The Boatright Circus

Your Subtitle text

When I was a small child I remember asking my mother where my name came from, since "Clay" is not a family name.  She told me that right before I was born, while they were taking her to the delivery room, a bible verse came to her.  It was the passage where Jesus spit on the ground, formed the clay, and placed it on the eyes of the blind man.  I would think about that periodically, but it didn't mean much to me at the time, and it eventually moved into my subconscious memory.

Move the calendar forward a few decades.  Carole and I were blessed with three beautiful daughters. Blaire is our traditionally developing child, while Paige and Mia have severe autism and other developmental disabilities.


On a Friday evening in late 2004, our family was having an extremely rough night.  The twins would not go to sleep, Blaire was crying, Carole was upset, and I was mad at God.  I remember asking Him before I went to sleep, “Why did you do this to Paige and Mia, and why did you do this to me?”  I had that question on my mind as I drifted off.


When I go to sleep mad, I always wake up madder than the night before.  It’s like the emotions marinade overnight.  That Saturday morning, however, was different.  I woke up as though I was outside on a bright spring day, with a cool refreshing breeze blowing over me.  My first conscience thought was, “To help people like Paige and Mia,” which I immediately interpreted as "To help people with severe disabilities."  Given the total peace I had at that moment, there is no doubt in my mind that the Holy Spirit had literally answered my question.  Knowing my perspectives and life priorities at that time, there is also no way I would have created that answer on my own.

A few months later, Chuck Swindoll at Stonebriar Community Church offered a sermon on special needs families.  As part of the discussion, he described John 9:1-3, a passage I have since adopted as my own:

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

I was immediately struck with the importance of that last line, verse 3.  First, disabilities are not punishment from God.  Second, the key elements in our life are planned for a specific purpose by God himself, who doesn’t make mistakes.  And third, the power of God can be manifested in each one of us, regardless of our capabilities.


A few weeks after "discovering" this verse, I decided to memorize it. Though I usually read the NIV version of the bible, that day I pulled the Revised Standard edition off the bookshelf, the version Mom had used when I was young.  After reading the passage and starting to close the bible, my eyes drifted from verse 3 to verse 6.  When they did, a cold chill went down my back, the hairs on my neck literally stood on end, and my breath left my body.  Verse 6 in the Revised Standard reads: "As (Jesus) said this, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man's eyes with the clay..."


At that moment I realized my God-given passion to help other families with special needs.  It cannot be mere coincidence that a bible passage, which came to my mother 40 years earlier, would eventually become the motivation for my life.  I believe it shows that God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can use each of us at any time.