It was the summer of 2012. We were at a place of complete surrender, walking it out with all the poise of a newborn deer. I looked at Brian, as I had done (and would do) many times, and said with pleading eyes “I know this is going to sound completely crazy… but I think we have to do this”. And – bless him – he thoughtfully considered what I shared as if there was no great cost assigned to it.
As if our “adventures” to that point had not convinced everyone we were completely crazy, there we were, in the middle of an adoption process when we announced that we would be flying a teenage girl – an orphan – that we knew nothing about to live with us for 7 weeks that summer. Some would say we were reckless and I would have sided with you many days since then- but we were reading our Bible and going about life as if God meant for us to actually do the things in there. The audacity.
The summer was great, but HARD. It was eye-opening, life-changing, and it left us with so many questions. That teenage girl left, but we never went “back to normal”.
In the three years since then, life has been a whirlwind for sure. We added two children to the family. A now 3 year old son by adoption, then a (homegrown) baby girl, bringing us to a grand total of 6. And yet our names still lingered on that adoption wait list, though most of you never knew that. We eventually pulled out because of concerns we had about the program, and I was hurt and left with a bitter taste in my mouth. Meanwhile, life dealt other blows of its own. We walked, as best as we knew how, with people we loved as they struggled in significant ways. Oh, overall there was so much joy and so many mountaintop moments, but there was also a growing cynicism about some things deep, deep down. I didn’t really know it was happening.
So often I thought back on our hosting experience (among other things) and wondered if the critics had been right. Had we been too reckless? Had we made things worse instead of better; hosting a child we knew we would not be able to adopt? There were actually a lot things we had attempted “for God” in the last few years… things we thought He wanted us to do…. and when they didn’t turn out the way I thought they would I had let negative thoughts creep in.
“Do you even know God’s voice? Maybe you made that up”
“You should just calm down. Be like everyone else. Raise your kids, pin pins on Pinterest and stop attempting risky things.”
That girl I was three years ago, so full of trust and passion, got a few scrapes and a little dirt on her face and wanted to sit down and lick her wounds rather than press on and do hard things.
Have you ever felt that way?
Just as you think you are becoming all that God called you to be – you bump into that glass wall. Oh, you aren’t sure what it is that stops you, but inevitably it always does. you always lose courage and give into __________. Maybe its fear. Maybe insecurity. Maybe its the cost.
It is risky: this whole “surrender every area of your life completely” business.
The world screams “let’s be reasonable here”! It treats God like an accessory to a nice life. A spouse, kids, a house, a good job, a pet … “oh yes, you’ll need a little Jesus, too”.
I beg you not to buy that.
I accidentally believed them when they said I should “calm down”. So I studied my Bible and I prayed often for God to set my heart on fire for Him, but I lost all my confidence because I forgot that my confidence wasn’t in me, it was in Him.
Then today happened.
That sweet girl, Vika, stood before a judge with a couple from the United States. After 366 days of a long, bumpy (and costly and risky, by the way) journey, they legally became a family. And her mother doesn’t realize how her words to me later stopped me in my tracks.
She thanked me and claimed that somehow we were a part of her daughter’s journey to her. Oh, she had done that before. But today it was written under a perfect snapshot and the two of them together, smiling. When I had traded in my fears and worldly logic in favor of following Him out of my comfort zone, He had always given me a front row seat to see Him do things only He could do; and I had always been left in awe of Him. As I stared at that photo tears of gratitude and joy burned my eyes and spilled down onto my lap.
And it was as if everything grew silent and I could feel God asking.
Have you lost your awe and wonder? Did you doubt when my timing wasn’t like yours?
Oh my. Had I? When did this happen? Had I become cynical? Had I watched too much of the evening news, read too many articles, and taken to heart too much of the messiness of life?
Had I put a period where God had simply put a comma?
When we put a period where God puts a comma, we see the messy middle and are tempted to think that it is hopeless.
But Hope is a Person- the Person of Jesus. So nothing is ever really hopeless as long as Jesus lives.
I put a period before God was done with the story. It caused me to lose my confidence and cower so many times I could have been courageous instead. Like Peter, I took my eyes off of Jesus and started to sink. Oh, don’t worry. Even when my walk has all the poise of a newborn deer, it only matters that He walks with me. He says its about relationship, not my performance.
But I am praying I never lose my awe and wonder again. Perhaps the biggest risk is to never risk anything for the Kingdom. I’d rather stand in awe of Him now than stand in awe later of all the times He was right there, inviting me to join Him in His work and I missed it. Maybe the biggest risk is to go through our lives busy and distracted until we haven’t got any days left.
I say we risk it all and run the race set before us.
Just don’t trip on the commas.
“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29