How does one go about the retelling of God’s providence?
Let me start by saying that our testimony is often what God gives us to build a bridge to relationship. It is what it is because God gives it value. Whether great or tragic, poignant or endearing, He can take even what little we have (a few loaves and a fishes) and feed many with it. I hope that each of us learns the significance of our story and that we will open our hands and let the seeds of our story fall where they may.
If someone had told me 2 years ago that we would be adopting, I would have laughed in their face while ‘playfully’ punching them in a non-threatening way and at the same time imagined some kungfu –ninja move that temporarily stunned the question right out of them. If they had told Rob that same thing he would have laughed and told them originally we agreed we stick with 2 (he may have it in writing!) children.
I remember well the path the Lord led me on to prepare my heart. He began small…watching TV and commenting (while crying) on an adoptive family with 2 special needs children and admitting I was too selfish in my comfortable life to be like that family. A mere week later, sobbing as I watched another episode of Extreme Home Makeover and marveling at the love of a family that had opened their tiny home to foster kids. At the same time realizing I was selfishly ‘attached’ to my ideas of what life would be like when we reached the empty-nest phase (I’m a planner, ok a pre-planner).
The not so small ways…still very vivid, like the moment at a ladies conference when my heart broke for those children tossed aside, left in doorways, or buried alive because they were not the right gender. My heart broke for my own pride and self-preservation. I argued with the Lord and held passionately to my ‘plans’. As I cried, I told the Lord it was “easy for her (the speaker) to preach but what is SHE doing to help to change?” And in answer, she shared with us how her family needed prayer while they continued the process of adopting two children from Africa.
And the Lord just continued to whisper, but with more passion than I ever had, and revealed to me His heart, broken, for the lost and forgotten. I was completely and utterly undone, my pride had vanished and I knew I was naked before the Lord, humbled. Only once in my life have I been at this place, so broken, so sure, and so overwhelmed by His presence…the day I gave Him Kingship of my life. It changed me; it was no longer enough to write a check or share my discards or support a child in another country. He was calling me to put hands and feet to my faith. In one particularly gut-wrenching moment the speaker said “All the other moments (of your faith) prepare you for the moment of crisis”. This for me was that moment…would I chose my life over His? My comfort over His commission? My security over His sufficiency?
I can’t tell you how afraid I was…I can tell you that I KNEW it would be hard.
When I told my family that I felt the Lord was telling us to adopt, I was amazed by their positive reactions. My oldest, in black-and-white fashion, said “mom, what child wouldn’t be blessed to be part of our family?” I remember I was so humbled in that moment, not because we were great parents and my oldest child was acknowledging that (although we are -we let our children play with knives, eat in front of the T.V, and sleep in our room way too often), but because the Lord had done so much in our broken little family, He was the key. The Lord had opened a door and we were walking through it, together.
I wish I could say that I went joyfully and with much enthusiasm after what He had told us to do. But I hid, busied myself in other things, tested and even passed the buck a few time. It was exhausting, and when I couldn’t run from Him anymore, I decided to run to Him instead. So I went away to seek and to pray and for 3 days, alone in the country, we wrestled. I read, I cried, I fasted, I prayed alone, I prayed with council, I had tea with missionaries, I yelled, I danced, I sang, I even had a picnic with the Lord. It was a time like I have never experienced before or since, nothing but He and I. Looking back now I see how He was preparing my heart, binding up old wounds, setting my free, showing me truth…preparing me for the valley.
Loved one, sometimes God’s purpose will trump our comfort.
Prior to this point in my walk, I was fairly content in my faith, but now I was challenged, totally ‘undone’. I struggled with the simplest verses. He said “Take my Yoke for my burden is easy and my Yoke is light.” What did His yoke look like? If Christ was my rabbi and I was to become His disciple, His image bearer, what did He say I was to be…to look like? I’m not talking religion, not an affiliation or a club…what did HE say!
I knew as I went into this time that I was to drink in the Word, thirstily! That it was called the ‘living Word’, as active and powerful today as yesterday. I knew according to His word that if I seek, I will find, if I ask, He will answer. I was committed to reading about Christ over and over until I truly understood who He was.
Wow! It wasn’t a lecture we had but a conversation!
I asked the Holy Spirit to reveal in His word to me, the knowledge of the truth of His Word. I started with Matthew and barely made it through Luke, where I stopped and read, and re-read it, ate it…choked on it. I struggled with my flesh and my sense of entitlement, my belief that He wanted to bless me at the expense of the impoverished! The truth of the Word consumed years of doctrine for me, it refined and purified it down to this simple truth…if I was to be like Him, I was to go where He went.
It was as if He was saying to me:
“Come and find me”
“But where Lord?”
He answered, “the last will be first. Matthew 20:16”
“I am close to the brokenhearted. Psa 34:18”
“Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me. Matthew 25:40”
“Religion that God the father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after the orphans and widows... James 1:27”
“For whoever welcomes the little child in my name welcomes me…Luke 9:48”.
These verses resonated with me and this one most of all: “Unless the fruit falls from the tree (death to self) it will not propagate”.
Death to me meant I live a sacrificial life, for Him. He lived serving and saving the lost.
We don’t choose the parts of Christ we want to imitate, we go where He went, do as He did. We stop feeling comfortable stuffing ourselves at the table with the Pharisees and start looking like brothers and sisters of the poor, homeless, widows and orphans. Since they don’t show up in my pew on Sundays, that meant I must go to them, or even bring them to me.
In order to save my life, I must lose it. It was never mine anyways.
During these 3 days I filled an entire journal with what the Spirit was teaching me. One writer that spoke so profoundly to me wrote:
We have this idea that God is going to do some exceptional thing; that He is preparing us for some extra ordinary thing, by and by, but as we go on in grace we find that the Lord is glorifying Himself here and now in this present minute.
If we have God’s say so behind us, the most amazing strength comes, and we learn to sing in the ordinary days and ways.
I had to stop waiting for the exceptional. He was saying “No point looking back old girl, you may not be able to see over that hill, but that’s where we are going!” I knew that I could not, that we, together, were not able; that only God could provide, strengthen and equip us for the journey ahead. In reality, raising another child, finding $25K to do that, and committing to parent that child, (through the Lord only knows what), was/is impossible. It’s a good thing He’s a God of miracles and we have seen so many in Jia’s (Judah’s) story.
As I read through the gospels, especially Luke, in those moments, the word became active and breathing. Truly God breathed, Holy Spirit inspired, and alive! This time the same passages I had read a million times where different, (really I was different). We are His body, His hands and feet and each time I “do unto the least of these” I do UNTO Him! I get the privilege of encountering, looking face-to-face and touching Jesus each time I look into the face of the homeless, widow and soon, even my orphan son.
Whatever you do – if you have naught; love!
I can do that!
I could share with you story after story of confirmation after confirmation. How the Lord brought us face to face with a need that we could fill. How He made a way despite my medical history, how he provided at each step just what we needed and how He has forever changed us as a family. I could, but instead, if you would indulge me just once more, I encourage you to watch this video.
We invite you to join us in bringing Jia (Judah) home. There are so many needs and we know the Lord will provide.
I commit my ways to you Lord; I trust in You and You will do this: You will make my righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of my cause like noonday sun.
Loved one, “May the Word of God be like honey on your tongue”. There is nothing better, it is the sweetest thing!