My heart did a little happy dance last week on the way home from Bible Study. I, with five of my kiddos, was crammed into an overloaded taxi. (And by ‘overloaded’ I mean a 14-passenger van stuffed with 20 people, a toddler, two babies, and six chickens.) Once we had boarded, my youthful little ones wasted no time with their typical, playful banter—joking, teasing and laughing with each other. Immediately, I saw heads turning. There were glances…and then double-takes from the other passengers as they observed this peculiar hand-gesturing communication that was happening.
(Side note: It is a common misconception that Deaf people and their conversations are quiet. Though sign language in and of itself is an unspoken language, it is still very animated and expressive. Hence, sign language is not as silent as one might imagine. Additionally, people who are profoundly deaf are often unaware of the sounds around them as well as the sounds they are making during a conversation. To a person unfamiliar with deafness, these noises may sound strange and sometimes alarming.)
Needless to say, my kids were having a blast and as a result, they were making a little bit of noise...okay, maybe more than a little…
After all of the glances and stares, the comments soon began to follow; they hailed from all sides of the taxi. And I’ll admit, most of what the other passengers were saying, I either didn’t hear clearly or I just didn’t understand. (I am doing my best to learn Luganda, but I am far from fluent. And my own hearing loss is an additional barrier sometimes.)
Still, I was able to clearly see that people were fascinated and quite intrigued by my kids and their unique language. The curious onlookers were very quick to admit to each other that they had no idea what was being said (signed) and that they wished they knew. (Welcome to MY world, folks. And welcome to the world of my Deaf children.)
But remember when I said that my heart was doing a happy dance?...
Here’s why: There was a woman sitting in the back of the taxi with us, smack dab in the middle of our (somewhat noisy) chatter. She had been looking this way and that for several minutes, perplexed by the little hands that moved busily around her. I watched as she paused for a moment, then a humble smile came to her face as she boldly announced to the other passengers, “These kids may be deaf, but you see, they sure are happy!”
And there it was—God’s light shining ever so brightly in that dimly-lit taxi.
Here in Uganda, and in communities around the world, people see a deaf child and automatically discount their value and potential. It is often believed that because a child is unable to hear, they are also unable to read, write, learn, work, etc. But Friday night was different.
In the back of that crowded taxi, I trust that God spoke to hearts and affirmed in them what I have known in my own heart for a while: We are all created for a purpose. He knows each of us better than we know ourselves. Scripture says that, “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart...” Jeremiah 1:5. We are His workmanship, created to do good things (Eph 2:10) and a child’s deafness cannot stop Him from being glorified. Our God is much bigger than that. In fact, only He has the ability to turn their pain into praises and their rejection into rejoicing. And for sure, He and the angels rejoice each time He is able to shine His light through those precious vessels.
I realize that most people don’t want to admit that God intentionally made a child deaf…(I find it more common that people want to ‘pray away’ their deafness.) But could it be that my children’s deafness is just part of His elaborate plan? An opportunity for Him to receive praise and glory in unsuspecting places? Is it possible that my children can be other examples of ‘nobodies’ that God has carefully chosen to follow Him and be a reflection of Himself. We see numerous other examples of such transformations throughout scripture: Moses, Job, Joseph, Esther… People who came from nowhere, without a resume, and without the necessary skills. But despite that, God uses each of them in profoundly powerful ways. Perhaps my babies are among them?
I believe that thousands of years ago, God saw all of us in that taxi and knew that a group of [cute] Deaf children would be the perfect way to show His love and mercy. Nothing about that taxi ride was an accident—not even my children’s deafness. Everything was orchestrated by God, for God.
And the part about this story that I think I love most…my kids didn’t even realize the looks, the stares, the comments…they were too busy being full of joy to even recognize what had happened that night. I truly believe that God has filled their hearts with an undeniable joy which has primed them and prepared them to be used by Him no matter what the circumstance.
|Leading praise and worship at Bible study:|
I am always amazed at how much I learn from my kiddos. Friday night was no exception.
Which leads me to this question: Are we finding joy and contentment in the circumstances of our lives? Or are our impure hearts getting in the way of what God wants to do through us?