It’s 9 pm, and I’m sitting here at my kitchen table, feeding my 10 month old daughter some peaches. While I contemplate why she doesn’t swallow them, instead chewing on them for a second and then spitting them out, I look straight ahead, and my reflection in the back sliding door catches my eye. It’s a window, not a mirror, so my reflection is dark and faded. You can tell it’s me, but it’s not obviously me. It’s dim. It’s dark. And so I’m reminded of the verse from 1 Corinthians 13:12,
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
We, as humans, base so many decisions on fear. We can’t see the future and we can’t control most of the events that happen outside of our tiny sphere of influence. And even within that tiny bubble, we don’t have as much power as we’d like to believe. And so we make decisions to be as safe as we can and as comfortable as we can, worrying about what might happen in the future in an attempt to hold on to some sort of sanity.
And Christians are not immune to this. We know that Jesus tells us that we should not worry about tomorrow, that God loves us and will provide for us, and that He is working all things for the good of those that love Him. But we see dimly. When we look at the past parts of our lives, we can see God moving and see how he answered our prayers, and how every time we felt like He was far away and didn’t care, He was working in our lives the whole time. It’s obvious. But the future, now that’s another story.
A few months ago, our family hit a crossroads. After adopting our eighth child, we were at the maximum number of children you can have and still do foster care. Once the adoption was final, our license was immediately closed by the state and we were done caring for any more children in the foster system. We were at a loss as to what our next step would be. Were we done taking in children? Eight children is a lot, right? We could be done and just continue our life with the family that God has given us. Nobody would judge us if we stopped, in fact most would encourage us to do so. Surely God wouldn’t have anything ridiculous up his sleeve for us, right?
Adopting children in need and raising them up to follow and love Jesus Christ encompasses pretty much all of Jesus’ teachings. Care for the orphans, Check. Go and make disciples, Check. Love others as you would yourself, Check. This had been our family’s ministry for years, and now it was coming to an end. Or was it?
A few weeks ago, my wife showed me a picture of a child from Eastern Europe that she thought we were supposed to adopt. Usually I would just nod and say, “Maybe,” but in that moment, I knew we were supposed to bring them home. I had a moment of clarity in which I saw clearly the plan that God was setting before us.
But then the fear started to set in. International adoption is complicated, long, and expensive. It can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000. Most countries require that you spend around 3-4 weeks in-country. A dozen different organizations get way more involved in your life and send you mountains of paperwork. You need to take multiple trips to the country and spend weeks there jumping through hoops. Is our house big enough? Will they find a reason to say no? How do we raise the massive amount of money needed to complete such an adoption?
But looking back, this was exactly the way I felt when we started foster care. I looked for all the reasons to say no all along the way. All the “what ifs” floated through my brain until I wanted to run away and hide and not have to make a decision.
God has never promised that living the Christian life would be easy. We know this, and yet we want to believe that God’s good for us, that he promises, is the same as what we believe is good. That’s completely false. Look at the disciples! God worked all things for the good of those who love Him in their lives, and they all lived very difficult and sacrificial lives that mostly ended in imprisonment, physical punishment, and death.
If we are not feeling uncomfortable or stretched, are we really allowing God to move in our lives? We read about people who have done great things and we dream about having faith like they did, but we don’t even open our minds to the possibility. We say no so often that we don’t even hear when God has something for us. We build our comfortable wall of fear and call it safety, and never venture into the great adventure that God has for us.
We need to open ourselves up to the possibility of serving God His way instead of ours. As practice, imagine the most ridiculous things that God might ask of you. If you answer no to any of these questions, then you are not open for God to use you. If God asked you to sell your home and move to another country to spread the Word, would you? If God asked you to go outside and go door to door praying with people, would you? If God asked you to sell all your possessions to help someone in need, would you?
These may seem outside the realm of what God would ask of you, but they are all things clearly laid out in the lives of Christ-followers in the Bible. And if you cannot answer yes, then you are already shutting out God’s voice before you even hear it.
2 Timothy 1:7 English Standard Version (ESV)
7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Stop living in fear and begin to live in the power and love of God. Stop making your own plans and ask what plans God has for you. And when there is an opportunity for you to live out the Gospel, look for reasons to say yes. There will always be reasons to say no. The world is full of reasons that you shouldn’t do things. Believe in the promises of God and that if you are pursuing His will, he will uphold you throughout the journey.
Guest Discerning Dad
Narrow Path Ministries is in the process of opening an orphanage. An Endowment fund has been established to fund the orphanage.