Friday, January 20, 2006

In April of 1983, I took a job with an agency in Indianapolis which provided services to and for individuals with developmental disabilities. I had the privilege of working with many wonderful people within that realm, for 21 years.

One of the characteristics that many of them had in life was a joy in their circumstances. A joy that seems to be lacking in the lives of many Christians. Having joy, as a believer, comes naturally. The lack of it, reveals sin issues in our lives.

One of the men I worked with for a few years, before we found him a job in the community, was James. James was a believer, who attended church each Sunday, and carried with him the joy of his salvation. He was amazing. His zest for life, and zeal for sharing that life with others was humbling. James did not present as an individual with diabilities. The issue that gave him away was his inability to connect his speech with his intended words.

He struggled to form the words correctly, and his pattern of speech often included clicks and uninteneded utterances. This complicated his opportunities to share with people. They often grew impatient with his attempts, or ignored him. My own staff struggled a great deal to understand him.

I found that the times I struggled most to "hear" him were when I was in a hurry. If I could clear my mind, relax, and give him a chance to share, I could usually understand him. This became interpretation of another kind.

I remember many times after he got a job, he would call and want to talk. Talking to James in person was one thing... he would muster body language that would persuade his inferences in a direction that was beneficial to your comprehension... on the phone was a brand new foray into communications. My patience was tested time after time, as we tried to have a conversation. His patience was tested as well, since the dummy on the other end of the line was not "getting it!"

Amid these attempts to communicate, I believe the Lord showed me something. One of those things that was obvious after I realized it. You see, James loves to sing. When he sang, you could understand virtually, every word. Upon this realization, we had discussions which revealed that James sang in the choir at church, and he often performed solos.

I was humbled again. To see this man offer up his all in song, in words that were completely understood, was something I did not give him the benefit of in my thoughts about his life. I was wrong. There was way more to him than the obvious.

Do you know that we broke new ground in communicating? I found that if I asked him to sing what he was trying to say, he could convey his point much more effectively! I still remember the meeting in which he demonstrated this for his sister. She was shocked! Her whole demeanor changed. She was already a very caring individual, but when she saw something in her brother that was brand new, emotion was quick to follow.

I think sometimes that our attempts or failures to hear from God are this way. Our expectations are replete with hearing His voice in ways He is not speaking. He told Elijah that His voice was not in the thunder, the heavy winds, the roaring sea, the obvious. His voice is found in still small unintelligible ways compared to our expectations. He is sharing with us. We just have to learn to discern His voice. We must separate it from the multitude of worldly voices screaming around us.

God still speaks to us today. We must slow down, relax, and learn to "listen."

Lattany, I am praying for your trip, your nephew, and your family. Thank you for hearing His voice, and responding to it in simple obedience. The enemy is fighting against you, but our God will prevail. Be encouraged, and serve!

Serving the King beside you,



At 8:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Brent for the reminder that sometimes when I don't hear God it's not because He isn't speaking, it's because of my lack of proper listening. I do love that scripture reference with Elijah.
I too, am lifting up those bloggers who have made their needs and requests known. What a priviledge it is to pray for brothers and sisters I don't even know, but have the assurance that our Heavenly Father knows them and the situations and already has a plan.
God Bless.


At 8:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brent & Deanna:
Thank you for your gift of sharing in words what God is speaking to you. You have such an awesome way of writing and I know you are not doing this to receive the glory for it but so many people are being encouraged by both of your writings. There are a few members from our Sunday School class that at least weekly comment on how much they enjoy reading your dailing messages and are encouraged by them. Thank you.
Also, you wrote on Thursday about pictures. As you know Arin is doing her assignment about BJ and we were looking through some old photos. Of course the ones we have of him are attending Ryan's third and fourth birthdays which was 10 years ago. I forgot that he wore glasses. I have a couple of photos that we will use for the project and would love to share the completed project with you if you would like it.

Thanks again for sharing your emotions and your feelings with so many of us.

Christal Mearig
Huntington Beach, CA

At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is amazing the amount of love available to those who choose to tap into it. Photographs and videos are so amazing in preserving memories of days gone by and for remembrance of love in the smiles of those we share time with. I pray for you that they bring joy beyond measure and a peace that relieves grief, if only for a little while.

At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's amazing to me how our Lord speaks to us. I was just thinking of how you seem to hear the Lord's voice/direction for your life in so many ways and I was going to write asking how you do it. Now, instead, the Lord spoke to you to share how. It is such a good reminder that He is always there, knocking on our door, if we would just open it to Him. I also really liked the story about James. Often with people that might be a bit different, we focus on those differences, we may appreciate the occasional uniqueness but get frustrated with struggles way too easy. I have tried to pay more attention to this on my own lately. Really listening to someone who communicates differently or with trouble or being sure to reach out to those who others tend to just walk right by. Everyone wants to feel loved, connected with, and needed. We can't always assume the "other person" will do it, so I don't have to. Thank you, Brent, for your daily reminders about the love God wants us to have and show to others. Blessings on all of you today.

At 1:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brent and Deanna,
Thank you again for your amazing posts. I know that I have never met you, but through your words and the stories I hear, I feel strengthened. Thank you guys for putting so much joy in my friend Barbara Ann's heart. This week, I heard of the many great experiences you guys shared including the fun lotion fight. :) It is great to see that through her obedience to go see you, she was so blessed. I look forward to meeting you at training this summer.

Walking w/ all authority,
Katie Kyle
Piedmont, OK

At 1:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautiful reminder...thank you for sharing. God is always so faithful to speak to us.
Youngstown, OH

At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the San Diego girl ni Tulsa, Oklahoma reporting from the AWE STAR office - Thanks for God's connection through BJ's Story!!! HE IS FAITHFUL!

Love you all and am PRAYING for my fellow bloggers - Lattany, you are LIFTED UP!

In His grip~

Laurel Lynn <><

At 5:29 PM, Blogger Praying in Pink said...

An excellent resource for those wishing to learn more about hearing God speak is the Bible study (and several related books)"Experiencing God" by Henry Blackaby and Claude King. Thank you, God (and James, and Brent) for reminding us to LISTEN!

Marla, our friends were part of the church my husband pastored in Vista and are now part of a church family in Oceanside--but I know they would be grateful for your prayers and--who knows? Sheryl is facing this with His grace and many prayers. Thanks!

Praying for you, Brent and Deanna, and asking God to remind me of the many heart-concerns brought before us this week. He is speaking--and He can open our ears. . .


At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am one of the most impatient people you will ever's post gave me something to remeber next time i get mpatient. thank you for opening my heart, mind, and eyes. i pray for you everyday.
lizzy-KC MO

At 7:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyday as I read your post I have a comment but I restrain myself from answering every time. Todays post really touched me and my heart. I have a 31 year old developementally delayed daughter..She does not always exhibit the the joy you mention..She does know and love the Lord and belongs to a College age group at our church..Many of the others in that class do not give her the time of day. There is one Girl who is a special ed teacher who is willing to spend time {outside of the church activities} with her. Our daughters name is Martha and it is thru her that we know Chris and Marla...They have known Martha for over 10 years and have remained her friends even tho we dont live close to them anymore.
They make sure to keep in contact with us and call Martha when she needs them to. Maybe they learned this from you Brent?? However they learned it they have been caring and compassionate people and included Martha in their lives
in their high school group and in their lives outside of church. I thank them and you for having a caring heart for this population of people who are often ignored and shunned by the rest of the world. When we were on our way home from Oregon after our granddaughter Nikkis funeral Martha had to talk to Marla. Her grief was so great over the loss of Nikki as was ours and she needed someone to love her besides her parents..Marla prayed for her and us..Martha cares for Landy Taddie and Claydee and talks of them often..That is how she is she is a caring young lady and once a person had been a friend to her they are a friend for life..Praise God friends in Christ are friends forever..Thank you Brent for befriending James and sharing his story. Chris and Marlas friend in California..Rona

At 12:24 AM, Blogger Lattany said...

Thank you for your prayers.

I leave my house at 2:45AM, this morning. Anxious to see how God will work through us and oh so excited to be headed back, fully confident that this is His will for me. No greater joy.

I look forward to returning to you all in a few weeks,

Fairfax, VA, USA

At 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Bless you and your family...I log in daily to hear from you.
Greenfield, Indiana

At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that listening is my weakness. I'm much rather tell the Lord what i'm thinking and hope He's gonna alter His plans.. but we alll know is just doesn't work like that.

I have my ECHO on Monday.. be in prayer for that. I'd really rather have an answer for whats going on.. but i know that they may find nothing.. so we'll see. I'll keep you posted.. I know you'll be waiting w/baited breath =)

praying for you always..
love you guys


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