Back in August after we decided to adopt Rachel, I sent out an e-mail the day we decided to adopt Rachel to share the story of our day with family and friends. The day after we received the file on Rachel, the day we had to make a decision by 11am, we received a call from Dr. Chambers at the International Adoption Clinic. She had reviewed Suhui’s file and consulted with a pediatric cardiologist. We had a long heart-wrenching conversation, but she summed it up for us as best case scenario Rachel would come home, have a heart catheterization to see if she’s candidate for the surgery that she needs, have the surgery, and more than likely live a full life. The worst case scenario she said would be that Rachel comes home, is not a candidate for surgery and lives to be a teenager or a young adult. Tommy and I were floored. How do you make a decision like this?
Then immediately after our conversation with Dr. Chambers we received a call from Karla, our social worker. Lily, who works for our agency in China, had been trying to get more info about Suhui for us. She found out from the CCAA that Suhui’s condition was very serious. They said that according to doctor’s there is a 50% chance that she would not survive another surgery.
Here is the rest of the e-mail that I sent:
After talking to our social worker, we told her we needed to talk and pray about all of the info we had received that morning. At this point, we had 1 hour left to decide and let her know whether to send our application to adopt Suhui on to China.
Tommy & I are sobbing after we get off the phone. Actually, I was crying through most of the conversation with our social worker. We prayed and just begged God to give us an answer because there is no way that we can make this decision on our own. Then we are waiting quietly for God to speak. I am praying, “God, my heart is breaking for her and wants to get her no matter what the future holds. If Your plan for us if a different one, I don’t know if I can hear it. Talk to Tommy. Tell him what to do. Don’t even talk to me. Just please, please, talk to Tommy.” (I also desperately knew that Tommy needed to hear an answer from God. I’m the one who wants to always jump out in faith and just trust God. But as provider and protector of our family, he’s very cautious and wants to know what the future holds.) Even while I’m quietly begging God to let Tommy know something, I hear God saying, “Go forward. Go forward.” I shared with Tommy what I was asking God to do and what I heard. I said, “I think you need to spend some time alone. You need to get an answer from God. Whatever you hear, that’s what we’ll do.” So he asked me to go talk to the boys about everything while he went out on the porch to pray. So I talked to the boys and prayed with them about Suhui.
Tommy said that he heard God say “Trust me.” Tommy says, “Trust you? What does that mean?” (He can be rather stubborn. 😉 ) Tommy says, “Does that mean ‘yes, go ahead’ or does that mean ‘no’? I NEED AN ANSWER!” Just then Tommy’s phone rings. It is our minister, Bo, who Tommy is very close to. I had text-messaged a bunch of friends “Please pray. We received very bad news about the condition of our potential daughter’s heart. We have to make a decision whether or not to proceed by 11:30am today.” Bo told Tommy, “I just feel like I need to tell you that God is bigger than her heart condition.” Tommy came inside with years running down his face and said “Let’s go call Karla. She needs to send our paperwork to China.” By the way Bo text-messaged me, “Go. God is bigger than her heart condition. Go get her.”
It was/is just so exciting knowing without a doubt that this is God’s plan for us!
However, I received an e-mail in response from a family member telling me that God doesn’t speak to us today, that Tommy and I made the decision not God. I immediately felt like God is already using Rachel to help us to reach out to this person. Following is an edited version of my response to this person. Keep in mind that I come from an extremely conservative background. Those of you who do not come from a similar background may not “get” the following, but I think that it will resonate with those of you who do. Also, note that I have a good enough relationship with this person to say the things that I do.
To the subject of whether or not God speaks to us today. I want to start by saying that to try to convince me that God doesn’t speak to me is like trying to convince me that there is no God. I’ve experienced it enough times to stop doubting and questioning whether or not this is my imagination or if this is God speaking. I do believe that as humans we can be fooled into thinking that God is telling us to do something He’s not–great example is people who think God is telling them to leave their spouse for another person. That’s why it is so important to measure everything we think we hear from God’s Spirit against scripture.
(The person the letter is addressed to had said that I should listen to older, wiser Christians, so the following is in response to that.)
There are many deeply devoted followers of Christ who are teaching similar things. Some of them are older and have spent even more time studying Scripture than you and __________. And further they are drawing from the writings of Christians throughout the ages. So forgive me if I don’t believe in following the wisdom of a group of people who think they’ve suddenly discovered the ultimate truth of the Scriptures in just the past 100 years. Quite frankly, I think this group bears a remarkable resemblance to the Pharisees of Jesus time. They were the people who appeared to be the most religious, and they thought they had it all figured out–God, the ancient scriptures, how to live. I refuse to be a part of anything that resembles this. Jesus used His harshest words He spoke on earth to severely reprimand those who thought they had all the answers. This is an interesting contrast to how He treated the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, Zaccheus the repulsive (in his time) sinner-tax collector. Jesus taught and corrected them with compassion while He blasted the Pharisees with very severe strong words. He called them ” hypocrites” which comes from a word to referring actors in plays popular during Jesus’ time, “blind guides,” and “white-washed tombs” meaning they looked good on the outside but were dead on the inside. He said that they “shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces” and that they kept the rules of the laws but “neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy, and faithfulness.” He called them “snakes” and “brood of vipers.”
One of the things that has contributed to this idea that we suddenly have figured everything about scripture out in the last hundred years is our “modern” way of thinking. Modern thinking has taught us that everything can be analyzed and boiled down to a scientific formula or steps and a set of rules. Everyone living in Western society during the past hundred years is deeply affected by this scientific view of life and our belief that it is the best or only way to view things, including scripture. Eastern thought (Jesus and the Israelites and the early Christians were all Easterners brough up in a culture of thinking completely different from ours by the way) is very different from the way we have been taught to think. What this has done is transform a beautiful, amazing, hard-to-believe love story of a God pursuing His people as a man pursuing an unfaithful lover into a book of rules, steps, and formulas. Unfortunately, we have missed a lot of the beauty of the scripture because of this.
Can you possibly for a moment turn off your analytical mind–not forever just for a moment. Does anything I’ve written appeal to your heart that you have so carefully hidden away to protect it from further hurt in your life? I know that you have deep hurts in your life. Because of our fallen world these are common realities for many people. And Satan uses them to attack our hearts because he knows that it is through our heart that God reaches us. If the enemy can keep us from falling deeply and passionately in love with God, then the battle is mostly won for him. Unfortunately, we cannot fall in love with someone with our mind. This kind of thing comes from our God-given heart. God put these deep desires in your heart for a reason. What kind of cruel God would say “I’m placing all of these deep desires in you but your job is to live in opposition to those desires, crush them, kill them!” My God is far too loving to do that, AND He is powerful enough to heal our broken hearts and use those desires He gave us to bring glory to Himself. So you need to know that He loves you and that He is big enough and powerful enough to heal the woundedness and repair the brokenness of your heart. You just have to ask Him to and then let Him have access to all the painful parts. Sorry, this has a lot to do with emotion which I know you hate. But life is just too short and hard to live disconnected from your heart. All the times that you do feel distraught over the disappointments and frustrations in your life are times where your Father, your true Daddy, is trying to reach out to you. They are not times to conquer your emotions with reason. In fact, what do you want most during your saddest moments? Do you want someone to reason with you and tell you that your feelings are a bunch of crap? Or do you want someone to love you, to hug you, to tell you everything is going to be alright, to tell you that they will always be there for you? God, your Papa, is waiting, even longing, to give these things to you. But you have to be brave enough to let down your guard and let Him in. It takes courage to live this kind of life.
I have chosen to give God access to my heart and let Him heal the broken places. And what I am finding is more and more joy and peace in my life every single day, not just high-sounding religious “joy” and “peace” but real, true, heartfelt joy and peace. So I’m sorry. There is no way that you can convince me to give that up to live your life or worry and disappointment. My life is far from perfect. There are still struggles and hard times. But overall it just gets more and more deeply satisfying. I wouldn’t trade it for anything! Suddenly the verse popped in my head about the man who finds a treasure in a field and sells everything he has to buy the field.
I am enclosing an excerpt from a book called The Sacred Romance and a few more readings. They focus on the importance of the heart to God (with scriptures supporting this idea). I would suggest a word study of the way the heart is talked about throughout scripture. In fact, that’s something I’ve been meaning to do myself.
Just know that I love you and want more for you than the “small story” the enemy has you trapped into believing is all there is to life. God has a much bigger story for you to live in. And He has a role that only you can play–one that He specifically made you for. Yes, He’s that big of a God.
I also send excerpts from Walking with God, which is all about hearing the voice of God. The website has video book excerpts expanding on different topics in the book. Highly recommended reading!