Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The place I never thought I'd be...

     Have you ever had one of those moments?  One of those moments where you thought, I cannot believe I am here...that I am doing this?  Well, welcome to one of mine.  I never thought I would have a blog.  I don't have anything against them.  I even read some occasionally.  I just never thought I would be writing one.  And, yet, here I am.  When I first thought about starting one, I was going to write about all things gluten-free.  Since we discovered that Ella had Celiac Disease in January 2007, it has been quite a journey for me to learn and cook for her.  I thought it might be helpful to share with others some of the things I have learned and am learning along the way.  I might still do that.
     But, like so many things in my life, I believe God has a different plan.  About a year and a half ago, some much-loved friends introduced us to a book called "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan.  I started reading it almost immediately, and as I often do, somehow got distracted about halfway through and put it down.  About six months later, I picked it back up, and, this time, absolutely could not get through it fast enough. I have since read it again.  That little red book has had such a profound impact on my life.  My outlook, my perspective, and what I want my future to look like have all changed.  What God used Francis Chan to teach me over the course of that book was that the "Christian" life I had been living actually looked very little like Biblical Christianity.  What followed has been an intense time of Bible reading, soul searching, countless conversations with Neal (fellow Crazy Love reader), and finally, decisions to make some changes.  We began to ask ourselves a series of questions...and still do.  We started asking things like...

     - "Where are we spending our time (i.e.,TV, Bible reading, prayer, serving, etc.)?"
     - "Where are we spending our money?"
     - "What does 'Crazy Love' look like lived out?" 
     - "How are we using our possessions (house, things, etc.) to glorify God?" 
     - "And, if 'the purpose of our lives is to advance the the gospel,' (David Platt) how am I doing that?"

And, we decided the answers to those questions were not in talking...not in discussing...but in doing.  In making changes.  In choosing to live differently.  In being obedient. 
     I am not "there."  I don't think I will be this side of Heaven.  But, I can say that I have whole-heartedly embraced the Jesus of the Bible.  I want to follow Him until the day I die.  And, I have come to the very Biblical realization that following Him might actually require my death at some point.  Matthew 16:24 (ESV) says "Then Jesus told his disciples, 'if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'"  In our very comfortable, Americanized view of Christianity, I think we try to make that verse sound better to ourselves by assuming that Jesus really couldn't be asking us to die for the sake of the gospel.  Or, we think that He might be asking some people to die for the sake of the gospel...like missionaries...maybe even pastors.  But, is He really asking us ALL to die?  I think He is.  The one thing that I have truly learned over the last year is that we must die to ourselves.  Completely.  We must give everything that we think is "ours" over to Him.  Everything.  Our money. Our time.  Our possessions.  Our plans.  Our family.  And, we must fully surrender to Him.  And, then, yes...we must be ready to die for the sake of the gospel.  I believe it.  And, it has freed me so much that I cannot even describe it.  It's amazing how laying all of that down really does help us to find freedom in Him.
     And, a few weeks ago, Neal and I had one of those moments.  One of those moments where we found ourselves in a place where we never thought we would be.  After talking, praying, researching, and talking much, much more, we knew that God was calling us to do something that was going to require a lot of faith.  We knew that He was calling us to step out, to trust Him, and to depend on Him in a way that we had never done before.  We knew He was calling us to a place that we never thought we'd be.  We knew He was calling us to begin the process of international adoption.  And, we knew that the country that He was calling us to was Ethiopia.  KNEW IT.  And, the day we knew, we started the paperwork.  But, even in those first few days, I still had little remnants of doubt.  Not about doing it...but about HOW we will do it, and wondering, yes, if indeed we might be crazy.  After all, our 3 children are currently 5, 2, and 8 months.  To some (sometimes me) that sounds a little crazy.  But, it didn't change what I knew.  I knew that He was calling us to do it, and, ironically enough, I had decided that my "theme" for the year, my "resolution" of sorts was that I was going to do all I could to be "radically obedient" to whatever Jesus called me to do.  And, as He always is, our God is faithful.  He has given me so many confirmations over just the span of a few days that He is indeed calling us to walk the path of international adoption.  On Super Bowl Sunday alone, we had 3 such confirmations.  God is SO good.  He is SO faithful.  He gives us faith when we have none.  He strengthens our faith when it is small.  And, somewhere in just a few short weeks, He has put a stake in the ground of my heart concerning adoption.  I no longer have doubts.  I only have excitement, and joy, and thoughts of what our life is going to be like, and a DEEP desire to spend time in Africa, and a mind that can't gather information fast enough about adoption and all that it entails.  And, I am sure that we aren't crazy.  I am sure that THIS doesn't even qualify as radical.  It is just obedience.  It's just the way that God has asked us to live out James 1:27 (ESV) "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."  And, I am ready to go on the journey.
     And, that is where we come full circle...back to why I started a blog.  We have shared all this with many of you.  In fact, this blog is full of thoughts that I have wrestled through in long conversations with some of you and continue to do so...But, I wanted a place where I could share the process...the journey...and my heart for it all.  If this bores you to tears, I won't be offended.  Or, if you want to go down this road alongside of us, I would love it.  I would welcome it.  I don't have all the answers, but I know Who does.  I am confident that He is leading us on a journey that will be worth taking.  And, I cannot wait to see what He has in store. 

"Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it." - 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV)