Perhaps one of the most challenging
times in our ministry was when we packed our suitcases and
flew to Dallas from Portugal. Because Chase had been traumatized
and had stopped speaking coherently, it was imperative to
at least have him evaluated emotionally and mentally. We
came to the Dallas area for a two week vacation, during
which we had appointments for Chase in speech and counseling.
We had every intention of returning home, to Lisbon.
However, primarily because
of his behavior, Chase was diagnosed as autistic by a child
psychologist here in Dallas. Then, he had to be further
evaluated by a qualified speech therapist. I’ll never
forget that first awful speech appointment. Chase would
not make eye contact with anyone, and the therapist could
not get him to respond to her in any way. Tears filled my
eyes as she kept asking him questions—about his body
parts, about colors, and toys. Chase acted totally oblivious
to her presence—as if he were the only one in the
room. I knew that he could have spoken and given her the
right answers just a few months before! I tried to explain
that he knew…somewhere “in there” he
knew...but every verbal attempt on my part seemed
feeble. I wanted to run out of the room—I could feel
the adrenalin pumping through me as I struggled to stay
and endure that appointment. I silently pleaded with my
son to say just one comprehensible word.
After the evaluation, the speech
therapist also mentioned autism. I argued through my tears—insisting
that he was fine before the attack. But apparently autism
can work that way—taking a perfectly normal 3 or 4
year old, and turning his little mind inward…totally
debilitating his social and verbal skills. She handed me
a packet of literature explaining autism and the suggested
treatment plan. Despairingly, I accepted it.
Then, she reached over and
stroked Chase’s legs and arms. She touched his head
and face, and even held his hands. I watched her as a glimmer
of hope crossed her face.
“But look! He doesn’t
mind if I touch him. That’s a good sign. Now…if
I could just get him to notice me…I want to see him
every day during the week.”
Our two week vacation turned
into a month, and then longer. We began to realize that
God was calling us back to the States, to concentrate on
Chase’s well-being. We wouldn’t be going back
to Portugal. For awhile, anyway, we set aside our emotions
and longing for the mission field, and began the journey
down Chase’s long and arduous road of healing.
After several weeks of speech
and play therapy, we finally had a breakthrough! Chase not
only responded and noticed the speech therapist, but he
said a word she could understand…yucky.
The therapist discovered that she could get Chase to participate
a little by giving him candy as a reward. On this memorable
day, he dropped his piece of candy. He reached for it, to
eat it anyway, and the therapist said, “No, Chase,
don’t eat it! Yucky!”
Chase hesitated, then, repeated
over and over, “Yucky! Yucky! Yucky!”
He had heard her, and he had
responded! What a joyous day!
Slowly, we began to see progress!
The old Chase that we had known before wasn’t there
anymore, but slowly God was initiating healing in this new
little soul. We were so excited when he actually began to
chatter again, as a new baby does when first learning to
talk! We could understand real English words, though
not in the right order.
In order to encourage Chase
to talk, we gave him an old yellow phone receiver, broken
off of an old toy phone. This seemed to inspire him! He
would chatter into that phone receiver, saying words that
we actually recognized! He stuttered a lot, but we would
gratefully “hang” on every word he said—we
were so excited to hear him communicating! True, the process
was slow, but now…though he still silently stutters—repeating
words quietly to himself—you wouldn’t know he
ever had trouble speaking! We find ourselves telling him
to be quiet and to stop talking at the dinner table. That
brings complete joy to my heart.
When I first began asking God
to teach me to pray, I felt as helpless as little Chase
with that yellow phone receiver. I would make feeble attempts
to communicate with my heavenly Father, but the words came
out all wrong. I found I repeated myself a lot. I found
that the same shyness I struggled with among people, I felt
before God. I just didn’t know what to say! Oh, I
could think of plenty of things to ask for…but
I knew that God wanted more from me in my prayers.
That’s when God began
to show me how to use His Word, in the same way that Chase
used that old phone receiver. When I wanted to seek forgiveness
and cleansing, I would pray the very words David used in
Psalm 51 or at the end of Psalm 139. David’s words
also helped me as I repeated the praises that he penned
so many years ago.
I became newly inspired! Communication
was easier with my receiver! If I wanted to pray for something
specific for my husband, or children, or even for myself,
I looked intently into His Word—my very own phone
receiver—and found just the right words to say to
my Father. It took time, but it was worth the journey.
I smile to think how elementary
my prayers must have been at first. But what joy those first
attempts must have given my heavenly Father! Just like we
rejoiced over every new word Chase learned, and then every
new sentence he finally put together—our Father rejoices
in our attempts to communicate with Him—our first
words and utterances before a Holy God.
Perhaps you have felt as I
did—and still feel at times, when I stray from Him.
Perhaps the words don’t come easily, and you struggle
and stutter with what to say in prayer. Pick up the phone
receiver, His Word. He has given us example after example
of prayers in His Word, prayed by great men and women of
God! Find those verses, pray them back to Him. Praying His
Word honors the Lord, and teaches you so much about prayer
communication. There are verses that the Spirit is just
waiting to show you—verses the Spirit wants to teach
you to pray back to the Father—even in a way that
no one else can. His Word is so personal, so alive, so amazing.
And one more thing. There really
is Someone on the other side of that receiver. And how He
loves you! He is hanging on your every word.
you are new in the faith—or perhaps you’ve never
been taught how to find Bible verses. Maybe it’s been
awhile since you looked into His letter of love to you.
Lygia would love to help you draw closer to Him through
His Word. Please write her at Lvng4Jesus@charter.net
© 2011. Faith Matters by Lygia Lovelace. All rights