"why would god call you to adopt, particularly in a way that could prove to be so incredibly difficult for you and your family?"
the roots of the question ran deep and wrapped tightly around issues related to fear, financial pressures, racial concerns, and spiritual wrestling to name a few. i think i blubbered out something related to god's sovereignty, his movement in our lives, and the fact that he tells us in scripture that his ways are not our ways (read: "his calling just doesn't make sense by the world's standards sometimes"). yes, those things are right and true, but if i'm being honest, those were just rote answers that i had tucked away in my brain from lessons long ago.
the real answer lies in a story...
november 2008. a couple of eager 30-somethings sat on the couch in their living room and began talking seriously about what they had mulled over for years now. the house was quiet as their four-year-old, two-year-old, and 10-month-old slept soundly in their rooms upstairs. did it make sense to add yet another little person into their family of several already-present little people? and was adopting from africa seriously a good plan? many talks and countless prayers later, neither of them could shake what the holy spirit was speaking so plainly to their hearts.
adopt. from ethiopia.
january 2009. they filed the paperwork to begin the adoption process, and almost immediately they were met with what can only be accurately described as enormous hurdles. resistance, painful conversations, huge waves of expenses...and an accident that threw the husband of our little story into emergency surgery on the day their home study was to begin. two camps quickly emerged: the "see, if this were god's will for you, this would go a lot easier" side and the "trust, persevere, and rely even more on god" side.
and the eager 30-somethings? they sat timidly dead on the middle of the fence and prayed to confidently join the latter.
as time went by assurance grew, faith blossomed, and on july 30, 2010 the couple ecstatically celebrated the first tangible fruit of their journey: the birth of a new baby into their lives. but before the euphoria even had time to wane, a tsunami-sized wave crashed over their unsuspecting hearts. poverty, disease, and death claimed the earthly life of the baby they so desperately loved and wanted.
hours of heart-ripping-apart agony turned into long days of the same, which gradually transformed into an entirely different form of pain. he stayed strong, but she - that self-sufficient, got-it-all-together gal - began to unravel. oh, you didn't see it happening. nobody did. she became the master of carefully donning her mask of okay-ness each morning, only to throw it off each night as she tried to sleep. the vision of her baby's stiff, lifeless body haunted her dreams, and little by little, she slipped off into her own private world of unbearable pain, sin, and loneliness.
as she spent her days convincing her family and friends that she was doing just fine, another story was being written on the other side of the world. days after birth, a tiny baby was found on the corner of a dark street in ethiopia. no home, no family, not a thing to call his own. by the world's standards, he was a helpless mess and didn't have a thing to offer. he desperately needed someone to come save him. when the couple learned about him, it became their mission to give him a home, to give him love, and to give him life.
as these two stories collide, it brings us back to the question that started this whole thing: why would god call you to adopt in this way? my friends, after more ugliness and pain than i can express right now, i can tell you confidently that i now know the answer.
it's because adoption is god's specialty.
"god decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through jesus christ. this is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." ephesians 1:5 (NLT)
i am her. i'm the broken 30-something that lay a crumpled heap on the floor. and by the world's standards i, too, was a helpless mess and didn't have a thing to offer. i, too, desperately needed Someone to come save me - to give me a home, to give me love, and to give me life.
"what a wretched (wo)man i am! who will rescue me from this body of death? thanks be to god - through jesus christ our lord!" (romans 7:24)
never in my life has the lord's love and grace been so evident to me as it has been over these past few weeks. i, myself, was an orphan, separated from my perfect, holy creator by an infinite chasm of sin and rebellion. "but god demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, christ died for us" (romans 5:8). was my adoption into god's family an easy path? was the journey quick and painless? far from it! as you read in the previous verse, the reconciliation of a wretched sinner to a holy god comes at a great price, and acceptance of that undeserved grace is the only way to be adopted as the lord's own.
as for my own personal suffering, it "just so happens" that david platt spoke directly to this in church today. he asked, "how can the world see a suffering christ in me if everything goes perfectly in my life?" no pain, no difficulty, no reason to need anything beyond myself. these last two years - those marked by hurt, intense struggle, and death - brought me to the end of me and, praise god, laid me squarely at the feet of christ. it took me awhile. and in all honesty, when i was at them i despised some of the stops along this journey. but i can finally answer that question from so long ago: as an undeserving recipient of god's limitless love and infinite grace, it's my honor and joy to thankfully reflect the beauty of my own new life by bringing a precious baby boy home to be ours and to tell him an even bigger, more glorious story of love, sacrifice, and adoption.
as i shared with a friend this week, this story is such a dramatic mix of raw ugliness and intense beauty, and it points directly to the greatest story i know:
"once you were alienated from god and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. but now he has reconciled you by christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemisn and free from accusation."