Preaching in the Valley

August 22, 2013

Parenting Series - Preaching in the Valley

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Todd Hardin

Parenting Series - Preaching in the Valley

BCC Staff Note: You’re reading Part Four in a four-part BCC Grace & Truth blog mini-series on biblical parenting. In addition to today’s post by Todd Hardin, you can read Part One by Keri Seavey: The Down-to-Earth Gospel for Parenting, Part Two by Nicolas Ellen: Things to Consider in Parenting, and Part Three by Sherry Allchin: Be the Parent.

Todd & Fletcher HardinSince this is my contribution to a series of articles on parenting, I thought that I would share a page out of my personal life as a Dad of two boys. In their own unique ways, both of these young men have blessed me beyond measure. While both of my children are special to me, in this article I will speak specifically about an experience that my bride Brenda and I had with our youngest son Fletcher. Fletcher is a special child. He has severe autism, mental retardation, is not potty trained or verbal, and will always live with us. It is my prayer that every parent reading this article, regardless of their family situation, will find hope in Christ as they experience how God has used Fletch to shape me as both a father and a Christ follower.

That said, I must admit that in our journey with autism, we are continually amazed at the ways God uses our son Fletcher to preach His word. Our last worship service took place at our local children’s hospital where Brenda and I took Fletcher for an EEG. Before explaining Fletcher’s sermon, I will briefly explain our reason for the visit.

In addition to his autism, Fletcher also struggles with epilepsy. The epilepsy surfaced a couple of years ago when Fletcher experienced a seizure at school that resulted in a trip to the emergency room. A few days later, Fletcher had another seizure and the doctors decided to place him on anti-seizure medication. Since Fletcher is a growing boy, the doctors want to monitor the efficacy of his medicine that can only be accomplished through an EEG.

We arrived at the hospital at 6:30 a.m. and Fletcher’s pensive body language signaled that he had remembered his last trip to the facility. Fletcher’s anxiety initially emerged when the admissions person attempted to place the identification bracelet on his wrist. When the lady produced the bracelet, Fletcher buried his face in my side and hugged me like a desperate man hugs a tree in a tornado. The closer the lady came, the tighter Fletcher clung to his “Dada.” In fear, Fletcher took his refuge in his father.

During that moment, Fletcher embodied Psalm 56:3 which states, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (ESV). Of course, at the time, I was more concerned with what I would need to do if his test brought disappointing results. How would I be strong for Brenda? What would be our next step in getting Fletch the help he needed? Instead of clinging to Christ, I was contemplating my possible courses of action. Fletcher and I clung desperately to the same person: ME!

It was only after the doctor explained the results of the test to Brenda that I had time to relax and reflect on the day’s events. Fletcher did instinctively what three seminary degrees and a decade of pastoral ministry has still not taught me. When he experienced fear, he clung to his father. As I walk with this red headed speechless preacher through the Valley of Autism, I am amazed at how God uses him to preach His Word to me. Hopefully, one day, I will learn to listen.[1]


[1] This article is an adaptation from a previous post accessed here.