But God Still Sings Over Me
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But God Still Sings Over Me

(Note from Tait: This is the manuscript for a keynote address I gave at the online Wonderfully Made Conference in October, 2001. As a part of my agreement with SOUR, I cannot release the full video until fall 2022. However, I can publish the first ten minutes. I do it. To show my speaking style.

I have become good friends with the people at SOUR and look forward to our partnership together in the years to come. SOAR Special Needs is transforming the lives of special families by empowering them to SOAR in their local and faith communities. You can learn more about SOAR’s work with families and churches at www.SOARSpecialNeeds.org. You can also check out the Wonderfully Made Conference at www.WonderfullyMadeKC.com.)

 

To see ten minutes of my keynote, click here. https://youtu.be/xFUo80IjJzg


The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing .

Zephaniah 3:17

Hello. My name is Tait. I am 48 years old and a native of Colorado. I was born with cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair. My speech is hard to understand, but you’ll catch on as we spend this time together.

I grew up outside of Colorado Springs in a community called Black Forest. My two brothers and I had a typical childhood, and our parents gave us a good home. I loved cheering at my brothers’ sporting events, and they spent plenty of their time with me at doctor and therapy appointments. Trust me, we had our share of moments, but it was mostly good.

I attended public schools and was fully integrated into regular classes in 2nd grade. Graduated on time with my class. I loved school, but I  fooled a lot of my teachers. I looked like I needed to be in remedial classes yet I could understand and grasp almost everything if given a chance…except science. I still don’t understand how a tiny cell can have all those parts in it.

My interests have always been English, History, Political Science, and Theology. I was fascinated with stories of the past, or the news, or the weekly

TRE – Positive Exposure 2016. Photo by Jeff Kearney.

sermon at church. Asked my parents a million questions or wrote stories about what I was learning. I was on my high school and college yearbook and newspaper staffs and had a summer job at the Air Force base’s newspaper. Got my first degree in journalism. I have written four books and hundreds of articles.

By far, my favorite subject to write and talk about is my faith and theology. I published my fourth book earlier this year. It is called My Name is Tait. I write about my experiences with cerebral palsy as I live my life. My life is not special. It’s just different, and I want my readers to understand that you can thrive even though you have a disability.

The stories in the book are designed to encourage young people, their parents, and teachers in their pursuit of independence. I write about my family, education, and falling in love. Even with a disability, people can have an awesome life. I don’t sugarcoat it. Independent living is hard work. But it’s achievable if you really want it.

One thing you need to know about me is that I do anything to reach my goals. I don’t say that out of some kind of “get out of my way. I’m doing this at all costs.” kind of attitude, although I’m sure I’ve done things from that perspective. No, if someone tells me I can’t do something, I say, “step out of my way and watch.” I challenge myself daily to try something new.

I think the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to deal with is depression. I have struggled with depression since childhood. I can deal with not walking, being misunderstood,  but depression puts me in a dark hole. It runs in my family.

One time, in middle school, I was having such a rough day that my mom picked me up and took me home. I felt like I was in trouble, but Mom and my teacher were so gentle with me. They just wanted me to rest, and mom made my afternoon at home quiet and refreshing. I appreciated that.

When I was in my twenties and thirties, depression episodes seemed to come on me at least once a year. Sometimes I could identify the cause, such as the time when my first service dog was retired, but other times depression just came. For about ten years I could schedule it…I knew it that well. Sadness would just knock on my door, and I’d have problems eating, sleeping,  and getting through a day for a couple of weeks. I describe depression as one of those dog bones that is hollow on the inside.

I would wonder where God was and how HE was working in my life. Those were some dark times.

February 8, 2009: I went to church that Sunday. I didn’t want to. I had attempted a suicide five days ago because I had broken off an engagement with my girlfriend. I went to the hospital by ambulance and spent two days under watch. I felt embarrassed and broken. Church was still important to me so I dragged myself to the service with all my junk.

The Scripture reading for that day was Zephaniah 3:17:

The LORD your God is with you,

the Mighty Warrior who saves.

He will take great delight in you;

in his love he will no longer rebuke you,

but will rejoice over you with singing.

I sat there speechless. You. mean. God. is. with me? And he saves me? Not only that, but he delights in me and loves me? That’s not all. It says that God rejoices over me, and here’s the drop the mic moment….God sings over me!

WOW!!!

I was fascinated with this that morning, and it helped me not only get out of my funk that day, but has become a guidepost I use to keep me on the right path. Depression still gets me down, but my unwanted friend rarely comes these days. I often wonder why. Was it a phase in my twenties and thirties? I never have gotten an answer to this question.

Allow me to encourage you this morning by looking at each section of this amazing verse and see what it teaches us.

The LORD your God is with you,

Pretty straight forward, right? But don’t we all forget from time to time, even without a disability! I know my life can get clogged down with STUFF —- disability related or not — and pretty soon I look around and say, “God, where are you?” Scripture says time after time that God is here. Right now. In this place. In your situation.

The Mighty Warrior who saves.

We all know that Jesus saves. Ok. Got it. No, the words that stand out here are Mighty Warrior. Have you ever thought of God as your Mighty Warrior? The one who fights for you?

Disability is a daily battle. We battle our thoughts, doctors, therapists, social workers.  CHURCHES! (Thought I’d throw that one in!) Caregivers are tired and burned out. We, the ones who have the disability, wonder who is fighting for us?

But in the middle of this battle, this thing we call living with a disability, the Lord fights for us. This is not David with some stones, although that image is appropriate for disability ministry. No, this is the Lord doing the fighting. In battle like one of those war movies. Luke and Darth Vader with their lightsabers kind of thing. God is battling our depression, that pastor who doesn’t get it, all those negative thoughts we all have…The Mighty Warrior is battling and victory is coming!

He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you,

Have you ever thought of the Lord being happy with you. Looking at you and saying, “Man! I do great work.” We spend lots of time in disability ministry teaching about image…that we are created in God’s image. Well, that’s no theological point, you know. God actually delights in you. As I like to say, IF IT’S IN THE BIBLE, IT MUST BE TRUE!

Last, but not least, the cherry on top: God will rejoice over you with singing.

Have you ever thought of the Lord singing over you? Humming a song in your honor? What tune do you hear? Listen.

🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶🎶

Disability is rough. All these meetings, IEPs, equipment, Medical insurance stuff….the list goes on and on. It’s a full time job just to keep up with these things. And this doesn’t include taking care of the disability itself!

A couple of months ago, my wheelchair went down. I was getting back into it, and reclined all the back when the chair’s power went out. Dead as a doornail. Couldn’t move. My friend called the place that fixes my chair. The person who answered the phone said she could have someone come out the following week.

Next week? I’m stuck NOW! Doesn’t she understand that when my wheelchair is down, I’m down? This is an EMERGENCY! Eventually, we got to the right person who sent out someone to get me up and running. We had a long talk with the company about when a wheelchair goes down, it’s an emergency and we wheelchair users cannot wait for a week.

But God sang over me that day. I was home. I could have been out on a sidewalk. My friend was still in the house. She could have left and I would have been stuck for a few hours until my wife got home…. We were able to order lunch and hang out until the repairman came.

But God.

Don’t you just love this? It’s all over the Bible, you know. Joseph was sold into slavery and put in jail.  But God… David’s life was threatened hundreds of times. But God…  Saul thought these Christians were crazy and gathered them up. But God….The Roman and Jewish Leaders were convinced that life would get back to normal once this Jesus fellow was hung on a cross and placed in a Tomb with a big stone with a slew of solders guarding it. BUT GOD!

But God. Hmmm…

I live with cerebral palsy…

I use a wheelchair…

I live with depression…

BUT GOD!

What is the BUT GOD in your life? What tune is the Lord humming  over you?

One of the places where I hear that tune is at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, just outside of Denver. It’s the most beautiful place to hear music. Everyone has to go to at least one concert at Red Rocks especially if you believe in Jesus.

Worshiping with 20,000 of your closest friends…man, there’s nothing like it. This is a picture of my first concert at Red Rocks.

My wife and I went to a concert there this past summer. I felt that I was getting overwhelmed…finishing this talk and getting ready to start seminary this fall was just some of the reasons. I wondered if my  uninvited depression friend was coming for a visit.

I was looking forward to going back to Red Rocks to let the Lord work His stuff. But I also knew that if I tried to force worship and something that was not really genuine… beginning of a depressive episode could become bigger.

First set of the evening. First artist. As soon as the notes to the first song floated to my ears, I knew that evening that I would be refreshed and prepared for my next battle when I listen to the music. I just sat at Red Rocks that evening taking it all in. I let the Lord sing over me. Once I got my tank filled, I got back on the battlefield watching my MIGHTY WARRIOR fight for me!

So let me leave you with Zephaniah 3:17 as a blessing

The LORD your God is with you,

the Mighty Warrior who saves.

He will take great delight in you;

in his love he will no longer rebuke you,

but will rejoice over you with singing.

Amen.

 

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