Happy Elevated Friday! Today we highlight an incredible story of one young man using what many would consider a disability as a perfect gift from God. Tarik El-Abour is a baseball player – it is how he has defined the years of his life and has poured countless hours, untold amounts of sweat, and probably some blood and tears into along the way. He was just signed to a major league contract with the Kansas City Royals, a huge and rare accomplishment for any baseball player. What makes Tarik special though is that he is the first person with autism to be signed by an MLB team. For years, children and adults with autism have been seen as having a “disorder” or that “something was wrong with them” because they are different than a person without autism. Autism is a condition that affects the way a person’s brain operates which subsequently alters the path of that person’s life. Thus, it is true that life is different in some ways for those with autism. However with Tarik, autism has been the defining reason why he has succeeded! His mother said of Tarik, “[Watching him play baseball] is when I started to see the workings of the autistic mind. I started to see how numbers had a lot to do with how he thinks. Those of us without autism think in concepts, he thinks in numbers. The greater number of times he did anything, the better he was at it. Just like us. However, the way the numbers worked in his mind went way further than anything I could have yet imagined…He did not know yet how different he was. He did not know yet how autism was going to speak for him before he could speak for himself.” By looks of his success, Tarik’s autism has not been a disability, but a blessing from God.
As humans, we like to think we have things all figured out. Up is up, down is down, this is this and that is that. One of the most incredible things about our God is that only He can take something that for years everyone considered a disability, make it part of one of his creations, and have that person use exactly that thing to find success. In Isaiah 55, God reminds us that the way He operates is vastly above what we will ever understand and the means we use to find success are not the ways He does. He says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” When we trust that every piece of us is carefully hand-sculpted by God himself, we find the freedom to use every piece of us for His glory. Today, give thanks to God for every gift and seeming shortcoming, for it is when the two of them meet that we see God’s purpose for us.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV