What if we could cause a shift in public policy this April by just remaining still? Sounds counter intuitive during a month full of bustling activity and autism awareness conversations, right?
April 2017 may have a unique opportunity where the mountains we face on a daily basis could fall.
What if members of our community that choose to stand in the gap for everyone would just be still and quiet themselves for three days? How might something so small change our circumstances from a public policy perspective?
Before we go any further, we know what you are thinking, “Be quiet? Are you kidding? It’s IEP season, Spring Break, Prom Season! Our home is never quiet if anyone is awake because we are busy people!”
But we don’t mean silence: we mean quieting your soul for just three days while you examine your heart, pray fervently and ask God to hear you.
Between noon on April 8th and noon on April 11th , Unlocking Autism is calling for God’s people in our community to be still. During this unique period of time connecting Palm Sunday, Passover and the fast of Esther, the windows of heaven are wide open. Each one of these stories demonstrate a common theme of God moving His people from personal reflection to hearts of obedience toward hope, freedom and redemption.
Let’s focus on the story of Queen Esther, who upon finding out that the Jews were to be annihilated by a decree of the King, called for her people to fast and pray for three days before she approached him to ask him to change his policy and save her people. She was really nervous about this request because it could easily have resulted in her death. So she asked her community to ask God for help first. She didn’t jump on this opportunity at first and gave her Uncle Mordecai some very seemingly valid excuses to be quiet and stay in her chambers.
Mordecai’s response to her was very stern in Esther 4:13-14:
“Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”
Mordecai points out this very specific moment in time was critical for the whole community and Queen Esther was perfectly positioned to change history. But Mordecai warns her, if she chooses to remain silent that God will find another willing person to bring relief and deliverance. He does this because when a person in position of authority does this, they bear the brunt of the outcome due to their failure to address the issue.
The particular word for silent in this passage does not mean to not talk, it means not to listen. It means you heard to the issue but gave tacit approval for it to continue by not listening to it and then speaking up. It has the same kind of meaning as someone who sticks their fingers in their ears during an argument and says, “LA LA LA LA LA LA I am not listening to you.”
For nearly two decades, Unlocking Autism has watched lawmakers, policy changers and even leaders and community members hear what is being said but not really listening to them.
But we know these things to be true:
In 2 Chronicles 7:13-15, God even gives us a clear recipe on how to change our circumstances: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.”
The thief comes to kill, steal and destroy but God will restore what the “locusts” have taken from us and requires the thief to pay back seven times what he has stolen, even if it costs him everything. Our enemy does that in several ways: by destroying our peace, our hope, our love for each other, our unity, our faith, and the truth. He chips away at it until we are worn out, weary, broken and fighting everything.
And it is up to us to choose which voice to listen to: the voice whispering lies, death and destruction or the small still voice that brings truth, hope and life.
Fasting gives us an opportunity to humble ourselves before God while asking forgiveness for our wrongs then presenting our requests to Him with clean hearts and pure hands. When we are still, does God fight for us – but our souls must be quiet to listen to what He has to say.
176 children are diagnosed with autism every single day in the United States alone. During the month of April, we will add 5,280 new families living with autism to our growing community. One moment of silence for each of these new additions would take 88 hours – which oddly enough is a little over 3 days.
We know it will be difficult for everyone to be completely quiet but here are ways you can participate – pick one that you can commit to:
- Carve out quiet space during these three days to read God’s word and pray.
- Don’t use social media, your phone or return emails (except for emergencies).
- Keep the television and electronics to a minimum.
- Don’t watch the news.
When you find that quiet space and peace, wherever it shows up during the day, pray.
- When you pray, pray in faith – even if you only have faith the size of a mustard seed.
- Pray that God will move our mountains collectively as a community, and move the individual mountains your family faces.
- Pray for restoration.
- Pray for healing in our community and our nation – spiritually and physically.
- Pray for God to move the hearts of our leaders at all levels to come into alignment with His will.
- PRAY BIG.
God tells us to be still and know that He is God. The word for still in this passage means abandoned, alone, helpless, collapsed, discouraged, dropped, a failure, feeble, forsaken, fallen, lazy, afraid, relaxed, waiting, slack and lifeless. We can be a total mess, give it to Him and He is still God. He is able to fix our situation then give us beauty for ashes, joy for mourning and praise for despair.
We have hope that our stillness before God will be heard, that He will help our leaders to speak and not remain silent. We believe that our hope will not be put to shame. God’s ways are not our ways and sometimes we have to do something different to bring the accelerated change we need.
Being still and praying for the next couple of days won’t hurt – and could change everything.