He stands on the shore of Prairie Lake, swinging his arms and jumping up and down like Michael Phelps preparing to break another world record. It is a rainy, chilly day but he doesn’t seem to notice as he rushes down the hill into the cold water to stand with our pastor. His people cheer as he comes out of the water and rushes to shore, into the arms of Mom and Dad and the embrace of a dry towel to ease his shivering.
My son Ben is 25 years old. He has the heart of a child and the scruffy beard of a young man. He was born with Down Syndrome and Autism, two holes in his heart and the inability to speak. He was born with a soul precious to God.
Ben has been in church his whole life, loved and nurtured by the family of God. But this past spring, something happened. The Holy Spirit connected with Ben’s spirit, and my boy who couldn’t understand sin, repentance and the plan of salvation, strode to the front of the church signing “Jesus, Jesus” and pointing to the cross and his heart. Pastor Keith and his dad prayed with him up there, and afterwards he saluted the cross before returning to his seat and drumming wildly to the worship music.
Communion used to be a chance to drink grape juice, but now he lifts his cup to the cross and points to his heart before he partakes. He still drums madly and plays air guitar during the songs, but now he sometimes also raises his hands and closes his eyes. Something happened that day – heaven came down and glory filled his soul.
Somehow, the boy who doesn’t have any conceptual thought, understands this: that Jesus loves him. And so Ben loves him back. And we weep, those who have walked this long road with him, for the glory of it.