Dear Capernaum Sisters and Brothers!
Greetings from our Capernaum team in Kauai. I am returning from a visit where I had the joy of attending their 6th club and speaking at it. This summer I will be joined by some of our staff to help them with their 1st Day Camp. It’s a pretty perfect setting for a day camp if you like an island paradise. Pray for the team there. They are doing a great job and learning more each month.
I am writing on the eve of Valentines Day about the cross. How appropriate to share some reflections of the greatest act of love in history on a day that celebrates love.
The greatest news for all of us is that the cross is for all of us. That may seem like an obvious truth but judging by the question I am most asked about kids with disabilities it is not. “Do they get it?” My first response has always emanated from the cross. “So what if they don’t?” Does that mean Jesus’ act of love on the cross is null and void for a kid with a mental disability? For God so loved the world! All! Past, present, and future without qualification. As a Capernaum team we believe and know that Christ died on the cross for every kid we know and it is that fact that compels us to love kids for Christ’s sake.
As I have reflected on Christ on the cross and kids with both physical and mental disabilities, I see God’s amazing display of identification. If one of the characteristics of disability is limitations, then we see a God with self imposed limits, dying paralyzed by nails on a cross and doing this intentionally. Jesus knows limitations, physical pain, and mental disorientation through his pain and premature death. He is a God who understands someone with a disability.
I remember a few years ago one of our kids broke down weeping after our first club of the fall. He asked through tears why God made him the way he was. I remember thinking how his cry sounded so much like Jesus’ cry, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?!” Jesus knows the anguish of an unanswered question.
On the cross Jesus said, “I thirst”. In doing so he identifies with the deep human longings of our kids. I remember one of my dear club kids named Petey interrupting the speaker by shouting out, “I want a job. I want to get married. I want to be a Young Life leader.” Petey was thirsting. Jesus knows our kids thirst.
Jesus said so powerfully to centurions who nailed Him and those who gave Him over to his executioners, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Being misunderstood. How often do the kids we love navigate through insensitivity, ignorance, and misunderstanding on the part of others? Jesus identifies with this and responds with breath-taking forgiveness.
On the cross Jesus responded to his mother’s agonizing grief and her loss of her son who cared for her. “Woman, behold your son. John, behold your mother.” Jesus created community of two He loved who were not blood related. Is not Jesus constantly doing this among us – giving our precious friends’ mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers in a community of belonging. Jesus does this from the cross.
“It is finished.” Done! Nothing left. Perfection. And kids with disabilities are just that because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Perfect in Christ. God does not view them through their disability. God views them through their identity in Christ as beloved daughters and sons. Perfect because Christ finished His work.
And that means that Christ can say to each kid robed in His blood, you will be with me in paradise. Whole. Well. All as intended in the Garden before the tragedy of the fall.
For God so loved our friends with disabilities in Seattle, Tampa, Dallas, Baltimore, Nashville, Kauai, San Jose, Peru, Santa Clarita, Minneapolis, Kazakhstan…yes in every place we are and are not…Through His cross. Glory to God forever!