When Greg Lucas and his wife adopted a baby that had been abandoned to the hospital where his wife worked, they had no idea what was ahead of them. Their son, Jake, seemed normal, healthy, and happy at first. But after his first birthday, he began having seizures where he’d suddenly stop breathing. Various doctors and medications were tried. The seizures eventually stopped, but Jake was left with a series of issues: Sensory Integration Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and autism—just to name a few.
I had read a few of Greg’s blog posts at Wrestling with an Angel via links from Tim Challies. Then in 2010, Greg’s book was published as Wrestling with an Angel: A Story of Love, Disability and the Lessons of Grace. I’ve had the Kindle version for a while, but just recently the audio version was included free with my Audible subscription.
Greg tells of what he’s learned through helping Jake over eighteen years. Jake operated at the level of a two-year-old. Every bath time became a wresting match due to Jake’s severe sensory issues. As Jake got older and stronger, taking care of him became harder.
How do you care for someone who resists your love with violence, who opposes your very presence even when that presence is necessary for his good? How do you keep on loving when the person you are devoted to seems incapable of affection? The only way to make any sense of this kind of relationship is to experience it through the truly unconditional love of the Father (p. 23, Kindle version).
Over and over, Greg and his wife were brought to the total end of themselves in caring for Jake. But they found that a good place to be, because there they could only lean on God’s grace.
Greg writes with raw honesty but also with great sensitivity and beauty. He writes of the grace of an occasional easy day, a glimpse of his son as normal; how humiliation leads to humility, how they found ways to communicate when Jake had only five words in his vocabulary, how dangerous it is when someone can’t express himself, concerns over whether and how much Jake can understand about Jesus and salvation, Jake’s tendency towards injury, concerns about how to take care of Jake as he got older, agonizing over whether to send him to a specialized residential school away from home.
I think this would be an excellent book for someone with a mentally or developmentally disabled child or relative or friend. But I found it beneficial as well, even though I don’t know anyone with problems as severe as Jake’s. The lessons of faith and grace shine through as we realize the spiritual disabilities we all have and our Father’s abundant love in caring for us.