Thursday, December 18, 2008

Did You Know?

I frequently check the blog of Jerry Harber, a friend who was my pastor, co-worker, and advisor for many years. He has an ability to touch me spiritually, and that has been especially true of his Advent posts. If you’d like to read them go to I assure you you’ll find something to think about.

Jerry’s most recent post recalled a song that we often hear this time of year. “Mary Did You Know?” I’m not sure when it was written, but if you’d like a great rendition of it go to

No, I never knew I’d be recommending a gospel disco network, but I am. Surprise!

This song, and Jerry’s thoughts have taken me back to Sarah Palin, (remember her!) who did know, at least as much as any of us ever do, what she was to expect before her youngest son was born. She knew, and she knew in a very public forum, and she knew that she could be a good mother to him, and I’ll bet she is. Not getting to be Vice President may have come as a surprise to her, but to her credit, she handled that with the same grace she has shown through her adjustment to being a member of that fraternity that none of us wants to join, the parents of children with special needs.

For those of us who have endured God’s surprises in our lives, sometimes happily, sometimes with deep grief, we have discovered what we really never know. We never know what’s coming next or in what order. That’s a real frustration for those of us who really don’t like thrill rides or surprises.

I’ve known parents whose children were diagnosed with mental illness in their teens, parents of newborns with various disabilities, including some that were heart wrenchingly fatal, and parents of absolute super stars in one field or another. I’ve sat in the ICU with a mother whose boyfriend caused permanent brain damage to her toddler. I’ve commiserated with relatives about their children’s grades and social problems. What they all eventually discovered was that somewhere within them was the strength to make it through whatever it was with the help of their friends and relatives and their faith in some higher power.

Some days I wish I didn’t know quite so much or knew a bit more. I’m hoping that I’m learning to like surprises and thrill rides more, because I know the next turn is just ahead. What I do know, though, is that every time one of us reaches out to another, we really do kiss the face of God. That’s just the way it works.


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