Read below for a guest post from Merri Lewis.
I used to worry a lot about how my son with autism would be able to comprehend an invisible, triune God. After all, autism means the odds are high that he will be a very literal and visual learner. After his twin sister accepted Jesus at the young age of 3 1/2, my concerns hit the accelerator with force.
The following Sunday as we sang praises and worshipped, the question burned with in me, “How will Sage know Jesus is real if he can’t see him?” My desire for Sage to have the opportunity to know and experience God swelled in my heart as a tear made its way down the river of my cheek.
God stopped me right there in my thinking tracks and said with his gentle but thunderous voice in my heart, “I made him the way he is. I know how to reach him.”
Those words, that voice… struck me straight to my heart’s core. I didn’t have to figure it all out. God already has.
A few days later, when I heard Sage awake in the wee hours, I wasn’t too surprised because he has always had severe sleeping problems. He had no ability to calm himself so he would push his little body into utter exhaustion. When his body could no longer comply with his mind, he would collapse into the required sleep.
So when I heard him up I wasn’t alarmed. What did surprise me? What I heard!
At the top of his lungs, he was singing, “I stand amazed in the presence, of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how he could love me, a sinner condemned unclean.” You can listen to the song here: I Stand Amazed (How Marvelous)
I imagine he was standing on his bed, which was more typical of him than lying on it. The door was closed and I did not dare interrupt what was going on: I felt like I was standing on Holy ground. Goosebumps rise and chills cover me as I think about it!
My guess is he was singing the words to the song because it explained what was happening. Here’s why:
Sage would often use phrases from songs to say what he didn’t have words for. He didn’t know how to comment or ask a question to gain information. Often when he wanted to communicate something beyond his language abilities, he would sing a song that conveyed the same thing.
For example, when he noticed how dark blue the concentrated grape juice was, he started singing the Veggie Tales song Madame Blueberry sings, “I’m so blue-hoo-hoo, blue-hoo-hoo, blue-hoo-hoo-hoo! I’m so blue I don’t know what to do.” to call my attention to it!
Sage has always loved music. It has a way of reaching us where plain words do not. It’s like music bypasses the brain and go straight to the heart.
God did know how to reach Sage. He used music to bypass the literal, the visual and penetrate his soul.
God also uses music to reach my younger son with a more severe form of autism. When he is in a meltdown, or when he is trapped in scripting (repeating things he’s heard), turning on some Matt Redman or Third Day will help him stop the turmoil inside him. He becomes calm, and I am sure God is ministering to his little heart.
No one is too hard or too disabled for God to reach. And it may not be “hard” at all, just different. Some people with ASD’s have a more-than-usual closeness to God; they are overly aware of his presence.
No matter what the level of disability, the good news is we don’t have to figure it all out. God already has.
Merri Lewis is a wife and mom to 4 treasured children, two of whom have Autism Spectrum Disorder. She enjoys writing and art journaling about her life and the joy she finds in raising children with special needs. You can find Merri on her website, Treasures in the Dust, on Facebook, and on Pinterest.