by DanWolgemuth on October 13, 2017

“He’s the joy of my life.”

The words exploded from the lips of Nick Wallace. Nick is a friend and a member of the Taylor University Board of Trustees. His reflective words were about his 26-year-old son, Ben.


A son.

A beautiful script. A father’s love. Expressed openly and emphatically.

But there’s more. So much more.

Ben Wallace, the son of my friend Nick, has Down’s Syndrome.

While Ben won’t ever attend the university where Nick and I share board responsibilities, he will bring unconstrained amounts of joy. He is incredibly adept at sharing and invoking love.

Ben is nonverbal, but his vocabulary is immense. He’s five foot even, but a giant.

Joy isn’t calibrated by perfection. It isn’t confined or defined by convenience or self-sufficiency.

In fact, vulnerability increases the velocity of love and life and tenderness.

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left. (Matthew 19:13-15)

Joy. Delivered through children, and those with a perpetual childlike heart. Ben Wallace.

Amplified through the words of Jesus.

Ben, and so many others like him, deliver what a fully engineered resume can’t. Unfettered joy. Unencumbered delight.

In Nick’s own words… “Ben does not have a strategy or a five-year plan with short-term tasks and deadlines to support the long-term goal. God just uses him. Just as he is. And his influence spreads love and joy. That’s my Ben.”

Culturally we do our best to navigate around imperfection. We avoid the very thing that could transform our soul. We terminate transcendent joy.

I’m sure that Nick and Peri wouldn’t have drawn it up quite this way… but their love and trust in God opened their hearts to embrace a plan that eclipsed their own. I sit in their classroom. I learn lessons from them.

Lessons about joy. Pure joy. Unembellished joy. Amplified only by the breath of God.

“God, forgive me for the times that I’ve asked for less than you want to give me. Forgive me for defining joy in my own terms.”


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