“Luck,” so this saying went, “is when preparation meets opportunity.”
At 23 years of age, this was a revelation. Suddenly, luck wasn’t some random commodity floating around in the air; it was actually within my control. I could catch it, hold it in my pocket like a rabbit’s foot, and make it my own. If I worked my hardest, I’d be ready when opportunity came along. And there is some truth in this. But, as those of us with special needs children know, life isn’t always lived out in bumper sticker slogans.
Wednesday was an extra special day for my son, Max, who is now the fresh-faced 23 year-old. He jumped out of bed, which for Max happens just slightly faster than a slug slipping off a log, and pulled on a brand new shirt. He patted the store logo on the front pocket and yelled, “They need you, on the work crew! Stocking shelves is what we do!” He threw his hands up into the air as if he were riding a roller coaster, and we both cheered. This would be Max’s first day on the job. He will work just two hours every Wednesday morning, but it’s two hours that make the whole week smile.
Of course I shared the news with everyone I know, and even some I don’t. “Max is a hard worker,” I‘d say. “He’s so proud to have a job.” The more I shared the news, the more I began to wonder how a picture of Max would look on just the smallest of announcements in the Wall Street Journal. When I told one friend who is quite savvy – she works with kids with autism and has known Max for years – I knew she’d be excited. “Max’s day program secured the position,” I told her. “And he has the perfect job coach to help him. It’s a great opportunity.” She was quiet for a moment, and then ever so slowly, cautiously, said into the phone, “I’m not sure Max is ready.”
My mind swirled. I wanted to jump through the phone and tell her that Max will be the best employee that store has ever seen. But even with all Max has to offer, I knew that wasn’t necessarily true. I began to picture what it might look like if Max weren’t actually ready for this job. What’s the worst that could happen? Floods? Plagues? Locusts? Or could there be customers who would complain about my son? What if the management complained? The thought of it made me feel immobilized, as if someone had just tied a cinder block around my ankles. And Max’s life.
And then I thought about my own life.
Not much of my life’s journey was on my radar back when I was graduating from college. There have been obstacles I couldn’t have imagined. But those obstacles have revealed opportunities – not because I thought I was completely prepared, or even ready – but because God is at work. He invites each of us to step forward, to risk living with vulnerabilities, even to accept that we are wholly inadequate for the task on our own.
“You’re right,” I said finally agreeing with my friend. “Max isn’t ready for this job.” As the words left my mouth I felt a sudden rush of excitement again. “But maybe it isn’t always about being ready. Maybe sometimes it’s just about saying, ‘Yes.’”