In typical American life, some people win and others lose. Some people get the award and others get no recognition. Some people are considered better than others. It’s not that way at Hope Heals Camp. On the first night of camp, we all streamed into the chapel to watch the annual talent show.
The lineup included hula hooping, singing, dancing, martial arts, piano playing, and more. All of the participants had either an intellectual or physical disability, or both.
What struck me about this evening’s show was the way that the crowd both anticipated and responded to each act. With genuine enthusiasm and delight, we cheered and encouraged each performance. The energy was electric and contagious. The most enthusiastic and sincere excitement came from a crew of middle school boys.
Kids who usually don’t get to perform were lifted up and exalted by this crowd of people. But this wasn’t a situation in which we elevated the people who often get overlooked, and the rest of us were denigrated. In honoring the most vulnerable among us, we all were lifted up. We all were exalted.
When Jesus talks about the kingdom of heaven, this is what he says it will look like. “Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). The problem comes when we try to exalt ourselves. The way we do that as humans is by putting others below us. When we lift ourselves up, we inevitably push others down.
Penny closed out the talent show with part of her jazz dance from this year’s spring fest. Again, she was lifted up. And so was every person in that crowd. When we lift one another up, and when we allow God to lift us up, we all are exalted.
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