My special needs son, Daniel, lived at home with us till just after his 22nd birthday. He was 22 physically but mentally about the age of one. That meant that he was still in diapers and we still spoon fed him all his meals and snacks. I love Daniel so much. He is one of the happiest and sweetest people I know, but I have to confess that 22 years of changing diapers and feeding him smashed-up food sometimes got very old.
The times when I was really tired and struggling I found it helped me to repeat these verses to myself….sometimes over and over again:
“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” —Matthew 10:42
and “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” —Matthew 25:40
By the time I finished Daniel’s meal, or buttoned up his pants after changing his diaper, I not only felt better, but sometimes I actually felt honored. Because by being Daniel’s mom, I was given the opportunity, almost every day, to feed Jesus a meal or help him stay warm and clean.
Daniel lives in a group home in Columbia now. He seems to be happy to be with his friends. They watch “wrasslin’ together and one of his roommates is trying to teach him to throw a ball into a basket. He loves the food there which is prepared some special way where they don’t have to water it down like I had to to make it smooth enough for him to swallow. We go see him often and he greets us with hugs and smiles. I needed the break from the caregiving, but I miss him…just like all moms miss their grown children.
And now, if I’m not careful, I can easily miss a day or even two of serving Jesus his cup of water by serving others. Having Daniel for a son is a privilege and a lesson….