If you are a music
lover, perhaps you’ve heard of the virtuoso violinist Itzhak Perlman. Polio stole the strength of
Perlman’s legs, requiring him to use steel braces and crutches to walk. When he solos with an
orchestra, he must clang and slide and awkwardly walk across the front of the stage with his
disability on full display.
Then, Perlman begins to play his violin. When he plays, there is nothing limiting or awkward about
the music. It is splendid! A promotional poster for the artist once read: “Now, let’s see what
Have you spent too many years focusing on what’s broken — either in you or your children —
instead of what works? Children with special needs face many barriers and they certainly need our
encouragement, but they also have a tremendous capacity when it comes to trusting God. Their faith
Debbie Salter Goodwin says helping her daughter Lisa have a personal relationship with her Creator
was her No. 1 priority.
“I always tried to help Lisa understand that God would speak to her directly. I didn’t want her to
confuse my voice and God’s voice. Nor did I want her to believe that God would speak to her only
through another person. I regularly nurtured the idea that if she listened and learned how God spoke
to her, she would never be alone.”
When she and her husband realized that Lisa’s challenges were going to be lifelong, they vowed to
pray for her spiritual health first and foremost, even before physical healing.
“God answered our prayers over and over again,” Debbie recalls. Lisa’s heart failed her more than
once, she says, but it was as whole as it needed to be for her to follow God.
A loving heart
“I will never forget a conversation we had where I was trying to affirm Lisa for using God’s gift of
compassion to reach out to people who were surprised by her sensitivity. I was trying to tell her
that God was using her in spite of her limitations. Her reply stunned me:
” ‘But Mom, my heart isn’t disabled.’ ”
It was truth, clear and unadorned.
This same girl, who always fell below the norm on reading
comprehension tests, could read God’s Word and share insights that defied every IQ test. When Lisa’s
physical health failed in 2016, her spirit went home to be with the God she loved and served.
But Lisa was right about what worked. Her heart was not disabled.