Over a year ago, I did something dangerous. I don't recommend you try this at home, unless you're ready for what will happen afterward. Over and over, throughout the winter of last year, I prayed that God would stretch me, take me out of my comfort zone and bring me to rely on Him alone. And He has. And He is.
"He must become greater; I must become less." John 3:10
In so many ways, God is stripping away what is me, what is comfortable. I can look a short ways behind me now, and I see how very much I have always relied on myself. If I couldn't see the end of the road, I would typically not step foot on it. But in God's answering my prayer for more unleashing of faith and total reliance on Him, He is calling me and my husband to step out into new places and agree to do more than we could possibly do on our own. It's a beautiful, raw, unbridled faith-testing, this going into the unknown. Each step along the way, God is using His Word as "a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path." And He is bringing precious travellers alongside us.
My eyes are opening daily to more and more need. It is everywhere, in this broken world we call home for now. The love of Christ for the orphan has taken root in my heart, and over the course of a few years of learning about what the Word of God says about orphans and what my responsibility is to them, I am digging deeper and deeper into the dark places of our world, asking the Holy Spirit to really let me see. At one time, I lived in my own world, enjoying my own "stuff" and giving my tithes and doing nice things as long as it didn't cost me my own comforts. I can't see what Jesus sacrificed for me, and see the hurting world around me, and continue to live for myself, though. It just isn't possible. Christ poured out His own blood for me, and I have never been worthy of what I cost him. How can I possibly see those needs around me and not consider them worthy of a cost to myself?
"But the king replied to Araunah, 'No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.'" 2 Samuel 24:24
God is revealing to my heart that there are many types of offering I can make to Him. My praise in the midst of trials. Money I set aside for something for me that I can instead use for someone else. Being afraid to fly over the ocean and getting on the plane anyway, to go where the Lord send us. The willingness to miss my babies for a week to shower a boy we consider family, and who misses his parents every single day of his life, with the love of a mom and dad.
What started as a heart for adoption, a heart for the orphan, is being grown into a heart more burdened by the brokenness in this world... into a heart that knows more about human trafficking and that many orphans wind up in sex slavery all across this planet and even in our nation, because they are easy victims of evil people in a hugely profitable industry... a heart that knows kids watch their parents die of AIDS, sometimes curled up beside them as they succumb to the horrible death AIDS inflicts on its victims, and then wind up heads of households at age 10... a heart that knows there are little babies and children living in this world with HIV who have no family and are considered nothing more than what, in our Lord's time, people considered the lepers - filthy, outcast, throw-away people, and that is not who they are or how God considers them... and I now know these kids can actually be adopted and with meds we have access to here, can live a normal life span. I am now aware that as my kids splash their summer days away in swimming pools and lakes, there are whole communities dying slowly from lack of clean water. I know there are little children with empty bellies, and they all have names and faces and stories. And God doesn't desire my guilt at having health and having food on the table and clean water to splash in, because it is the Lord who blesses us with these things. But He is clear in His Word that I have a duty, and He has given me a desire to act.
"Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the right of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." Psalm 82:3-4
"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy." Proverbs 31:8-9
Recently, as I'm drawn more in love with the children in our world and in our own country who are orphans, God is not allowing me to be content living with blinders on. I can feel my heart seeking out more understanding, and I'm asking God to give me His eyes and His heart and His strength.
As we prepare to go on our first trip to Eastern Europe, we ask you would be praying for us. The Lord is so faithful to guide us in the direction of His will. It's a huge gift from the hand of God Himself to be able to look our Sasha in the face and tell him he is worth the travel and that he is loved by us and by the Lord. That moment, and all the moments we will spend in his company, are an honor which I am humbled to be able to receive. There is not a single person on this earth I would rather meet than our Sasha. Not one. (There's not an 11-year old girl on the planet who wants to meet Justin Bieber any more than we want to meet Sasha!) I cannot tell you how moved my heart is that God is giving us this opportunity. Wow... am I ever going to be crying tears of joy!
I'd like to also express my deep thanks for all those (some I know well and others I've never met) who have invested of their time, prayers, finances, energy, and words of encouragement to us. We are going on this mission and bringing you all along in our hearts. We could not do this were it not for your participation, and God is using every single thing you are investing to not only bless us but to make a real impact on the children and caregivers we will be with this month and on children we are working toward supporting in the future. Your gifts are going to have eternal impact, and I am honored to watch your hearts in action.
Please pray that we would be able to accomplish all the Lord intends for us to do. The trip has grown by His grace into one that is allowing us opportunity to work on behalf of orphans in a number of different ways. I'm seeing how small my faith has always been, in light of what I'm learning now about growing in my faith to the point that I press in hard toward the unknown and the too-big and the I-don't-know-how.
"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin!" Zechariah 4:10