The mentally challenged community is hungry to hear the Gospel. If we can get people to our chapel services, they will almost always accept the wonderful grace of Christ into their lives.
Yet, discipleship is a struggle. One day at a weekly pastors’ prayer meeting that I attend, I explained this dilemma. Of course, in explaining the situation, I blamed my members’ inabilities to cognitively evaluate what the best choices are for their lives.
All the pastors laughed. “We have the same problem. Your folks aren’t any different from ours.”
Yet, as I view our members from the prism of years of discipleship, I am able to see alterations in the lives of our members.
Tim’s fits of anger have completely stopped. Bill is a life-long smoker. He struggles to quit. Recently, he was able to go more than a month without smoking. Though he has relapsed, he believes that if he can go for a month without cigarettes, next time he will be able to quit for good.
Hallie struggles with paralyzing fears. She is high functioning and lives in her own apartment. She is constantly moving in order to abate her fears. She has been in her current apartment for more than a year. These and other examples are great victories that amplify the growing grace in the lives of our members.
There is nothing more gratifying than to see people who have struggled with anger or addiction or lived in fear break free from detrimental bondage. How does this happen? Perhaps part of the answer is simply learning to listen and obey.
This week as I studied the Matthew 17 passage regarding the miracle of Jesus’ transfiguration, I was reminded that miracles don’t often radically change lives. Peter, James and John saw the miracle of Jesus, Moses and Elijah standing together on top of the mountain shining as white as light. Rather than humbling himself, Peter took charge and he was ready to build three tents to honor the event (and himself because he was there to witness the miracle).
As Peter was speaking, God, the Father spoke from heaven saying, “This is my Son and I love him. I am very pleased with him. Obey him!” Now that God had their attention, they were ready to listen. In fact, they were terrified. They humbled themselves and fell to the ground. They had been forced to hear. As a result, they were ready to obey.
It is often not the miraculous in our lives that changes us but the times we listen to God and obey him. Within our cloistered, sub-culture, it is the same formula that works to change lives. Slowly, methodically transformations are accomplished as they are discipled in the ways of Christ.
What are some of the changes that you have seen within your community that make you know that God is working in your member’s lives? What are some of the changes that you have seen in your life?