All Men Are Created Equal?
I am blessed to have a special needs cousin—not just any special needs cousin, but this extraordinary special needs person. I first met him when he was a new born baby. His dad, a minister, had accepted the call to our church in Corpus Christi, TX, and their family (all 4 of them) moved in with us until they were able to relocate. That would be no big deal in our present quite roomy home. But, at that time my dad was a lowly Seaman First Class in the Navy; and due to his meager military income, we lived in a tiny 4 room unit of government housing. Looking back, I have no earthly idea how the 7 of us managed to live comfortably within such close quarters. But we did. I do remember our the parents improvising a bassinet for our new little buddy by lining our lone bathtub with quilts.
Through the years I have been reasonably close to him, watching him deal with his handicap as he has gracefully reached his (so called) golden years.. Like all of us, he has had his ups and downs; but for the most part, I feel that he has accepted his station in life far better than I could have under similar circumstances. Observing him in his prohibitive condition, I can only acknowledge that God obviously extends his amazing grace to us according to our needs. God is good!
It was during my high school years that his condition brought about questions in my mind with which I continue to struggle. My history teacher had required us to commit to memory all or parts of several famous speeches—not the least of which was Lincoln’s famed Gettysburg Address. I suppose it will be forever etched in my mind. I still remember standing before our class, reciting, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…”
WHOA! All men are created equal? How could that be? Abraham Lincoln must have never known the likes of my dear cousin. How could his life be considered equal to those of us with whole bodies? He was never able to tie his own shoes; never able to ride a bike (not even with training wheels); he could never go outside and play with the other kids, never able to attend summer camp, never able to earn his own spending money—no part-time after school jobs, no temporary summer jobs. He was never able to casually go to the kitchen and make a snack of peanut butter and crackers to munch on while watching TV.
Obviously, he never experienced ‘coming of age’ indicators such as learning to drive nor going on that first date. He couldn’t experience the thrills of the Senior Prom, moving out on his own, nor voting.. Even now, he has spent the last several years confined to a wheel chair and could never be left unattended. Thus, my natural thoughts concerning “All men are created equal…” Hogwash!
But then I turned the page and saw a new and different mental paragraph—a paragraph that is 180° removed from my negative thoughts. What if that renowned speech had been delivered by Almighty God? What if God had said that He (our Father) had brought forth on the earth a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Hmm, that would shed a wonderfully positive light on that seemingly hopeless matter. And that is exactly what happened. The Scriptures plainly state that God doesn’t look at my little cousin through my eyes. We read in I Samuel 16:7 that when the nation of Israel was looking for a new king, God told Samuel, “The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (NLT).”
With that in mind, we must realize that God wasn’t having a bad day when He created my (so called) special needs cousin. In a somewhat similar situation Jesus and His disciples encountered another special needs person—a blind man. Just as in my case, that incident also brought up questions in their minds. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him (John 9:2-3 NIV).”
In one of the beautiful Psalms of King David, he was musing, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed (Psalm 139:12-16 NLT).”
There you have it. It was our awesome God that wove my dear cousin together in his mother’s womb. God had a purpose. He created a person with an unusual body that would become one of His most zealous witnesses. And I would venture that no creature alive loves our God more than my little buddy. Everyone that comes in contact with him will soon know that he is a devoted Christian—a proud child of the King. He is quick to sing His praises.
But that’s not the end of the story. He will not always be saddled with that temporary set of unseemly circumstances. His life here on earth will soon end and his deformed body will be placed in a grave. But he won’t be there! He will have moved out of that imperfect body. “Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6 NLT).” God will place him a new and perfect body—a body that will never, ever suffer or die—a body just like that of Jesus! “Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is (1John 3:2 NLT).” And then, our little buddy will live for all eternity, in his new and perfect body, in a new and perfect kingdom where all of God’s children will truly be created equal.
Oh Lord my God, how great Thou art!