I admit it.
Caleb and Jake live pretty sheltered lives.
They don’t read the news on the internet.
They don’t pay much attention to current events.
They are not familiar with world politics.
They wouldn’t be able to tell you anything about the US Presidential Elections – or even the political goings-on in our part of the world with Jacob Zuma or Robert Mugabe or…..much of anything.
Jake and Caleb may hear us talking about different issues – but they don’t tune in and take notice. Caleb may ask a question or two – but not Jake. If the topic at hand doesn’t affect him and the little world of his making, Jake isn’t interested.
However, their awareness of the goings-on-in-the-world-and-what-has-happened-in-the-past have begun to expand. We can thank their history books for this change in their worldview. Now that Caleb and Jake have begun grade 7 school work this year, they have been introduced to a lot more historical content. Since they have to learn about it – the current and past events of world history – have begun to challenge their understanding of the depravity of man.
What do I mean?
For the past three weeks, the boys have been reading about Native American History, Slavery in the United States, Immigration to the United States in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century, Japanese Interment during World War II, and the plight of the Boat People after the Vietnam War.
This information has been a lot to swallow! In fact, how can anyone digest it after reading about so much cruelty and hardship?
As the boys read what happened in each of these summarized events, they honestly have been horrified.
Caleb asked, “Mom, why did they do that?” in response to how the US Army enforced the removal of Native Americans from their tribal lands.
Jake declared, “I don’t want to read about that.” when we read how African American children were forcefully separated from their parents during the slave trade.
Both Jake and Caleb were devastated when they read how Vietnamese Boat People drowned in their attempt to seek a better way of life after the end of the Vietnam War because their overcrowded boats were unseaworthy.
As we have read and discussed these events, Jake and Caleb are learning that there are desires and motives within the heart of man that both limit and diminish our capacity to love.
Isn’t that an awful thing to learn?
There are desires and motives within the heart of man that both limit and diminish our capacity to love.
You may wonder and be critical of our parenting of Caleb and Jake in that they are only now grasping such things at their ages of 13 and 14. Yet, one of the realities of raising our autistic children is that Jake and Caleb are both younger in heart, comprehension, and action than their peers. They haven’t been ready for this heart-piercing information. In addition, John and I have been determined to raise all of our children with the value that all people are loved and cherished by God. Loving others is one of our family values. We are committed to this value with every breath of our being.
We have raised Micah, Jake and Caleb to love others – no matter who they are, where they come from, or what they believe.
We stake our values on the Word of God.
In a recent reading for my ongoing Saint word study, our family value of loving others is emphasized by Paul as he addressed the Thessalonian Church:
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones (saints).
New International Standard, 1Thessalonians 3: 12-13
The love that Paul describes and the love we strive to build into and ask Micah, Jake and Caleb to express is an agape love.
An agape love is a brotherly love, a contented love, a welcoming love and a secure love.
An agape love offers good will.
It invites both care and affection.
Not only that, this love is one that increases and overflows as it is shared and enjoyed!
Imagine a love that is of such superior quality that the more this welcoming and God-honoring love is shared – it abounds and continues to grow!
Who wouldn’t want that kind of love?
Who wouldn’t want to share that kind of love?
How is it even possible?
The answer is found in Jesus Christ.
Christ our Lord makes our love increase and overflow for each other… and for everyone else!
This is the kind of love that John and I are asking our Lord and Savior to instill in the hearts of our children.
We do not want anything to limit or diminish their capacity to love. We are praying for just the opposite! We desire that as they abide in Christ, their love for others and for everyone else, would abound!
Yes, all three of our sons are becoming more and more aware of the depravity of man – his corrupted motives, his selfish ways, his discriminatory viewpoints, his evil intents, his harsh and insensitive actions, and his lack of love. But that doesn’t mean that our children must go this way.
We are sheltering all of our children in the boundless love of God so that they too may offer this amazing and excellent love to others through the power of Jesus Christ today, tomorrow and into their future.
History has shown Jake and Caleb that man is capable of great cruelty to attain power, wealth, status, and other selfish gains. This truth has horrified them – as it should.
Jesus Christ shows Micah, Jake and Caleb that through Christ we are capable of great love for those they know and for everyone else – bestowing honor, blessing, care, affection, and goodwill.
As Micah, Jake and Caleb lean into the destiny that is theirs in Christ, they have the power and potential to impact their sphere of influence with this abounding, all-encompassing, and infinite love.
Our world and everyone else needs this kind of welcoming and affirming love, doesn’t it?
Jake and Caleb certainly think so! Micah does! We all do!