Maddie is one of those people within the mentally challenged community whom everyone loves. She is friendly and happy. Maddie makes everyone feel as though they are her “extra-special friend.” Several years ago Mattie and her husband moved from our city to a small town out of the state. Because I assumed that I’d never see her again, I didn’t pay much attention to the name of the city or the state. Mattie often called me with prayer requests.
She called when her cat was sick and later when her cat died. She called to let me know that she was sick and called often to ask for prayer for her farm animals. There was no doubt in my mind that Maddie was sincere and that these prayer requests were important to her. However, I didn’t pay much attention to her “simple” daily needs.
Last week Maddie called. It was Saturday morning. I was extremely busy and I had no intention of answering the phone. Yet, by mistake, I did answer. Calmly, Maddie said, “Linda, I need prayer.” This wasn’t a surprise. Maddie only called when she needed prayer. I expected to hear about a pig or a chicken that was sick. “Michael just died,” she reported without emotion.
“What, Hon?” I asked, “Who died?”
“Michael. Michael just died.”
“Are you talking about Michael? Your Michael?”
“Yes, my Michael, just died. The people from the morgue left a few minutes ago.” Her quiet composure shocked me. She continued, “Can you come to the funeral?”
I explained that I could not possibly come because I was going on a trip the next day and I’d be out-of-state for a little more than a week. I prayed for her and we hung up. After the phone call, I started to wonder in what state they were living. I called Maddie back and found out that she is in Tennessee–the state where I was visiting. “I can’t make any promises,” I told her, “but I may be able to attend Michael’s funeral.”
The town where she lives is about 30 minutes from the city where I was visiting. By the afternoon, the plans were made for me to get to the funeral. Maddie’s family was not at the funeral. There were only 12 or 13 people who attended. Half of them were construction workers who are building a new home for them. Maddie was Maddie. Of course, she was grieving her loss; but she remained friendly and happy to have the few people there who were able to attend.
I was struck by God’s tender mercies extended toward a young widow whose husband suddenly collapsed and died in front of her. It was an honor to be a part of the funeral for this brave young woman who suddenly lost her husband and best friend. There are many things that can be said about the intellectually disabled community. In counting their assets, their bravery is one virtue that often becomes valor. Maddie is finding the peace that only God can give in the middle of her loss. Additionally, she is showing the strong bravery that is often present in this unique and wonderful community.
The choice that changed everything
Central Theme: Man choices to sin and God chooses to be gracious.
A ream of paper has 500 sheets–not more and not less. A foot is 12 inches–not more and not less. There are many absolutes in our lives. There is a couple of absolutes that totally changed mankind. First, since Adam’s sin, We all choose to sin and God always chooses to be gracious and forgive. Have a member read Nehemiah 9:17.
I. Tell the story of the first sin and the fall of mankind from Genesis 3.
A.Eve ate the fruit and Adam followed her.
B. They were tricked by Satan.
C.God made them leave the garden but he chose to love them and forgive them.
II. God will always choose to be gracious and loving to you.
A.We must desire God‘s love and his forgiveness.
B. We don’t always think we need God.
III. The ways we reject God.
1. We decide that we can handle everything ourselves.
2. We work toward being independent of God
3. We want to please people rather than God
3. We disobey God‘s laws.
A.There are unintended consequences to all of the bad choices that we make.
IV. We should never forget that God will always show his love and graciousness to us.
Conclusions: Each of us chooses to sin but God chooses to forgive us all the time.
For many years, I taught a seminar called “Friendship Evangelism.” The basis of this teaching was that people are much more susceptible to hear the promises of the Gospel, if they know and respect you. We all have a knowledge of the friendship of David and Jonathan from the Bible. Even if we only vague know the details, their love for each other has inspired men and women for generations.
Recently, I saw a simple–yet dramatic–example of friendship that threw me a bit. Several weeks ago, I needed some equipment at our Sunday Special Gathering program. It was locked in the home of an elder. I’d been on a trip when the equipment had been used the last time. As I came home, this program elder left town for his vacation. Our paths crossed. Everyone knew that this man badly needed a break and rest from the stress of his profession. He and I had been in contact for a couple of days regarding the equipment. But there seemed only one way to get access to the equipment. We needed to find one of his employees who had a key and have him deliver it. It seemed to be a simple situation.
However, the employee had also taken a trip that weekend; and he could not be reached. Every early Sunday morning, the elder realized that he could not get in contact with his employee. I talked with the elder on the phone. “You will have your equipment,” he said emphatically.
“Are you bringing it?” I asked.
Silence screamed from the other end.
“Please, don’t bring the equipment you need this break much more than I need my stuff. I can work thing out. Don’t do this.”
“You are going to bring this no matter what I say, aren’t you?” I asked.
“You will have your equipment,” firmly, he assured me.
Within an hour, the equipment was being mounted and my friend was laughing about having to leave his vacation to deliver some wires. I was deeply touched by this generous gesture and act of love for our members, who are mentally challenged.
This is the kind of friendship that woos people toward the God of Heaven who gave His all to deliver us from the grief and darkness of our lost condition. The question for me is no longer whether I will die for a lost generation. I’ve become more realistic in my expections.
Would I leave my vacation to enable a friend who does not know Jesus to have the equipment she needs?
After four days of Camp Agape, my children laugh that I’m in my Camp Coma for about a week. While it’s humorous there is a lot of truth in their designation of my abilities. There are some things that I’ve learned from others and from my own experiences regarding physical fatigue.
First, this is a physical condition that cannot be ignored or “played with.” It is a serious condition.
Second, even though rest is the most important ingredient in recovery, there is also the need for quiet. That is, spend some time with yourself–alone. Turn off the TV. Unplug your mind from the Internet. Give your brain time to recoup.
Third, find YOUR way to regather your thoughts and your well-being. While I recoup best by reading, other will find that taxing. Gardening, repairing your car, cleaning, puzzles. Almost any brain-dead activity will do as long as it is something that refreshes you.
Fourth, unwind your brain. Most of us must unwind before we can truly rest. When one of my grandchildren (aged three) realized that I was unable to sleep, she tenderly told me, “I had to learn how to sleep. I’ll show you. Put your arm on your head, like this. Then, rub the corner of your blanket and you will fall asleep.” She had found a way to unwind her brain.
Finally, rest your body. Sleep is vital but staring time is equally important.
The Bible tells us that the Lord gives His Beloved rest. Take that time to be with Him in quiet and peace. Rest.