I recently took a trip to visit my parents. Took most of the children with me so that my wife could finish a book project she’s been writing.
This isn’t the first time I’ve slipped away with the children but every time is different as they each get older.
This time I watched as Phineas, now 10, still played with the letter magnets on the refrigerator when most 10-year olds wouldn’t have bothered.
But Phineas has always been different, and FASD often limits much of what he can do.
When we adopted Phineas, we knew there would be struggles. Poor bio parent choices before and after birth allowed for Phineas to join our family. And while he has made great strides in many areas, he’s clearly not—and likely never will be—like one of his peers.
But I believe so strongly in Ephesians 2:10, which says that each of us was created by God with purpose for His glory, that I often wonder what that looks like for Phineas. The Bible says these works were created before we were created, and so I pray often that my children will come to know who they are before God and what they are called to do with every decision in their life.
I admit I don’t know what this looks like in their lives, but with Phineas, there always seems to be even more of a blank page before me. It would be easy to believe that sin has wrecked Phin’s ability to fulfill God’s purpose in him. That choices out of his control have stolen what God intended.
But today, I read John 9:1-4 in a whole new light.
“As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.'”
Part of what Jesus is saying is that it doesn’t matter whether sin was involved because this man’s condition is an opportunity for Christ to show His glory. And He does by healing the man soon after. That this man’s blindness was exactly part of the way God would use this man makes me look at Phineas in a different way.
I’m not excusing the sins that have made everything for Phineas a physical and mental struggle. And neither is God. But knowing that sin would result in who Phineas is, God has also prepared works for Phineas according to his ability.
While there is still day, Phineas has purpose.
And in many ways, Phineas is achieving that purpose every day. As a family, we’ve learned so much about compassion for others no matter where they are in their walks with God. While Phineas may not be writing or speaking a word himself for Christ, in this moment, without realizing, we’ve taken that mantel for him, explaining to anyone who will listen how all people are worthy of life because ultimately they are God’s creation. Whether that be family, friends, doctors or the odd-staring shopper at the grocery store, we want everyone to see Phineas not as someone to be pitied, but as someone to be celebrated with great joy; no matter how small his vocabulary or how hard he must work to solve that 24-piece puzzle, Phineas was made in the image of God!
God’s allowance of Phineas’ condition is “the work of Him.” And as long as it is day, we will continue to work those works so that “God might be displayed in him.”