What I’m Learning from Wesley, My New Teacher

Keith KettenringBible Insights, Christian Living

In December, a child entered my life, not unlike Jesus himself. I may be a heretic, but I think he’s about as close to an image of Jesus as a human can be. I don’t think this is hyperbole or simply a proud grandpapa bragging on his new grandson. He has changed my life. Not only an adjustment to my schedule, prayers, and thoughts. He has wiggled his precious self into my heart and snuggled there warming every cell with his innocent goodness.

Wesley is a precious gift from God’s love who has been diagnosed with Downs Syndrome. Practically, that sets his parents, and all of us, on a different path of compassionate care for him. However, it also softens our hearts to a depth of love we never knew possible…at least for me anyway. Everyone else was probably there already.

Without a doubt, I love Wesley with all my being. Yet there is also a humble acknowledgment that every part of my being needs Wesley. I sit at his feet, open my heart, and learn from him. (My favorite way to hold him is while sitting down in outstretched arms with Wesley facing me, full-body, looking into each other’s face, eyes attentive to the other…his feet at my stomach. Literally, I’m sitting at his feet.)

It’s hard to put into words, but Wesley has rocked my inner world disrupting me in significant ways I never imagined. Here are a few things he’s refurbishing in me during his first 8 weeks of life:

  • He is not “productive” but changes my life simply by being alive. His value to my life does not depend on anything he does. He simply exists. Yet, by existing, he affects everyone around him. Wesley slays my penchant to think I only matter if I am productive. I’ve sold my soul to the notion that my value lies in my performance and competency. Wesley shatters my misguided understanding and renovates my heart. He reorients my relationship with God to one of simple being. He lives in a pointless yet dynamic relationship with me and that is enough.
  • This little man effortlessly lives solely dependent on others for his well-being. Practically, he can do very little without his mother and father. He clearly demonstrates all that is entailed in what is called “faith.” His ability and need to trust is unwavering and integral to his being.  I lack that kind of faith. So, I learn from Wesley what it is to have faith in God. He’s the teacher, I’m the student. He teaches me to trust God by how he lives moment by moment. I rely on my own abilities and thinking to get me through life. Wesley doesn’t do that. When it comes to reliance on God, I need to be a Wesley.
  • When I look into his eyes, I see a little human free from the derelictions and defects which I possess. He exudes gentleness, dependency, quietness, goodness, and simplicity…attributes that characterize Jesus Christ. He is profoundly more like Jesus than I am or ever will be on earth. My heart genuinely aches to be like him. He’s my new hero in every sense of the word. I want to be like him in heart and spirit.
  • The kingdom belongs only to those who are childlike, Jesus says. For me to “get in,” I need to become a Wesley. Yet, I am far from being like him. What words can describe such a heart and mind as Wesley’s – guileless, humble, meek, innocent, pure, untainted, or virtuous? These are virtues Jesus calls us to, yet we struggle to see them in our lives. It makes me wonder if I’ll ever experience the kingdom of heaven. But, I’m inspired by this little human displaying Jesus and kingdom life as I hold him in my arms.

I hope I never stop learning from Wesley. There will be challenging days ahead. Yet, God in his great love and mercy will direct our ways together…as long as I am open to that direction.

I’d appreciate your prayers for God’s mercy as our family continues to care for Wesley and learn from him.

Dr. K/Keith