|Answering Samuel's questions on the Sea of Galilee|
But we had such a wonderful experience this morning that I felt impressed to share it with as many people as we could, friends and family foremost but also many of you who, for whatever reasons, have been following our adventures in the Holy Land on this blog. I just told my students yesterday when we were holding a devotional in the Synagogue Church in Nazareth that they should be prepared for the Lord to touch them and talk to them in unexpected ways and at unexpected times, not just when they were at the big sites like Gethsemane, the Garden Tomb, or the Holy Sepulchre. And that is just what happened to us today with our sweet son, Samuel.
Those of you who know us personally know all about our family situation. And those who have just started following this blog for whatever reason have probably picked up that our son struggles with the challenges of autism. This is always a challenge and there are frequent disappointments, among which is our sadness that he has not, by and large, been able to understand or appreciate what we have been experiencing here in the Holy Land. There have been a couple of experiences, such as when I read to him (and the rest of the family) about Jesus' experience in Gethsemane on site or when he sang so sweetly and with such joy at Shepherds Field on Christmas Eve. And perhaps the most important experience, up til now, was when the Lord turned a disastrous experience at an Easter play into a wonderful teaching experience right at the Garden Tomb. But I think that we witnessed the greatest miracle today.
|Sam waiting for the Gamla, our boat|
On other occasions I have gotten my family to the Mount of Beatitudes and to Capernaum but never on the boat ride, and Elaine was intent on having all of us do that today. Rachel is joining my class on most of our Galilee field trips, but Elaine really wanted Samuel to experience this too. He has never been on a real boat before, but when we started talking to him about it, he did not seem that interested. Last night, in fact, he began to express hesitation and some worry. "Are there sharks in the Sea of Galilee, Dad?"
|All my family together on a Galilee boat ride, where we could remember the miracles that our Lord performed on this very lake, calming the storm and walking on water|
I came up to be with him, mostly to make sure that he did not fall in the water! With one arm around him I asked him if he knew what Jesus had done here on the Sea of Galilee. I told him that at least twice he had helped his friends when they were on a boat and a big storm scared them. And then I said that on one of those times, Jesus actually walked across the water to help the disciples.
"How did he walk on water, Dad?"
"Well, Jesus can do anything, Samuel."
"He is the Son of God, so he can do anything that Heavenly Father can do, and he uses that power to help us, just like he helped his friends long ago."
|Our precious Samuel, thinking hard about things on the Galilee boat|
What you need to understand is that as functional as Samuel is, his autism continues to impact him severely in verbal communication. He can understand pretty much anything we say to him (if he will pay attention while we are saying it!) and express most of what he wants to say. But he just does not always have much of a desire to communicate, and he rarely asks the "how," "why," "what," and "when" kind of questions. Further more, a conversation rarely progresses much beyond three or four turns (exchanges), but this morning he must have asked me at least 20 questions, each of them deep.
"How is Jesus the Son of God, Dad?" Well, son, do you remember what we talk about at Christmas each year, how Mary had the Baby Jesus? Well, his father was God.
"How did that happen, Dad?" Any of you try to answer that one to a nine year old! It was a miracle, Sam. But it really happened.
"Why does Jesus bless us?" Because like Heavenly Father, he loves us and wants to help us.
"What is Jesus' power, Dad? How much is it?" Jesus has the same power that God does. It is the same power by which the world was created, so he can do anything to help us.
"How did God create the world?" Well, buddy, you know how you like to make things out of play dough? God take dust and gas and stars and space itself and makes stuff out of it.
"Thousands of people have died, Dad." I know, pal. That is why we like Easter so much. "But if they all come alive again, where will they all live?" We are so overwhelmed with the sentiment of the resurrection, I do not think that most of us think much about the practicalities!
Finally Samuel said, "I know I am asking a lot of questions, Dad. But I just need to know stuff."
And then the miracle was over. Some water sprayed up and a jet or something flew by, distracting him. And then he was just a cute but autistic boy again, staring absently at the water as the boat cruised along.
|I am amazed at God's love for my son and his mercy to all of us.|
I could hardly talk, and less than ten minutes later the captain cut the engine so that we could have our traditional devotional in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. We read Mark 4 and sang. We read Matthew 14 and sang. But most of all I testified, testified of the miracle that had just happened to my son and the miracles that could happen to each of us. And now I have testified to you.
|The Sea of Galilee is the scene of miracles, even today, not just in the time of Jesus (click to enlarge the panorama)|