Pure, undefiled religion
When, Grace, our fourth child came along, I was certain I was done with expanding my family. Who wouldn’t be, especially when number four plays the high chair game?
My wife, however, felt God calling her to something more. She had a vision for a better story.
The word “adoption” would occasionally get thrown around our conversations. To me it sounded great for everybody but us, but my wife “seemed” to hear God telling her it was a way for our family to write a better story.
I say “seemed” because I wasn’t hearing the same thing. It is funny how she heard God say, “You have four kids, but you need one more, and you need one that is orphaned,” because I was quite certain I heard God saying, “You have four kids. You need a vasectomy!”
Which, when you stop to look at it, are not really all that different. God was telling both of us that we did not need to get pregnant again. I just stopped listening once I heard the part I liked.
Then God made me listen to the rest.
One of our pastors made a decision to leave our church so that he could plant a new church in his hometown of Cleveland. This was a hard decision for him. He wanted to stay where he was. He did not want to leave an established church that he had worked hard to help plant to start over from scratch. He was happy. He was content.
A new story did not seem better to him. It seemed harder.
But he could not quiet the voice of God in his heart.
In his last sermon before setting off on his adventure, he preached on the idea of not pursuing comfort. Like any other pleasure, comfort and safety are fleeting. They are both false illusions that we love to hang on to. Tightly.
God was telling me that I love comfort of a safe, boring story. And comfort will never satisfy like trusting him. Happiness will never be found in doing less for God’s kingdom. Joy will never be found in spending more time and money on myself.
God was telling me to trust him.
He wanted me to choose more sleepless nights instead of Sunday afternoon naps. To choose more tuition payments instead of early retirement. To choose dirty diapers instead of behaved older children. To choose ruckus instead of peace and quiet.
And then I admitted to what my wife tries to tell me all the time. She was right.
In the book The Lost Daughters of China, author Karin Evans describes returning home after adopting her daughter from China and experiencing the fullness of her love for her precious little girl.
On a sunny, midwinter morning not long after our return from China, I was standing in the kitchen holding Kelly, when I was struck by one of those bolts of clear realization that seems to come out of nowhere. As I pressed her chest against mine, her soft cheek brushing my face, I suddenly, absolutely, knew that I could not love this child any more than I did right then. I loved her without condition, without reservation, forever. There simply was no room left in my heart to love her more.
Evans experience helps us to understand why James 1:27 tells us that, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction.”
Instead of choosing myself, God was telling me to choose a poor, helpless, beautiful boy from China. A boy who is to become our son.
Now it does not seem like much of a choice at all.
Do you have any experience with adoption? Do you feel like God is telling you to do something else with your life? Tell your story in the comments.