Friday, January 29, 2016

Where Courageous and Crazy Meet

When fresh water from melting glaciers and saltier water of the ocean come together in the Gulf of Alaska, you get this: a thin wall formed in the ocean that does not allow the two densities of water to mix.  It is an amazing sight!  This can be a visual picture of how one's worldly tainted eyes see something versus what another's spiritual, Holy Spirit-filled eyes see. One perspective is watered down by the blandness of the world while the other is full of the saltiness of walking in faith with the Lord.  Where they meet is what can be called the reality of courageous living for Christ!  This is nothing short of a  place to be that truly gives God glory.

I've been called courageous, and I've been called crazy to my face several times in the last few weeks.  Courageous, for stepping out on faith to do something that wasn't easy, and crazy for attempting to do things that a "normal" family wouldn't.
So am I a demented woman needing therapy or a courageous, faith-filled inspiration to others?
This pondering has led me to consider many people's stories I've been introduced to in recent years.  Were they courageous, or were they crazy?  Did it all matter to the perspective of the onlooker?  Was their success dependent on their being a little nutty and irrational or was it based on a deep faith based in God's Word that He could do the impossible through their lives?  Let's take a look, because I'm just as curious as you are!

First, lets consider what the Bible has to say about those who were seen as crazy.  I think about Noah.  Definitely crazy to all who looked on his incredible act of faith to take 100 years to build an ark when no one at the time had ever seen a drop of rain.  But when we look back, we see a faith-filled man who had the courage to do what seemed impossible to accomplish God's plan.
Look at Abraham.  Did his family see him as crazy for leaving everything he knew behind to go to a land God would show him, when he had no idea where it was?  Yep, we'd see that as definitely crazy. Give that man some counseling, he's as lost as a goose.  But as we see his story unfold, what an amazing act of courage to fulfill God's plan for His chosen people, from whom the Savior of the world would come.  How about Moses, Joshua, David, Daniel, Isaiah, Hosea, John the Baptist, the Apostles, the first martyrs.....?  In every account they were seen to have wild ideas, insane actions, outrageous plans, yet after we see the big picture, we know they acted on faith and demonstrated great courage.

Now let's go to more recent history.  My oldest son is addicted to missionary biographies.  He is inspired and is regularly telling me about Lottie Moon, Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, William Booth, Adoniram Judson, George Muller, Jim Elliot, amongst dozens of others who have one common thread in their lives given for the sake of the Gospel: incredible courage and faith.  Every one of them was called crazy by many onlookers who didn't understand why they did it and for whom.  Even those who understood would critique them, try to stop them, dissuade them from being so bold to go where they went, but they served and sacrificed anyway.  Despite opposition and opinion, they obeyed, and God was glorified.

We look at these figures who have gone before us and think "Wow, what an inspiration! I sure couldn't do that".  Or could you?  I believe the reason our generation rarely sees change in our miserable sin-saturated world is because we have lost our courage.  Why?  We don't want to be called crazy, that's why.  We want acceptance, to blend in, to live it easy. We figure we'll get by with good morals, sharing our faith every once a while if we are ever so bold, and serve in the local church as long as it's not too sacrificial. Maybe a short term missions trip (that is guaranteed to be safe and give us great photo ops) can be added in to make us look extra faithful. All of these acts of service and obedience are great, but are they the BEST we can do to glorify God?  Will this type of living change the world around us in a radical way or will it just give us a good reputation and ease our conscience as being a good Christian?

Is giving your all when you answer God's call sound like this?
"Yes, Lord, but I can't handle......"
"Yes, Lord, but I will never....."
"Yes, Lord, but I can only do THIS much..."
Is this really surrendering all?

What is true courage and undeniably a faith-filled answer sounds more like this:
"I deny my comfortable friendships and will go where I don't fit in"
"I deny my creature comforts: a big house, a nice car, and nice clothes, so that I can give my all"
"I deny having a toned, in shape body so that I can be more available to the Lord and spend more time serving Him"
"I deny my hobbies and indulgences so that I can pour my time and resources into serving the Lord in His mission field"
"I deny my comfort zone- I will intentionally become uncomfortable physically, emotionally, and spiritually for God's glory"
"I deny my plans and goals for my life and will drop all of them for God's plan"

Maybe we don't want to be courageous because we haven't seen it done before by someone we know. Just reading an article or a book doesn't connect those people with our reality like having someone in our life to go before us in the frontier of courageous living.  What if God wants YOU to be first?  What if the Christians around you are waiting for someone else to take that first step of faith and YOU need to be that person?

I still lack courage to do more for the Lord's glory.  Sometimes I feel like such a coward, because I look at our family's schedule and think "we can't squeeze in any more!".  Sometimes I look at the price and think "There isn't the money for that".  Sometimes I just say "We're not equipped to do it" or "That would hurt a relationship too much".  I have so far to go.  The Christian heroes before us slept very little, endured many ailments and diseases, underwent persecution, and even lost loved ones. Yet they never looked back.  They gave their all.  Why can't I?

Brothers and Sisters, are we going to see a significant change in this world to turn to Christ if we just pray God will send someone else to do it?  What if that someone is You?  What if it is Me?

What is holding you back?  No one wants to be called crazy.  But do you want to look back on your life years from now and see your decisions as cowardly?  Will you regret taking the easy, comfortable road?  Will it be too late if you don't step out now?  Will it be too late for those who would follow after your bold example?

Will you let courageous and crazy meet in your life?

He did.

Friday, January 15, 2016

When He Doesn't Part the Waters

Our generation lives in a culture of "Just name it and claim it".  Especially if it is a good thing, a God-honoring thing, it must be His will to give it to us, right?  If we are God's children we are entitled to His gifts and blessings! No, this is not my mentality at all as a believer.  I am sickened by feel good "pastors" who flood news feeds on Facebook with their quotes about God's blessing us if we trust Him.
If you want to figure out what God's purposes really are, don't go to Joel Olsteen or Joyce Meyers.  Go to God's Word.  Read how He is jealous for His glory, not our blessings.  He wants to accomplish His purposes, not our wants.  He does seek to care for His children, but He is all-wise and we should trust Him when He answers our prayers with a "No."

So many of you have been cheering us on our adoption journey, especially with our heart for hosting "L" from Eastern Europe.  You have been hoping with us for a great outcome with this second hosting, longing to see her experience the love of a forever family who wishes for her to have hope and a future as our daughter.  Many of you have texted me, asked about her in person, and written comments under photos. Thank you so much for your concern and burden for her salvation and future.  The church needs more compassion for orphans, and you have shown you truly care. 

I regret to tell you all that God didn't part the waters this time.  We came into hosting not trying to set our expectations high, but we still found ourselves looking hard for evidence that "L" wanted to be adopted.  Unfortunately, it's not going to work out.  We are crushed and heartbroken, but have tried to still love her as our honorary daughter and understand that many orphans who come to America don't sign up for adoption.  They agree to hosting: an experience of fun, travel, learning English, and being in an American home with a family that will love them.  She wasn't obligated to agree to adoption, so we shouldn't be angry at her or resent her mindset during hosting.  
Fortunately, "L" has been exposed to the Gospel.  We have given her a Bible in her language, have taught her how to read it, and have shared the Gospel as best we could communicate it to her. She is also going home to a foster sister who accepted Christ while she was being hosted with a different family in a different part of the country!  She is also connected now by Facebook and has made contact since arriving home on Thursday night.  We hope and pray for a continued relationship with her so we can encourage her, share with her, and know how to pray for her.  We also pray she can be hosted by another family in the United States this summer who can love her and encourage her as we have.

So where does that leave us now in our adoption journey?  In a month we will be approaching the one year mark since officially becoming paper pregnant again.  We have called our adoption lawyer to ask about birth moms, and have been told several looked at our profile book this past year.  We were not picked, but we were glad to know there are birth moms in our area who are choosing life for their unborn children and desire to place them in adoptive homes.  Our book will continue to be shown at his office and in other locations where possible birth mothers may inquire about finding an adoptive family. We have also looked into other options and will share in the future if directions change again.  Please be in prayer as we walk through these doors of opportunity.

I know many of you want to know how, since we never had a social worker officially ask her again, that "L" doesn't want adoption.  Please respect our request to not pry, but just understand that this door has shut.  When God doesn't move in the way we pray for Him to move, that means He is just displaying His wisdom and goodness to withhold something He knows is not His best for us.  He is a good Father, and as an earthly father sometimes doesn't give his son or daughter something they ask for because he knows they don't need it, our Heavenly Father needs to be trusted as well.
We are trusting, waiting, and hoping while resting in the arms of a comforting, good Father.  He dries tears, fills pain with peace, and strengthens our weary hearts.
If any of you want more information about orphan hosting, please let me know.  While we didn't get to fill our desire to adopt through hosting, we did get the opportunity of a lifetime to invest in a girl who needed to know Christ and the love of a family.  She will hopefully always have us there for her in the future as well, and that is a wonderful comfort.  There are always children available to host through several different organizations who never get picked.  My heart grieves that those opportunities are lost for them.  If God is touching your heart to do this type of ministry, don't put it off.  Inquire and commit!  I'll never have regrets and you won't either.