Monday, May 30, 2011

The Difficult Gospel

In the previous post my wife told the story of what happened when she tried to take Bella out for dinner the other day. (I was in a different city doing a wedding for one of my Sailors). This post is about Annie and I struggling through how to react to someone like that.
A few verses.....
John 15:20 "...if they persecuted me, they will also persecute you."
Luke 9:23-24 "And he said to all, "if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."
Romans 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes..."
Phil. 1:21 "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain."

I start this blog with these verses because Annie and I are seeking to have a gospel mindset and heart when it comes to dealing with people like Annie came into contact with the other night. The process of dealing with Bella's autism has been an up and down affair. When I first got back from the deployment I had a time of mourning for the future that I thought Bella would have and in my mind that I thought was lost for Bella. Then I was (still am) motivated to get Bella through this. Get her the therapy, get her the education, and one day get her off of the Autism spectrum. Then Annie and I began to feel the reality that Bella and her autism was God's doing (or allowing, or planning, or ordaining, or sovereignly overseeing....however you want to put it). In John 9 Jesus passes by a blind man, and Jesus' disciples asked him who sinned that this man would be born blind (did he sin, or did his parents sin), but Jesus said neither, but that it was God's doing so that His glory and His works might be displayed.
Annie and I believe with all our hearts that God has given Bella autism so that His glory might be displayed, specifically in and through the gospel. The hope is that as people see the pain and hardship that accompanies having a child with autism, they will see Annie and I leaning upon Christ in order to find relief, joy, fullness and the words of the gospel that we speak to them will become alive, through the Holy Spirit. So no longer is it just the words of Jesus' suffering, but they see those sufferings as real in and through our suffering. No longer is it just words of forgiveness and fullness, but it is life reality of forgiveness and fullness.
No that all sounds great BUT IT IS HARD TO DO!!!!!! When Annie called me sobbing on the phone struggling to tell me about what happened, my first thought was "I could reconsider my policy on not hitting old people." But then the gospel started to creep into my heart. It's not a cliche (we turn the other cheek because that is what we've been taught, but I really want to kill them) it is the truth that if not for the gospel and the changing of my heart by God, Annie and I would be in the same place. Granted we might not be making fun of children with disabilities, but we would be just as evil. I can't speak for Annie but I would be the most arrogant, self-loving, SOB and that is no better than the people in the pizza place. If not for the gospel so go Annie and I. My heart wants to feel disdain and hatred for those people, but the gospel speaks louder and says if not for the grace of God you would be the same way. Eph. 2 is amazing, verse 1 - 3 describe how sinful we all are as a human race and how we have rebelled against God. Then in verse 4 the most amazing word in the Bible appears "BUT" yes but, "but God being rich in mercy and because of His great love towards us made us alive in Christ. For grace we have been saved."
Annie and I would love to be able to show the reality of the gospel to people in easy situations with Bella, but that isn't reality. We will show the reality of the gospel in the face of mean spirited, hateful comments and actions, by loving those people with the same love that God has shown to us through the cross.
Please pray for us as we try to do this. Asking always that God might be glorified in our lives and in the life of our little Bella, even in her autism.

God Bless
Josh Earls


  1. Josh - sending my prayers and respect your way. Thanks for being honest as it's truly a testimony of God's grace in your life. Thanks for being the sinner in the back rather than the Pharisee in the front - may God bless you daily in your constant surrender to Him.

    I know I will think of this story and your reaction when my time comes to decide to turn the other cheek and I pray that God will enable me to remember the grace that has been extended to me.

    Love and hugs to all!

  2. Do you have your daughter enrolled in EFMP? I ask only bc I just had a brief on this. I did not previously know all the benefits or that it's actually mandatory. From one Navy chap to another.

  3. Josh, I will pray for you and Annie to continually be filled with the Spirit of GOD to over flowing because we know that there are others just like them everywhere.

    Pastor Mike wants the words, "But GOD", on his tombstone. I love that. It is always but God since if left to our own we would say the same things.

    Congrats on the Marines and going to Cali. I may not see you all again on this side of heaven but please know I will always pray, cherish and be thankful for you all. Thanks especially for looking after Danny!!