Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Cost of Adoption - Part 1

I don't know if you have caught on yet or not, but I am not going to be one of those people who blogs a lot.  I am only here in the blogging world because I believe it is where God wants me, and I only want to share with you those things that I am sure that He has given me to share.  With that said, this post is something that He has been working out in my heart for more than a month.  I still don't know if I will do it justice, but I will do my best to share with you what He is teaching me and hope that HE will make sense of it all.  After starting this post, I realized that it would take more than one post to fully explain what He's been up to in our lives, and I think it will make more sense if I break it up into two parts.  So, here goes Part 1... 

Several months ago, when Neal and I believed that God was leading us down the path of adoption, we did what many of you have done who have either adopted or have considered adopting at some point -- we talked about the cost.  In the world of adoption, it's definitely the elephant in the room.  It's the thing that at some point, you have to talk about.  For many of you who have considered adoption, it's the one thing that has held or is holding you back.  For others of you who have chosen adoption, it's been the thing that God has used to increase your faith.  For us, it was definitely a matter of serious discussion.  With international adoptions averaging around $30,000, it's not really a surprise that the subject would come up for any of us.  For Neal, it's truly never been that big of a deal.  For ME, early on in the process, it was a barrier to my obedience.  Now, you must know, I am the one who does the daily managing of our budget.  In the world of Dave Ramsey lingo, I am DEFINITELY the "nerd" in the relationshiop.  Not shocking to most of you, and some of you would say that's an understatement!  So, in my very Dave Ramsey, Financial Peace-loving mind, I had decided that even though we believed that God was calling us to adopt, that the very "responsible" thing to do would be to save up the money for a few years until we had the required funds, and THEN adopt.  Very responsible of us, I thought.  Take care of the bases, tie up all the loose ends, and THEN be obedient.  The problem with that is, God wasn't asking us to adopt down the road, and I knew it.  He was telling us to start the adoption process NOW.  And, I don't know about you guys, but the Gruhns don't just have $30,000 lying around in our "whatever shall we do with all our money" fund.  In the world of parenting, my response was what is known as "delayed obedience."  And, as I like to say, "delayed obedience is disobedience."  When I ask my girls to go clean up their toys, I am not okay with them deciding that they will be obedient tomorrow.  I am not even okay with them deciding to do it 10 minutes after I ask.  When I tell them to do something, I mean for them to do it right then.  Anything else is disobedience.  And, this idea of "delayed obedience" is the very conversation that God was having with me during this time.  But, as He often does, He used someone else in my life to demonstrate why His ways are better than mine. 

We have been blessed to have some very special people cross our paths over the 13 years we have been married.  One of these families is the Rose Family.  They are an AMAZING family and have been an inspiration to us since we first moved to Southern Illinois.  Mike was our worship pastor in Marion, and his wife, Nancy, is one of the most godly women I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  They have eight wonderful children (whom Nancy also homeschools!!!) and have been such a godly example to us in parenting, in faith, and in service to our God.  We were blessed to have our paths cross with them for a time, and I have been SO blessed to continue to learn from their lives and obedience via Facebook (isn't it wonderful?).  Well, during this time that I was arguing with God (let's just call it what it was!), Nancy shared an amazing God-story (the Roses ALWAYS have God-stories -- I believe because their faith in God is BIG!).  I will share it with you as best as I remember (if you are reading this Nancy, please forgive me if I get any of it wrong).  The Roses now live in Ohio and were wanting to go on a trip to visit their family in Michigan.  However, they really didn't believe that the tires on their van would safely make the trip, and so they had opted out of going.  Without them ever voicing their need, a man from their church showed up on their doorstep with a set of new tires for their van because he had "happened" to notice the worn out tires on their van in the parking lot at church.  Nancy doesn't even know it, but God SO used that story in my life to confirm to me that He WAS calling us to adopt, He was calling us to do it NOW, and that He WOULD provide.  I remember that as soon as I read that story, I came downstairs and told Neal, "I don't think we should save up the money.  I think we're supposed to do it now."  His response was somewhere along the lines of "I totally agree.  I have never thought we should wait."  Money was MY hang-up, not his.   

The "cost" of adoption is not something that I am past.  It's something that still tempts my obedience.  It's not that I begrudge the money or would rather spent it in another way.  It's not that at all.  I just frankly don't understand HOW it is all going to work out.  It doesn't work out on my budget spreadsheet, and my faith struggles at times because I can't SEE it or make it all work out in my head.  So, it's only natural that God and I would have many conversations about this, and that I have to surrender it and lay it at His feet often...almost daily. 

The week of Easter, I could not get the "cost" out of my mind.  While I usually spend the week of Easter trying to be mindful of what Jesus did for me on the cross, this year was different.  I could not get the "cost" of my salvation out of my mind.  All through this process, people have told me that adopting a child will give me a greater understanding of what Jesus did on the cross for me.  I feel like God gave me a tiny glimpse into that this Easter.  You see, we are not God's natural children.  As Christ-followers, we believe that JESUS is God's only Son.  Most of us probably know John 3:16 (NIV) - "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  When Jesus, God's only Son, died on the cross, He paid the price for our sins.  He made it possible for us to become the adopted children of God.  Don't misunderstand a key part of this.  Jesus' death does not mean that we are automatically His children.  It's only in choosing to accept His sacrifice for our sin and choosing to follow Him that we become His children.  John 1:12 says, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."

As someone who grew up going to church, I knew all this in theory.  I accepted Jesus' sacrifice for my sin at a young age and made the conscious decision to follow Him.  This wasn't new stuff to me.  What WAS new to me was what was what God was already doing in my heart regarding the "cost of adoption."  You see, I was grappling with $30,000.  I was trying to understand how God was going to provide the means to what He is calling us to do.  But, what was new to me was the complete realization of what MY adoption cost my heavenly Father.  "The cost of adoption" for God was NOT $30,000.  The cost for HIM to adopt ME was the life of His only Son.  Grapple with that.  Let it sink in.  And, really let it soak down to the depth of your soul.  For me, what is IMPOSSIBLE  to fathom is that God CHOSE DEATH for His only Son so that I might have life.  Now, go there with me.  If $30,000 seems like a lot to you, imagine for a second that the price of adoption for the child God has called us to was the life of one of my biological children.  I cannot even understand that kind of sacrifice.  I am not deserving of that kind of love.  1 John 3:1 (NIV) - "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"

It was through the week of Easter this week that I came to not only a greater understanding of what God had done for me, but also why He SO loves adoption.  James 1:27 says - "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."  Someone had shared a thought a few months ago through a blog I read that it took me a while to figure out.  They said, God loves adoption because "adoption is the gospel."  At the time, I had taken this to mean that adoption was a way to be obedient to God's command to those who follow Him to "go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19)."  However, the week of Easter, I GOT it.  That's not what they were saying at all.  God loves adoption because it IS the gospel.  We, who have chosen to follow God, ARE adopted because of the death of His Son.  Adoption IS the gospel.  We cannot be His followers, redeemed by the blood of His Son, and be anything but FOR adoption. It is only through our OWN adoption that we get to be the children of God.

And, it was through this process that God revealed to me more about His provision for our own adoption process.  There will never be a greater need in my life or your life than our need for salvation and the forgiveness of our sins.  Without God's sacrifice of His Son, and the price He paid for our sin, we would be eternally separated from God.  Good works, acts of kindness, religious practices - NONE of these makes up for our sin.  NONE can put us in right standing before God.  God is HOLY.  He cannot tolerate sin.  Outside of accepting the shed blood of Jesus as the sacrifice for our sin, we have no hope in this life to be reconciled to Him.  Isaiah 64:6 says "...all our righteous acts are like filthy rags..."  It was through thinking deeper about this, that God revealed to me something I had never thought of before in terms of my own needs, particularly the financial needs associated with our adoption.  He has ALREADY met the greatest need I will ever have.  Why is it then, that I worry about anything?  And, why in the WORLD would I worry about something that I know clearly that He has called us to do?  Matthew 6:25-34 talks about how ridiculous it is for God's people to worry.  I know this passage well, yet I find myself guilty of worry far too often!  The revelation of this hit me like a ton of bricks, and I felt the Holy Spirit say to my heart, "If I met your greatest need through the death of my Son, don't you think I can handle everything else?  I have GOT this."  Oh, ME of little faith!!! 

And, to think that this is only Part 1.  I cannot WAIT to tell you what He has been doing to show me just how MUCH He has got this.  I will not make you wait long...I promise. 

Thanks, again, for going with us on our journey.  I cannot wait to share more with you...

Much love,