someone with Down Syndrome on stage showing us what abandoned praising looks like?
What a perspective this would be!
If we claim to believe that God makes no mistakes, that all people are designed with very own Hand and Heart, then we have to acknowledge a greater role in Kingdom-building for these individuals here on earth. They may need help- yes. They may need the platform- yes. They may need the lift up from those around them. Like Moses holding up his staff in Exodus 17:11 who needed assistance from Aaron and Hur, we may need to play the part of a ‘holder’. But if there was ever an instance where true, heavenly treasures are placed in imperfect, fragile, sometimes unlovely, and often seemingly unworthy jars…. our Down Syndrome community is it.
We need to enable a greater piece of the church to them- not as us “doing them a favor” or “including” them. But raising them up as leaders and examples. People who need to be emulated in their walk with Jesus.
My daughter Anna, even at her young age, has so very much to add to the Kingdom. Her intuitive insight to love on people (often perfect strangers), her absolutely pure faith, her unwavering adoration for Jesus… all these things are not only to be encouraged and celebrated, they are to be learned from. I for one cannot wait to see how her faith changes the world as she grows… because she is truly a treasure sent from God for us to sit under and marvel at; and then be emulated.
To the church I challenge us to do better with this population. Let them serve, let them sing, let them teach and educate! My book (which not only points out her differences but explains in a Christ-like way why she is different and what the God-given purpose is for it in her Kingdom-building quest) may have started as sweet, pet-project but has now become a life-altering mental change where God has challenged my thinking about her life. She and all the others have been sent down to teach and show us the heart of God. They may be in simple and often extremely fragile bodies and minds, but we have to push through the exterior to see the jewels inside… we need to help them find, or at least recognize in them, their purpose for being sent… and then do all we can to elevate and proclaim that path.
Our world is truly blessed that God would deign to give us such treasures. Let us celebrate them. Let us elevate them, be humbled by them, and follow them.
Because let’s be honest, I’m not sure anyone else on the planet understands the Father in quite the same, beautiful way. These will be the ones sitting closet to the feet of Jesus in Heaven, these will be the ones who understand the Father in ways that we normal people cannot because we are so very handicapped by our own disabilities…
Let that sink in. And then let’s step it up.
God Made Me Juuuuust Right is dropping in October! Be sure to subscribe to get more from my series on Down Syndrome, mom-life, and lots of updates about this super great kidslit book. I cannot wait for ya’ll to see it!