Maybe it isn’t disabled people who need healing
What if we all get to heaven and realise disabled people were healed all along? Rachel Wright shares a modern day parable
In his time, Jesus was known for turning things upside down. He told parables that confounded the wise and excited the marginalised. One day, my husband and I sat chatting about another story Jesus might have told…
There was once a father who loved his son.
When the son was young he contracted meningitis and suffered brain damage that affected his lower limbs and speech. Because the father dearly loved his son, he devoted his life to nursing his son with compassion and tenderness. Daily the father woke in the dark stillness of their home and began each morning kneeling by his bed in prayer. Diligently and passionately he prayed for his son to be healed.
There were days when the burden of care was difficult and overwhelming, but the father was determined not to show his son the strain he felt. He continued to dedicate himself to caring, the smile on his face never portraying the heaviness in his heart. The seasons changed and the son’s peers grew from boys to men. They rose up to look the father in the eyes, as they walked tall and talked of their future careers.
Months became years yet the passion in the father’s voice didn’t fade, as he fervently called on God to heal his beloved son. Then each day, the father looked down at his son, contained within a wheelchair, dependent on care, limited by stairs and hampered by prejudice.
One day the father rose to pray, only to find his son had died. Within a week he stood, heartbroken, by his dear son’s grave.
Rain soaked the father’s hair as drops followed a well-worn path of many tears. The brave smile was gone and the raw pain of the last 20 years savagely exposed. Amidst his grief, the father was comforted by the belief that his son was finally whole. He had so longed to see his son healed, and in his absence he finally was.
He imagined his son running and smiling, enjoying the beauty and eternity of heaven.
For years, the father visited his son’s grave until one day he too was called home and found himself opening his eyes to the beauty of heaven. His heart swelled at the excitement of seeing his son in all his wholeness.
As his vision came into focus, the father found himself gazing into the unforgettable brilliance of his son’s dazzling blue eyes. He held his gaze, not wanting to look away, captured by the experience of being able to look directly into his sons face. Finally, they stood as equals.
Smiles grew and laughter echoed as they embraced once again.
Then slowly as the father withdrew he noticed he wasn’t standing, but rather sitting opposite his son. Looking down his spirit stilled. He realised his son remained in the same old, battered wheelchair.
Like a dawn light sweeping across the land, he began to realise that he too was strapped into a wheelchair. With confusion in his eyes he looked up again at his son’s face, who hadn’t stopped laughing or smiling. Without a word from his father the son began to speak and sign.
“Dad, welcome to heaven.
You’ll love it here.
Don’t worry about the wheelchair it doesn’t stop you enjoying all the best of living.
Here we don’t value independence because it’s all about interdependence.
No one is burdened with care because we all help one another, living as God created us to be; part of one community, his family.
No one is in need because we share.
No one is left out because we are inclusive.
There are no disabilities because they only exist when the world does not accommodate our needs.
Our vulnerability is not weakness, but an opportunity for love and relationship.
Everything God treasures is here; peace, joy, hope, faithfulness and especially love.”
The father’s mouth dropped open as he began to look around heaven. It seemed everyone had a ‘frailty’; a need that was supported by others. This was a tactile world, alive with colour, smells and noise. Everywhere people were signing as they communicated; there were no stairs, no inaccessible places, no isolation, no burdens too heavy to bear.
All around him the father saw serving with laughter and love without limits.
‘So this is heaven, this is healing.’
Picture: Nikita No Komment | Flickr | Creative Commons
Rachel is a nurse, writer, wife and mum of three boys. Her eldest son was born with complex disabilities. The Skies I’m Under is her memoir of living with faith and an unexpected life. She blogs at Born at the Right Time, where this piece was first published, and worships with her family at Belle Vue Baptist Church in Southend-on-sea.