My older cousin Junior was born with severe cerebral palsy. Not many years ago, I paid him a visit. The first thing I saw when I walked into his room was a picture of me, taped to his dresser mirror.
“Junior, what’s the story behind that picture?” I asked.
His face lit up the room as he began searching for just the right words—gasping between each syllable like a nervous groom repeating his marriage vows—punching out the words one at a time.
“Day..vid…I…pway…fuh…you…evie…day. That you…luv…gee…zus…like…me.”
Most times I’m uncertain if I’m praying for the right things. I figure that God knows about my situation, so a lot of my prayers sound like I’m giving him a “to do” list, informing him about what would be best for me and my family.
Junior, however, prays differently. Here’s a handicapped child who has grown into a remarkable, yet very eccentric man; a man who cannot bathe or dress himself, who cannot read, and who can barely put three words together. He will never hold a job, play a sport, write a check, or own a house. By every standard of our world — standards demanded of us and what we demand of others – Junior is a loser, a misfit, or worse. But never to me.
There have been some rare and fleeting moments in my life when the curtain is pulled back and I discover that what I call reality, the world I live in each day, lies within a greater world, a more real, rock-bottom Reality. Somehow, I’ve known that this Reality belongs to God.
Every day my cousin speaks my name to God and connects me to the goodness and grace filling that larger Reality, the reality that he inhabits every day. Junior’s ambition is to love Jesus and pray that I love him too, to lead me into a passionate, reckless devotion to the God who surely loves us all.
There’s a remarkable wisdom in that little-boy brain frozen inside a man’s body. Somehow it seems to know and to offer the one thing any of us really needs.