I was reading Rob Bell’s Sex God for a class the other day, and this excerpt really caught my attention. Now, if you’re expecting some juicy, scandalous, hormone-feeding eye candy, I’m sorry; this excerpt has nothing to do with sex. Instead it has everything to do with bringing heaven to earth and seeing everybody as God sees us—as human.
I have a new hero. Her name is Lil, and I would guess she’s in her late fifties. I met her earlier this year when she introduced me to her daughter, whom she was pushing in a wheelchair. Early in their marriage, Lil and her husband decided that they would adopt two children. As they became familiar with the family service system, they learned that there were kids in the system nobody wanted. So they went to the local adoption agency and asked for the kids with the most pronounced disabilities, the most traumatic histories, and the most hopeless futures. They asked if they could have the kids nobody wanted. Over the past thirty or so years, they have raised well over twenty children, raising their biological children alongside their adopted children.
When Lil got to this point in her story, she reached down and patted her daughter and said, “This is Crystal. She’s twenty-seven years old but will be about six months old developmentally for the rest of her life. She can’t talk or walk or move or feed herself or do anything on her own. She will be like this, totally dependent on us, until the day she dies. And I love her so much. My family and I, we can’t imagine life without her. She makes everything so much better.”
What is Lil doing?
She’s bringing heaven to earth.
She gives us a glimpse into another realm. Into a better way. The way of God.
She and her family have taken kids who were discarded because of their perceived lack of worth and said, “No, you are not to be rejected and turned away. We are going to love you as an equal, as a human, as one of us.”
They show us how God loves us.
They reflect the image. And when you see it lived out like this, you’re seeing heaven crash into earth.
Instead of seeing labels like, “handicapped,” “reject,” or “invalid,” Lil and her husband and her kids see only one label: “human.”
And so they have only one response: love.
And it makes all the difference in heaven and earth.
This isn’t just about loving the disabled, although that is part of it. This is about loving people, simply because we are all human. We’re all in this together. We were all created in the image of God and are all considered sons and daughters of God. Our Father did not intend for us to label each other, thus creating divides among each other. We all have stories. Some terrible, and some not so terrible. We all have a past, and we all have a future. How are we loving each other in the present? What labels do we place on others? How does that affect the way we treat them and love them? These are all questions that I have yet to answer for myself.