Expecting a teenager (Part II)

All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator in all I have not seen.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I want to wash my hands of it.

The what-if’s and worries reel and whirl in my head and settle in my stomach and I think I just don’t want to do this. The unknowns, the fears, the possibilities and probable failures wrestle me till I’m weary and worn out.  Oh, how I want more faith! How I want to be like David, who trusted God with everything, even his very life!

“The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Sam. 17:37)

If faith is “trust in things unseen,” then can’t what we have seen certainly increase our faith? David had seen God defeat the lion and the bear, and so he trusted him to defeat his enemy. But we have to force ourselves to remember what God has done, because we “have spiritual Alzheimer’s, always forgetting.”(Voskamp)

I think, instead, that I’m more like Hagar in the desert, who although she had seen God face-to-face, had accepted his promise and named him “the God who sees me”—still forgot. Years later, when she thirsted in the desert, she forgot the God who saw her, and she wept for her fate.

But God did not forget her. And he will not forget me.

I can say with certainty that God will not be mocked, and when he calls us to obedience, he will deliver. Just like with David—he will win the battle.

So I force myself to remember. When I want to run, I force myself to remember. When I want to give up, I force myself to remember. When things do not make sense, I force myself to remember. For the God who sees me is the God who “chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise…what is weak in the world to shame the strong…what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

He sees me. He sees you. And he knows how the story ends. Remember…

Try, try again

So many times I feel caught in failure’s fist.  Stuck in self-saturated sin, unrighteous to my core, and wanting to reject the cross because I just. don’t. deserve it.   

I think am like the Israelites.  This special, chosen people rejected God to worship fake, unworthy heaps of metal. They forgot the God who rescued them out of Egypt and saved them from slavery. They followed other nations’ ideals instead of obeying the Word of the Lord.  And then–oh, how it broke God’s heart!–they removed Yahweh from their throne and replaced him with a king made of bones and blood. 

But there is a part of this story I just don’t understand–instead of cursing them, instead of writing them off and picking another people to cherish–God shows grace.  When they come to ask for redemption, admitting that they deserve death (1 Sam. 12:19), God’s reply through the prophet Samuel is this:

“For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.” (1 Sam. 12:22)

So this is grace.  Not forsaken.  Not because of who we are, but because of who HE is.  He shows grace because it pleases Him.

But I love that God knows humanity’s nature, knows that grace is complicated and messy, knows that we want to both accept it and reject it.  So he says:

 “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart.  For consider what great things he has done for you.” (I Sam. 12:24)

And this too is grace.  These commands to fear the Lord, serve him faithfully, give thanks for what He has done…all grace.  Because he knows we’ll want to….we need to.  So not only does he allow us to try, try again, he asks us to! 

It’s his grace that redeems, and it’s his grace that lets me wake each morning to try again.  And so I do.

We’re Expecting!…..a Teenager

So here’s the story.
Ever since Hubby and I were dating, we’ve talked about adopting “someday.” But when we had our first child, the thought got pushed into the background, replaced by the constant onslaught of diapers, sippy cups, and sleepless nights.

Last year, however, Hubby came to me and quietly asked, “What do you think about adopting…now?” My response was of course humble and gentle. “WHAT?” I snapped, “Are you crazy? Two little kids is enough right now. Why would you even ask me that?” But in spite of my response, what God laid on his heart was not to be denied, so he began praying (unbeknownst to me) that if this was truly what we were called to do, God would change my heart and align it with his.

Then last September, out of nowhere, I had this recurring, nagging thought that I needed to at least look into adopting. So I talked with friends who’d done it, researched online until my eyes burned…and prayed. After a few weeks I went to Hubby and said, “Uh, so…what do you think about adopting a teenager?”
With tear-strained voice he replied, “Funny–I’d been praying you would ask me that.”

We love teenagers. We enjoy spending time with them, we cherish their stage of life, the questions, the conversations, even the heartache of poor decisions made and regrets formed. And when we visited various websites and saw the great need for adopting older children through the foster care system, our hearts broke. Who will guide these kids as they begin making the tough decisions of adulthood? Who will fight alongside them as they face the challenges of growing up? And once they graduate high school, where will they return “home” for holidays? When they have kids of their own, who will they call “Grandma and Grandpa?”

We’ve done hours and hours of training and reading and talking and praying. We know there will be challenges. We are aware of the risks. And yet, we cannot deny God’s moving in our hearts and his calling on our lives. Will you pray with us as we enter this new stage of life? As the young Samuel said, “It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him.” (1 Sam. 3:18)

Grace to a Four Year Old

Today you pushed your baby sister, your face flashing in indignation, and while she fell, betrayed and crying, your self-righteousness suddenly faded to sorrow. Realizing what you’d done–seeing the soul-crushing weight of your sin–you sobbed, “I should get hurt too!”

Punishment is right and just. It’s what makes sense. We should be punished–for every surge of anger, every smug thought, every cruel and taunting word, every pride-filled motive and self-centered motion. HURT is what we deserve.

But then comes grace.

So my reply to you, sweet girl, as you whimpered, seeing yourself as you truly are:

“I know, Rae. But that’s why Jesus died. He took all the pain and punishment, all the hurt that we deserve and he bore it upon himself. That’s called grace.”

I don’t deserve it. And neither do you. And so it remains–amazing (overwhelming) grace.