Autism and God

Welcome everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’ve been writing all this month on Autism Awareness Month and looking at Autism from the perspective of one diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Tonight, I’d like to consider how that works in the relationship with God.

Right at the start, I wonder about the idea people have about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. For most people, you’d think that they have regular conversations with God. The relationship can seem to be treated in such a cavalier attitude that I wonder if there is anything to it. Also, people never seem to talk about times of great anger or doubt with God when they use this terminology. God always makes them happy. He never makes them angry or sad.

A lady at my church heard me once when I was speaking and in conversation about that with me months later told me she saw me as a great lover of God. I replied that I would be the last one to see myself that way. What does that mean? If it means that whenever I think of God I get an exceedingly strong joy in my soul and just want to sing and rejoice, then no. I don’t think I could hardly be described that way.

However, what if we went with another view of love? This is the one I think most relevant today. This is the love not rooted in feeling and emotion but rooted in a devotion that one seeks the good of the beloved. Now clearly, we can’t bring good to God in the sense that we can improve Him or give Him glory He does not already have. However, we can seek that which He seeks. We can seek to show the reality that He is highly exalted already.

This I think is a stronger love anyway. In a conversation with a friend of mine who is in ministry recently, we both noted how that for a lot of us, the more passionate a young student seems for Jesus, the more we worry. Too many students are going to Bible College and Seminary wanting to preach and saying “I love Jesus!” and thinking that’s enough.

It’s good that you do, but that doesn’t qualify you to lead the church. It doesn’t qualify you to teach. It doesn’t make what you say more authoritative and the danger is so many people will believe that it does about themselves. Anyone can love God when things are going well in their lives and situations are easy. What will you do when God seems absent? What will you do when you go through the dark night of the soul? Will you love Him then?

I heard today about William Stillman and how he’s written a book called “Autism and the God Connection.” This can show how different we can be on the spectrum at times as I was told he writes about seeing a stained-glass window in church as a boy of six and had to be taken out of the service because he was crying so much. Some thought he was just trying to offend in some ways, but the reality is he was thinking about the pain of what Jesus went through.

From my perspective, that’s difficult to think about as it’s so hard to step outside and feel the other. Hence, some statements connect and some don’t. When I hear a theologian talking about the attributes of God in a highly analytical sense, I can be connected. When I hear someone talking about strong experiences of God, I tend to put my guard up immediately. This is especially true in a day and age of numerous cults and false teachings.

This can make prayer interesting as well as I am certainly not a prayer warrior and while some can spend a good hour a day in prayer, I’m nowhere near there yet. Usually, unless we’re way too tired, my wife and I pray together every night after asking each other how we can pray for one another. It is a deep connection time and always brings our needs to the forefront.

If you asked if I have a strong and vibrant prayer life, I could not say I do at this point. Nor would I count myself as one who really practices devotionals, as they’re called. I read a chapter of the old and new testament in the morning and then my wife and I read a chapter often before bed at night. Maybe that’s my own personality only. If you’re someone who can pray this much however, then God bless you. I’m certainly not going to stop you.

However, for those who are wanting to reach someone with Asperger’s or Autism, just keep in mind again how you’re interacting. Are you speaking on a level of God that the person will understand. In fact, to be even more careful, are you speaking of God in a way that is accurate?

Just something to ponder.