I didn't intend to write this tonight. I didn't intend to think this tonight. I didn't intend to ponder the possibilities of this tonight. I simply desired some quite reading time, and time away from my hubby who, by my own doing, frustrated me earlier and I was to proud to go apologize or discuss it, so I hid out in the basement doing laundry and trying to find something else to do, and in trying to find something else to do, my fingers skimmed the spines of the books on the corner bookshelf until my hand rested on one that I bought a few years ago, started once, stopped, started, stopped, never got anything out of it, and ultimately let the dust, which was now on my fingers, cover it.
But tonight I started reading it, the Sacred Romance-Drawing Closer to the Heart of God by Brent Curtis & John Eldredge. I had no preconceptions of what it would teach me or what I wanted to learn from it, other than I knew I wasn't ready to go upstairs, and I was in a reading mood, so might as well go for it.
Inside the first few chapters (I've read tonight till chapter five, which is a huge accomplishment for me in one sitting-I rarely do that, and because I'm such a visual learner, I read really slow trying to visualize each thing being described and discussed! So proud I stuck with it tonight!)...oh, to continue on after that mini-tangent-inside the first few chapters the authors discuss that Romance that most all of us have had. One of the authors describes it as a time as a child that he sat by a stream on his parent's farmland and listened to the orchestra of animals and nature and truly felt like something was alive in that moment. Other romances he described were those awe moments when we just know something or someone (God) is orchestrating everything, when there is good to be had, when there is joy and a sense of life! The reader is left at the end of the first couple of chapters to reflect on when those romantic moments were, how alive they felt, how much of a sense of completeness or excitement or that feeling of all-is-well in the world, the moments when we just know there is Someone higher in control and orchestrating our story.
The next subject that the authors approach is what they call the Message of the Arrows where they discuss the arrows of life-the hurts, tragedies, painful episodes, hard things to deal with. These are arrows in the romance. We can choose one of two paths-to become hardened to life due to all of these arrows, think that we are alone in them, become cynical because of them and live a life of fear of future arrows...or, we can embrace the Sacred Romance of our hearts and the story and journey He has for us.
Part of the arrows is the time in our life when we begin to start realizing that the world is telling us we cannot have this romance. This time of life when we begin to think more negatively, or the world is telling us something cannot be done, we can't accomplish that thing, we cannot ever be good enough, or that whatever it is won't work so why bother-play it safe, don't take risks. This applies to our Christian life as well-just go to church, do the service thing, do the prayer thing, do the devotional thing, commit to the everyday mundane tasks of being a Christian, but don't venture to quite fully accept what it is He might be trying to teach you, or just what exactly your story holds that He's trying to work in you.
And that's where I recognized an arrow...that latter part was describing me to some extent. Yes, I do the mundane Christian duties as I'll call them, but thankfully (and praisefully!) this has been a journey for me this last year of truly embracing what He's doing in me, letting Him use me and mold me, which at times has been painful, but remember: in order for Him to give new life, something must die. I must die to myself before I'll be able to let Him build me up again. This has been a hard and difficult thing to realize these last few months, but through being open and willing to be used, I have seen where being so low has enabled Him to be so high in my life.
Anyway, back to the arrow...so I after I finished chapter four, and gave myself a mini pat on the back for having stuck with the reading for an hour and a half, I began to pray silently to myself as I gathered the laundry and then made the bed and finished some evening chores, and during this time I began to ask myself what are some things that I have not done-what are some of those romantic things that I always thought God would orchestrate in me, or allow me to do/witness/see/experience that the world has stepped on and led me to believe it is not possible, so why even attempt letting Him work it out? And the answer: Adoption.
Alan and I have discussed adoption a lot, mainly because ultimately, we are all adopted by Christ as His sons and daughters. Secondly because we are called in scripture (James 1:27 for example). Thirdly is because our desire, and we believe God's desire for us, is to have a big family. God put adoption on our hearts first in serving His Word, and again when we discussed how Alan's parents were discussing adopting a little girls shortly before Alan's father passed away, and we have a heart to carry through that vision. But deeper, God put it on our hearts when we faced a miscarriage with our first "attempt" at having children of our own, and while trying again without knowing if we could even have children after that, literally brought me to my knees in prayer telling the Lord that if it was His will that we adopt instead of conceive, then I would glady accept that. But He remembered me, just as He remembered Sarah and Hannah, and blessed us with our son.
A number of months back, sometime in the cold of winter, I ventured with our new little bundle out to MOPS and listened to three women share their stories of adoption within their families, and was moved to tears. One of them gave us this handout that was called the 'Adoption and the Family Tree' that discuss the genealogy of Jesus, and the proceeds to discuss a tricky part: Joseph was not Jesus' biological father.
"There was no blood relation between the two of them. Jesus was born to Mary while she was still a virgin, and technically God Himself was Jesus' Father. At first glance it almost seemed like a mistake. After all, Shouldn't Jesus' earthly ancestry be traced through Mary, His only biological relative? ...And yet, the Bible traces Jesus' ever-important earthly ancestry through Joseph, his "adopted" father. And it uses that genealogy to point out the very important face that Jesus was descended from King David."
I also came back that day from hearing those women speak and talked to Alan about how I realized that adoption isn't necessarily meant for after we're done having our own children, and that if so, would our possibly someday adopted child think he/she was an after-thought? We decided then and there that if we did ever pursue adoption, it would be while still having our own children (Lord willing).
I have struggled from time to time with the whole thought of am I serving in certain areas because of the need in our church? Or because such and such put out such a plea for others to help that I eventually served out of guilt. Yes, we all would like to help with nursery, with youth group, with fellowship meals, with giving, with clean-up days, etc. But where is my heart truly focused to be used 100% (other than my ministry as wife and mother) that I feel called to do and not out of guilt or to fill a space, to which I then wouldn't truly be serving 100%? The only answer I can fill that with is with worship/tech team and adoption. I've questioned myself before if adoption for us would be out of obedience and the Lord's will, or out of our own self-righteousness to feel fulfilled because we "did our part to help the cause" so to speak, and at the heart of the issue-I have a longing, a passion, a deep desire to adopt. I have cried tears for the unadopted waiting to be adopted and have spent hours looked at Compassion children wondering who, if we could afford it, we would sponsor. I have a friend who desires to be a missionary to India. She has a heart for these people, loves the culture, and literally cries tears for wanting to be there, thousands of miles away from family and friends and all that is familiar to her for the joy of serving the Lord there. That's a romantic desire for the heart of God. That's how I feel about adoption.
So where's that arrow in all of this, you ask? Where did this romantic idea that God placed on my heart all these years, and more deeply in the last few years, where did it go? It got hardened to the fact that instead of choosing to embrace the romantic journey and story of adventure that adoption would add to our family and our experience in Christ, I began to believe the message of the arrows, the world telling me that we could never afford it-that we can't afford for Isaac, much less another child sometime, much, MUCH less afford an adoption. So we've put that dream on the back burner, and let it spark at least a conversation from time to time, but then we smother it out with things like "but now's not the time" or "we can't afford it now", thoughts like "we need to pay off our debts first"...and while yes, there is something huge to be said for being good stewards of our finances (which unfortunately and fortunately we are just now beginning to learn), is it ok to make that our deciding factor? Or do we take out the arrow and embrace the adventure of where adoption could take our little family?? Do we fully trust Him that if this is His will, then He will provide for all of our needs?
...Seems I have a lot to pray about, and perhaps now still isn't the right time, or that it's not the Lord's will for us anymore...I don't know...I can only pray, and at least try to embrace that romantic dream He placed in me years ago instead of just let the arrow stay in the flesh, listening to the world telling me it cannot or should not be done.