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Thursday, November 7, 2013

A Determined Heart: A Thought on Meeting Our Kiddos for the First Time

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.  In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace…” Ephesians 1:3-5

The moment was pristine.  Crisp.  Raw.  The only time like it was the moment before my wife walked down the aisle.  "What will the rest of my life look like?", was the question running through my head on both occasions.  It was a moment so radical, so life changing, so surreal.  

We waited in nervous anticipation for the nannies to bring our kids around the corner.  On the night of our first meeting I was met with a mixture of leaping elation and sweating bullets in nervousness.  What would they be like?  Who were they?  Would they get what was happening?

We determined before we walked into the orphanage that regardless of what happened when they came around the corner, regardless of what their conditions were, we were going to do everything in our power to walk out of this place with them.  

Waiting to meet the kiddos.
We had chosen them.  Determined before we met them.  Determined before they could prove anything to us.  Determined before they said "I love you"...or said anything at all. Determined that these two would be our children.  And we would fight to make that true. 

This morning it nailed me between the eyes; this is God's heart with me.  Finally, I see grace.  My salvation was like that waiting room.  He determined regardless of my needs, regardless of my past of rebellion, that I would be his child and he would be my Father.  Regardless of what I thought about the whole thing, regardless of what I could give him in return.  He determined to bring me into his home.

I have no intention of leaving my kids where they are at.  I intend to do everything I can to help my little boy guide his emaciated 5 year old body into walking.  I intend to do everything I can to help my little girl strengthen her neck to hold her head up on her own.  Because, while I determined to get them in a loving home and to be a part of a family, and I determined that before they showed me what they could do, I also determined to do everything I can to help them grow.  I want them to know that there's more to life than the familiar walls of their orphanage and the familiar "walls" of their disabilities. There are limitations, sure, but there are possibilities, and I will call them to that.  I love them too much to let them stay as they are.  I love them too much to let them continue stimming (self-soothing through repetitive motions, often by hitting themselves).  I love them too much to let them remain comfortable with not walking, or not talking.  I will make them stretch muscles they don’t want to stretch and eat things they don’t want to eat.  Because there’s a richer, fuller life beyond what they now know. 

My God has loved me in the same way.  He determined before I met him that he loved me and that I would be in his family.  He determined to accomplish it regardless of the cost.  Determined to do it regardless of what I could ever possibly give him in return.  But he determined to call me to greater things.  He determined to welcome me as I was, but refused to leave me there. "[He] chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him...."

I can't imagine what it would be like if I adopted these kids and never worked with them.  Never guided them toward growth.  It would be incomplete love.  But our Heavenly Father goes the distance.  "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion." Philippians 1:6.  I want to take deeper confidence in the truth that my Dad is pleased, even delighted in me, before I accomplished anything (or even said "I love you”).  But in the same breath I want to take deeper confidence in his determination to see me grow.  He will not leave me to wallow in the sins I struggle with, but he “leads me in paths of righteousness for his namesake,” Psalm 23:3.

If you're in Christ, take heart!  Your Father chose you before you earned a place in his family.  He picked you in his grace before you served him in any way.  Your salvation never depended on you, and so you're not powerful enough to mess it up.   

Take heart!  Your sanctification, your growth, that was his plan before it was yours.  You and I would willingly remain as we are, stimming sins and all.  But he loves us too much to allow it to be so.  "Holy and blameless" is the goal.  You can take heart that your Father is working patiently to bring you "on to completion."

In you're not in Christ, then there is an invitation.  Take heart!  You, too can be part of his family!  No past sin, failure, struggle, event can disqualify you. The only way to miss this Father's love is to stubbornly refuse his adoptive heart.  He's ready to bring more into his family, but it's a question of receiving it.  "But to all who did receive [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God...." John 1:12.  

We're eager to get these kiddos home.  We're eager to see them get proper nutrition, to get proper medical care, and ultimately to get more love. We're eager to see how the love of a family will transform them, just as God's adoption has transformed (and is transforming) us.