It’s Easter Sunday, the very centre of my beliefs as a Christian, that my Lord and Saviour not only died for me on a cross to carry my sin, but he rose again on the third day to beat death once and for all to enable me (and everyone else who believes) to have eternal life.
I sat in church today and heard the gospel message preached with my beautiful children beside me, just the same as my parents did the generation before. I never tire of hearing the message of Jesus crucified and at 15 it impacted me personally on such a level my life has been rooted and grounded in my faith ever since.
Yet here I am faced with a massive question that has caused me to question my faith in a way I never ever expected: if he wanted to, could my disabled son ever become a Christian?
Why would I ask this? Well every tract I have ever read (there have been hundreds), every gospel message I have heard preached (there have been many) and every evangelist I have listened to have all taught a way to salvation that is fundamentally impossible for my child to ever achieve.
This is Isaac. He is, like everyone of us, made in the image of God. He is the most beautiful and incredible gift ever given to me. He is a true miracle having been prayed for and believed for against all odds. I was given medically less than 1% chance of ever having children yet after ten years of infertility God blessed me with not one, but two, babies. Isaac was the first born of twins. He has soft dark brown hair, hazel eyes that shine light and sparkle with life even if one of them doesn’t work and the other hides a tumour on its optic nerve. He makes noises, though at 9 and a half none of these noises form words that you and I can distinguish. He has severe autism. He has severe learning difficulties. He is epileptic. He has a brain tumour that means he will forever function as a very young child, most likely no more than aged 2 to 3 years.
So when I hear today’s gospel message once again I am crying, not only because the story of my Saviour always touches the very core of my being but because I know how the service will end and I can’t help wondering…
Can my disabled child ever be saved?
You see the way of salvation in the Bible is clear. It is based on such well known and readily quoted verses of so many believers: Romans chapter 10 and verse 9; “That if you confess with your mouth that ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
I believe that.
But what if someone has such significant learning difficulties they will never understand and they can not speak their own name let alone say ‘Jesus is Lord’. What happens then?
Then there’s the famous one in John chapter 3 and verse 16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
I believe that too.
But what about those who are cognitively unable to believe?
I could go on and talk about sin, baptism, the work of the cross, bridging the gap between God and man and all sorts of things that preachers and tracts talk about. Not one of these things will ever be understood by my son.
If he can’t understand the story can he ever believe in God?
He is never going to raise his hand at an alter call. He will never go forward for prayer to turn his life around, he will never hold a microphone and testify to how he was once an addict and now he is a Christian.
The fact of life is, for my son, and so many others, we need to see salvation in a different way.
Maybe I am tearing up the theology books here, maybe I am shaking traditions, but I believe my baby boy will always be saved. He will never be the lost sheep that the Shepherd longed to find. He will never be the prodigal son. He will never sin. The acts of the sinful nature (according to Galatians chapter 5 verses 19-20) are sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like…one thing I can category say is that my son will never do these.
He embodies innocence. As Psalm 139 says he is fearfully and wonderfully made. Like us all he was made in the image of God. But unlike us, he can not choose to sin, neither can he choose to believe.
He can flap as we sing praises, he can make a joyful noise, he can rest in the presence of God. He can feel peace, experience joy and love deeply. I believe he can know God in his Spirit even if his mind and body don’t function as well as we would all like.
I believe he is in the palm of Gods hand.
I believe in grace that a loving God has searched my son and knows his heart, that he is familiar with all his ways. He alone created his inmost being.
God has this covered.
Can my son ever get saved when he can’t believe and confess like every preacher and tract says he has to?
I can’t quote you scripture but my mother’s heart cries out to a God who hears my prayers and is carrying my son both now and forever.
That’s my mother’s cry.