My step-daughter, Steph, is your typical teenage girl. She’s always putting a new and funky coat of paint on her nails, wants to wear the latest fashions, and her cell phone has grafted itself to her hand. She has that typical “the world should revolve around me” attitude that everyone has during those teenage years.
However, something spectacular happens whenever she is around people who are mentally challenged. The phone is put away, and the moody teenager is replaced by someone more loving and caring than Mary Poppins, and a smile even comes to her face.
Steph has a talent and a calling to work with people with special needs. I don’t know what it is, but it’s almost magical. It all started about three years ago. We have a little girl in our church who suffers from Down syndrome. Steph was asked to follow her around during Vacation Bible School that year, and when things got a little intense, she would take the girl for a walk, and find a quiet place to calm her down. The next year, Steph asked if the church would buy the special needs curriculum so she could teach this girl in a one-on-one setting. By the time school started this fall, Steph was teaching our first special needs class, and was already deep into a science project to discover how different foods affect kids who suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorders. While most of her friends were shopping or “hanging out,” she was locked in her room, nose into a text book, reading about the latest research. The big “she’s serious” moment came when she asked us to take her to Lubbock and let her spend the afternoon at the Texas Tech Medical Library. I tried to break it to her that they might not let high school students into the Library, and she quickly responded with, “Oh, I’ve already called and made sure I can get a card there and everything, I’ve even filled out the application already.”
While all this was going on, her friends were trying to get her to do “high school” stuff. One even complained that Steph was “going to the darkside into complete Nerdville.” She never wavered. Her science fair entry went over the head of the judges, and she didn’t advance, but she kept her chin up. She moved on, and began looking into plans for after high school. Her goal is to become a Pediatric Autism Specialist, and truth be told, as long as she keeps her focus, she’s well on her way to being one.
It’s a lot like the situation we find Noah in. God gave him a calling, and the talent to accomplish the task. People kept questioning him, making fun of him, and challenging him. But he kept his focus and finished the task, not letting the distractions bother him.
I’m reminded of the story of Jesus walking on water. A lot of people focus on Peter not having faith, but I look at this differently. Peter had the guts to get out of the boat.
Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me! (Matthew 14:28-30)
I’m sure the others in the boat tried to talk Peter out of stepping on the water. But he did it anyway. He was well on his way to Jesus until the A.D.D. set in. The wind blew by and he took his eyes off of Jesus and he began to sink. Jesus came to his rescue and pulled him up. But until he lost his focus, he was walking on water!
God calls us to serve him in many different ways. He has given us the talent and abilities to do what he asks, and as long as we keep our focus on God, we will excel at whatever it is God has for us. We just have to learn to ignore the wind; to not let the naysayers and party poopers distract us from serving as God has commanded. Our job as God’s servants leads us in many different directions; some that others may not quite understand. We have to be able sort through the confusion and see God’s plan.
My prayer this week is that we have the guts to step out of the boat, no matter how strange and over our heads it seems. That we put our faith and focus on God’s will, and never waiver from God’s master plan.