July 2011 comes and goes and we are left with a full plate. Much like the previous month, Leigh and I fielded questions about my lack of job and about the adoption. We have prayed over this situation for months, even before I officially lost my job because I knew it was coming. For months we sensed a stirring towards something different, something greater. I am not discounting the greatness and importance of being a teacher, but a desire for something more. A spiritual unrest as one friend and mentor put it. I blame most of the stirring on David Platt and his book Radical. I have never had more of a spiritual eye opening experience until reading through his book. The bluntness and boldness of his words struck a chord in many of the hearts within the Sunday school class that read and those of us that bought into the book. Unfortunately, not everyone read it or took it serious. As for those of us who did, our lives will never be the same. Our spiritual blinders have been removed and it is for the better. So many times we just go to church and play, go through the motions and pat ourselves on the back because we made it months in a row and never missed a Sunday. We sit in the same pew, mouth the same words to the same songs and turn our act or worship to a holy, pure, and righteous God into a mundane, ho-hum, robotic trance that we get into and then think we are doing God a favor by being there and following the routine set forth by generations of spiritually hollow robots. How dangerous! How prideful and how shameful! The God of this universe has been condensed down to an hour of our life on Sunday morning and we call ourselves Christian because we go to church, don’t drink, don’t cuss and are “good”. What a shame. Shame on me for being that guy. Shame on the church. We sit in the segregated communities we call church, generally hoping that the lost of our community will come waltzing through our door, preferably in a shirt, tie or dress, smell nice and be groomed to become church folk already. How ridiculous! Thousands of people are dying lost every day and going to hell because they don’t come to us, and better yet, because, “I’m just not called to missions.” Give me a break. Please do not call yourself a Christian and ever let those words come out of your mouth. The Great Commission is written in red in my Bible, probably important. It’s not an option given to us by Jesus, but rather a command for all his people to follow. 4 parts people, 1. Go to all nations, 2. Make disciples (have to be one to make one) 3. Baptize them, 4. Teach them. This is not a spiritual gift we are given, not something we hope to acquire one day. It is for me and you to go and do, not to sit back and study and talk about doing it, or watch others do, or hope that someone is doing it. We individually are responsible for doing it in some form or fashion. It is my prayer that we are not taking it and changing it to fit our lives so that we remain comfortable and use the calling excuse to excuse ourselves from this calling and then someday stand before the almighty judge and have the audacity to say that we did it. How dare we live a life pretending to follow a watered down gospel.
The last 2 weeks have continued to be right on par with the pressures of being jobless, having bills and a family, and in the process of adoption. None of which are cheap and easy. We even had the experience of strangers that know I am jobless ask how things are going and even so far as to ask if my knee surgery that I had has anything to do with why I don’t have a job. It amazes me that very few people even have an ounce of curiosity about the adoption. Here we are in the middle of changing the life of a fatherless, loveless child for likely an eternity, and hardly anyone is curious. You care enough about my electric bill to ask about my job but not about the millions of children that are orphaned and the privilege that Leigh and I, and you too, have the opportunity and responsibility of changing? Interesting. While wading through the mounds of paperwork involved in updating our home study and other adoption related paperwork, a few verses have popped into our head as we continue to receive the moans and groans of those that just don’t get it, those that think that having 2 biological kids is enough and want to pretend the orphan crisis is not real and pretend that when we die and stand in judgment that the defender of the fatherless is not going to ask us what we did about it. If we ignore it, does it really go away? I shudder at the thought of having to answer, nothing, “I didn’t know.” Some verses are:
Deuteronomy 10: 17-20 17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 1920 Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name.
Psalm 68: 5-6 5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God sets the lonely in families
These are just 2 examples of what God has been saying to us over the past two years since we have officially been in the adoption process. With the first, God shows no partiality. He sees me no different than the orphan that is awaiting us in Poland or the one that is awaiting you, whether you have accepted the call to adopt or maybe you don’t even know it’s there. In fact, those of us in Christ have been adopted into His holy family, the royal priesthood. Praise God! In Psalm 68:5, a father to the fatherless. Here we are for hours upon end hearing from the pulpit to be more Christ like and be like Jesus, yet Christians across America are not responding to this verse and to the adoption crisis. If American Christians stepped up to the plate and got our version of Jesus out of the way of the Jesus of the Bible, lives would be changed, families restored, nations healed, and Christ would be exalted.
Thanks to authors David Platt and Russell D. Moore, we have been spiritually slapped across the face and kicked in the gut by reading their books, Radical and Adopted for Life. Both are powerful. As we were riding to from a wedding shower in Michigan this past weekend, my wife and I decided to finally look Russell Moore up on the iPod. He had been there for months; I only downloaded the book because it was free. We could not find KLOVE anymore, so we gave it a listen. God is good at what he does. We did not need to hear the book months ago, we needed it then, on I-75, those moments, in that van. That was Sunday, July 24th. Fast forward to Monday night the 25th. Not only are we celebrating the birthday of my best man and cousin, but starting our churches version of VBS. I fought with the decision to participate; after all, I did not want to miss my usual Monday night volleyball ritual. I gave in and volunteered to teach the pre-school age class. After all, what was I going to say, my kid does not have a teacher because I chose to go play volleyball instead? Where were my priorities? Kids learning about Christ or hitting a leather ball for 2 hours in the heat? So there we are, VBS in full motion, 30+ preschool aged kids in the parking lot running wild. When all the sudden, my wife Leigh comes busting out of the building, hands in the air, talking about something I couldn’t even make out. I went on with the hot potato game for a moment until I could take the curiosity no longer. Her expressions suggested someone had called with bad news. Had someone passed away? Once she allowed for oxygen to seep back into her mouth, she said our agency had called. As with many waiting families, I automatically assumed it was a paperwork need or possibly they needed more money. I am on the verge of selling plasma already to fund this thing. Then, with tears welling up in her eyes she says we have just received a referral for a little 2 year old girl in Poland! I take the cool dad road and say that’s cool, while on the inside the flood gates were preparing to burst open. We rushed to a computer to view the medical records and pictures we were sent. At this point, it did not matter what they said. We had prayed faithfully for nearly two years that God would send us the child. It was 7:30 pm and our minds were set at 7:31. For two days we met with medical personnel to review the file, 2 doctors, 3 nurses, and 1 pharmacist later, we decided that there was nothing there we could not handle with Gods strenth and provision. In another example of how God’s timing and plans are perfect, He blesses us with a little girl that might have a learning disability and needs speech therapy. If you know us, that is funny. We both work with special needs children already, me with a special ed degree and my wife as a speech therapist. We prayed, cried and snotted all over this little girls pictures with our friends and spiritual advisors. We had people praying on 3 different continents for this girl, this process, and this decision. So after all this for two days, we called and accepted the referral for Wiktoria (Victoria).
She is 2 years old, which fits nicely between our 5 and 1 year old. She has rosy little tater cheeks and likes bikes, babies, stuffed animals, and strollers, just like Ryleigh, our 5 year old. So with this, we will be getting travelling dates for our first trip to meet her soon. We covet your prayers and know that we serve a good God who is faithful and just and will continue to lead us on this journey of adoption. We don't know how we are going to complete the process financially, but if we did, there would be no faith involved.
It had never hit me until today that the adoption that has taken place between Christ and us is just like this. Here we were, fatherless, unloved and deemed unlovable. We have issues, we are dirty, undeserving at times too, but Christ does not see through man’s eyes. He takes us in, cleans us up, loves, and we now have someone to cry to, to cry out Abba. I am in near tears as I picture this little girl tonight. Another night alone. Another night with no one to tell her they love her. No one to tuck her in at night. Another night of desperation and hopelessness. But we are coming. She does not know it, but we are coming. The question remains for the millions of other orphans, will you come?