There are those times when, as humans, we're humbled by events that knock us flat on our faces. But then there are other times when, as Christians, we're humbled by God...who brings us down to our knees with displays of His great power. And right now, Josh and I are in the midst of one of the most humbling times we can remember ever having experienced in our 13 years of dating and marriage.
When we share with people the fact that we're adopting a baby, we're occasionally met with words that say "Good for you" but are matched with looks of "You've gotta be kidding me". It's hard for some to understand that this journey that we're on is about so much more than just adding another tiny tot to our crew. If we were only looking to grow our family, we could certainly do it in more time-efficient and economical ways (we did have three children in just over three years, mind you!).
But this is way bigger than that. It's bigger than having four children, and it's certainly bigger than Josh or Allison Lewis. It's about asking God to make Himself known to us -- and the heart He's revealed. It's about asking God what He wants our lives to look like -- and the path He's set forth.
And at the deepest core of the matter, it's about knowing what God says...and wanting to listen and act.
I still find it curious that so many people are put off by the fact that we would invest as much money as we have into adopting a baby. But to help explain, let me share with you a change that God has made in our hearts over the past year...
Now bear with me on this one, but I relate it all to being a personal shopper. (Seriously, don't check out...this is good!) If I'm a personal shopper, and a lady gives me $500 along with the task of buying her a new dress, new shoes, and a purse, you better believe that I'm going to do my very best to abide by her wishes (although I'm not sure Kohl's would have exactly what she's looking for!). My goal in that situation would be to spend the money in the way she asked. I wouldn't use her cash to bring back a bunch of stuff she didn't ask for. Or worse, I certainly wouldn't just keep her money for myself and come back with nothing at all to offer her.
Ridiculous scenario, huh?
We might think so, but we do the same thing every single day with what God has entrusted to us.
He blesses us with money and tells us to feed the hungry (Isaiah 58:7, Matt. 25:35-46) and to care for the poor (Exodus 23:11, Deut. 15:7-11, Prov. 14:31, Prov. 19:17, Prov. 21:13, Prov. 22:9, Prov. 28:27, Isaiah 58:7, Matt. 19:21) and the fatherless (Deut. 10:18, Deut. 24:19-21, Psalm 82:3, Isaiah 1:17, James 1:27). But time and time again, we take the blessings He's given us, and we use them only on ourselves. What do we have to offer God?
If you read those verses, you can see that God's pretty serious about wanting us to take care of those who are defenseless or in need. He didn't politely request it. He commanded it.
Now please hear me when I say that I'm not for one second insinuating that adoption is the way to go. Or that you have to adopt to display obedience to God. That's simply not true. But the fact of the matter is, God does tell us to take care of orphans. The beauty of it, though, is that obedience to that can take on countless different forms in believers' lives.
Which brings me to my whole point tonight.
While God has put it on our hearts to adopt, it's been nothing short of amazing to watch how He's led other people we know to do just as much to care for children who have no families...just in a different way. We know of people who sponsor children through Compassion International, others who donate their time (or even their lives!) to work with children who have been orphaned (remember this post?), some who are foster families, and others who sacrificially give to any or all of these causes.
Take for example our precious friends...let's call them Peter and Andrea. Shortly after we announced that we were adopting, Andrea showed up at our doorstep (from another city) with an envelope in her hand. She told me to wait until she had left to open it. Once she had gotten in her car to drive back to her home, I opened the envelope to find a note of Scripture and encouragement...and a check. Josh and I were shocked, thrilled, and intensely humbled at the Godly love this couple had shown us. I immediately called Andrea's cell phone to tell her that she and Peter had done so much already for us through their continual encouragement and prayers and that we couldn't accept such a gift as what they had done.
And what she said was dramatically heart-changing for me: "Allison, it wasn't ours to begin with."
She reminded me that everything we have comes from the Lord and that they were simply being obedient in the way God had led them to use their blessings to bless others. Months went by, and Peter and Andrea continued to remind us that they were praying for us with each step we took in our adoption. Then last week, another envelope arrived (minus Andrea this time), and...you guessed it. A check. Actually it was two checks! It was really late at night when I opened the mail from that day, so I popped off some rambling, babbling mess of an e-mail to Andrea that told her, once again, how thankful beyond words we were for the gift of their friendship and the many ways in which they were supporting us.
Her response? "It wasn't ours to begin with."
Lord, give me that kind of obedience and faith!!
Then another something happened tonight that nearly took my breath away. The kids and I had gone to take dinner to a friend who had had surgery earlier in the week, and when I arrived home, I was in a mad rush to get our dinner ready so that Josh could run in from work, eat really quickly, and then dash back out for class tonight. I had my blinders on, and I was oblivious to anything that didn't relate to my oven.
A few minutes later, Josh walked through the front door and said, "Allison..."
"Hold on, honey, I'll be there in a second," I responded.
He said my name again, this time with a little more urgency. As I walked toward him, he handed me this...
This note had been taped to our front door with a gift that, once again, brought us to our knees in thanksgiving to God. This last month was a doozy for us financially. Seminary tuition/books and large adoption-related expenses were, alone, enough to make our stomachs turn a bit. We kept crying out to God for provision (clinging to Matt. 6:26), and guess what? The gift of our dear, secret friends provided exactly what we needed to make ends meet this month.
They followed God's leading, and it's making a difference in our lives...as well as helping to radically change the life of a precious baby in Ethiopia with whom we're deeply in love.
That's what I call James 1:27 in action!!
So to Peter, Andrea, Sneaky McGee (you know who you are), and the many, many others who have prayed for, supported, and encouraged us, we love you dearly, and we're asking God to bless you many times over for the ways you have honored Him by loving us and our new baby.