I watched the father of an autistic son recently. The loving care given by this father was visible in many ways, but none brought any emotional response from the son. Knowing this father and son for many years, I recognize the fatherly love and care is genuine. The father has protected and provided in every way possible for his son’s well-being. At 33, the son is now a man and the father has thought about his future and planned for it as well.
There was a moment at this son’s birthday celebration where the father asked for a hug. His specific autism is non-verbal and severe. His ability for functioning is much like a baby. After several coaxings, the son drew near, which was all he could understand, and the father embraced his son. The son walked away with no emotion, no evidence of comprehending, only silence.
Something stirred in me that night. We as human beings have a heavenly father who genuinely loves us and invites us to respond. He wants to communicate with us even when we turn away. He wants us to know He values us, has provided for us and will never stop caring for our needs. The God who created us invites us to draw near, to know Him, to respond to His kindness.
Although the physically autistic son does not have the capacity to respond, he did know he could draw near in that moment, and his father’s arms would reach out. He does know he will be safe when in his father’s care. He knows his father will let him have some nuts, one of his favorite foods! This father has taken the time to understand his son as profoundly as possible, but his heart breaks when he talks of just wanting to know what might be in his son thoughts, whether he knows what life means, how much he understands. One of the father’s griefs is being unable to do things together relationally as other fathers and sons do. He continually loves and values who his son is, knowing there will never be anything given in return.
I found this to be a powerful image of the heart of God for those He has created in His image. Even the best earthly father cannot compare to a heavenly One in the measure of desire for His children to know Him. To reach out to us when we don’t comprehend His love when there’s a rejection-like attitude or we can’t fully grasp His ways. Communication and relationship were only through symbols and abstract methods until He sent One to become like us; His Son who took human form to reveal the heart of His Father and show us how to relate. That passionate love continually pursues us, wanting us to understand, wanting us to draw near for the embrace that awaits, the relationship He desires.
Unlike the autistic son, we do have the ability to communicate with our Father because One stepped into our world and bridged the language of His ways. There are infinite ways that His love is revealed if we choose to see. And the choice becomes ours whether to accept or reject the loving relationship He offers.
When we are ‘born of God’ we begin to grasp the ways that are beyond the natural realm. We are brought out of ‘darkness’ and into His marvelous light. It is a spiritual re-birth that makes everything new, enlightens our understanding and begins a journey for us to know the ways of our Father that go beyond human comprehension.
Copyright 2019 Nadine Helmuth Patton
All Rights Reserved
My books that teach kids (and adults) about how much God loves us, are available on Amazon. Or you can go to my Books page here: Angels on Assignment books