We found ourselves at one of those moments when the choices and the possibilities, the regrets and the hopes seemed about to overwhelm us. What more could we do for our son with autism? What should we do differently? What might the future hold?
Then to alleviate my wife’s concern I inserted this statement into the conversation: “Don’t worry. He’s going to live a good life.”
Days later, I couldn’t shake the statement from my consciousness. It troubled me. What did I mean by “a good life?”
I knew what I meant. A normal life. A neuro-typical life. I meant that one day Jude will carry on conversations, one day he’ll graduate college and have a calling, one day he’ll marry and have children. That’s what I meant when I said “a good life.” But is that how we should measure the quality of a life? Is a life “good” due to its proximity to a neuro-typical life?
My definition of a good life arose from a lie, and this lie blinded me to reality. I was seeing life through the same Satanic lens as the Christian parents who warn their daughter not to throw away her talents by becoming a missionary, or the trained professional who looks down his nose at the immigrant hired to clean his offices. I needed to align myself with the truth, the world as God sees it.
In Colossians 2, Paul warns the church at Colossae not to measure the value of their life on the basis of human standards. False teachers had declared that a good life was characterized by meeting legalistic human standards. Wishing to liberate the Colossians from this lie, Paul writes, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col 3:3-4 ESV).
To God, the good life is a life that has been killed with Christ on the cross, raised to everlasting life from the tomb, and hidden with Christ at the right hand of God. The beauty of such a life may not always be evident in this age. Such a life may not meet the external standards placed on it by human judges. But when Christ appears, the glory of that life will appear with Christ.
An unmarried life or uneducated life can be such a life. Even a nonverbal life can be a good life by the grace of God.