Thursday, March 11, 2010

the winding road

for the last couple of months, we've been doing a chronological read-through of the bible as part of the radical experiment at church, and i've run the gamut of extremes in regards to my understanding (and sometimes enjoyment) of the scriptures i've read so far.  i've marveled at god's creation and power in the accounts contained in genesis, but i've trudged through the seemingly countless laws and regulations contained in leviticus.

and somewhere in the middle is the story of the israelites' journey to the land to which god both called and led them.

as i was rounding out the book of numbers a few nights ago, i was perplexed by the stages of israel's journey that are recorded in chapter 33.  far from the exciting and tense drama surrounding their safe deliverance through the red sea, this particular section just went on and on and on about all the places the israelites went through on their pilgrimage to the promised land.  not only was it terribly uninteresting, but i couldn't even pronounce 37 of the 40 locations listed.

but firmly believing that every word of scripture is inspired by the lord, i took a couple of minutes to dwell on moses' account of their journey as i tried to glean some sort of understanding about its purpose.  and what god put on my heart would prove to strike much closer to home than i would know a couple of short days later.

the israelites were standing at point a and the lord was calling them to point b.  the practical plan would have been for them to head on a straight path -- no detours, no delays -- toward their end goal.  but that's not how god moved them.  exodus 13:17-18 says that "god did not lead them on the road through the philistine country, though that was shorter.  ...god led the people around by the desert road toward the red sea."

really god??  the red sea? 

"for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the lord.  "as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."  isaiah 55:8-9

as i thought back over the path that the lord chose for the israelites, i could see that he used each step in mighty ways and for a glorious purpose.  in some places, he demonstrated great power and provision for his people (as when he parted the red sea or miraculously fed them with manna and quail).  in other places, he boldly called the fickle and wandering israelites back into his direction and will.  and then in other places, he drove them to their knees in complete dependence on his mercy, love, and guidance.

every step of the journey was for the lord's glory and for his people's good.

so why am i writing all this?  we got some disheartening news from our adoption agency yesterday regarding the process for bringing our little guy home.  as of this morning, the ethiopian courts ruled that rather than being able to sign power of attorney over to the agency to appear in court on their behalf, all adoptive parents must appear in court themselves from today on.  so the single trip we had planned and worked to prepare for financially has in one ruling turned into a two-trip process with much greater cost (and possibly additional time until everything is finalized).

i started writing a post earlier today, but as i read back through some of what i had shared, i realized two things: i was writing out of a heart of whiny-ness and i had yet to pray about any of what i was now posting on the internet for any and all to read.  so i took it upstairs and spent some time talking to the lord and asking him to give me patience, wisdom, and unfailing trust in him.  slowly and steadily, this is what he showed to me...

several years ago, josh and i were standing at point a and god was calling us to point b.  we knew he had put orphans and adoption on our hearts.  the practical plan would have been for us to head on a straight path -- no detours, no delays -- toward our end goal.  but that's not how god has moved us either. what was supposed to be a nine-month timeline has stretched into a sixteen-month timeline (and counting) with more twists and turns than we could have ever imagined possible.

really god??  sixteen months?  two trips to ethiopia?

"for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the lord.  "as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."  isaiah 55:8-9

now as i look back over the path that the lord has chosen for us, i can see many of the exact same patterns that i saw in reading about the israelites' journey out of egypt.  the lord has continually shown his power and provision for us through blessings from friends, family, our church, and our jobs -- or from unexpected events that still strike us with wonder and awe.  in other ways, he has boldly called us back into his direction and will when we have been fickle and have strayed.  and then at other times, he has driven us to our knees in complete dependence on his mercy, love, and guidance.  

that's where i found myself today.

i can't control this process.  i can't speed it up, and i can't bring our baby home faster.  but what i can do is trust in the lord's timing and ways and pray for his perfect plan to be done in our lives.

because if i know one thing, it's this: every step of this journey is for the lord's glory and for our good.

4 comments:

Lora Lynn @ Vitafamiliae said...

Ugh, I know what you mean. I heard about ET yesterday and I'm so sorry it affects you all. I've decided that all of us here in the 'Ham who are getting delayed are only getting delayed so we can all share a plane ride to Africa together. :-)

Hugs, friend.

Robin said...

thank you for sharing how the journey God has for you. your faithfulness is inspiring. i am still praying for you.

The Taylors said...

I love seeing God transform you more into the image of His Son through this entire process. Love you friend.

Julie Shaw said...

Very well said my friend!!