“Why do I so quickly forget the euphoria that often follows a time of intimate walking with Him through blackness? Do I not remember the ways in which those victories encouraged my heart to step out in faith and follow Him into the next unknown adventure?”
Scott and I are still just beside ourselves with joy over the news that we can now move forward with Lilyan’s adoption. But the reality of what we’re now facing is beginning to set in as the holidays draw to a close. We’ve already been through this process about twenty times. We know how hard it is—how consuming, how overwhelming, how exhausting. I woke up this morning, feeling almost paralyzed by the work ahead of us in the coming weeks as we try to compile all of the paperwork and raise all of the funds needed to make this child our daughter, while also continuing to run a non-profit for the other waiting orphans of the world; manage a household of nineteen; juggle the needs and appointments involved in raising many children with special needs; and school all of our school-age children.
I wanted to whimper and beg God for some kind of a shortcut this time. But I know what He’s calling us to do. And I know that I have to step out in faith and follow Him through this process again, one step at a time.
Additionally, no two adoption processes are exactly alike, and they all come with surprises—usually not good ones. Sometimes I feel weary of these surprises, and I wince at the thought of encountering more of them. I can’t see what’s ahead and I don’t know exactly what to expect.
These thoughts reminded me of something I wrote over two years ago. Here I am, two years later, still trying to learn the lesson God showed me that day. And it struck me that the beginning of a new year, as well as the beginning of a new adoption, is a good time to revisit this lesson. I’m posting this here today in case someone else is feeling a little afraid of the unknown as they follow God into 2014. He’s got this. I will try harder to listen to His voice and follow His loving instructions.
Learning to Be Guided
(Written November 2011)
“The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms…”
Yesterday my blind son, Colin, did something he had never done before. He climbed a tree. One of his brothers coached him as Colin tried to figure out how to even begin his ascent and then searched for hand- and foot-holds to support himself. I have to admit that I was just a little apprehensive about this, but Scott and I made the decision a long time ago to encourage our disabled children to reach for their dreams, and to do our best not to let our fear stand in their way.
My apprehension rapidly approached panic, however, when I realized that Colin had suddenly become fatigued and disoriented and couldn’t figure out how to get back down. Scott, my always-steady partner in this crazy life, calmly walked to the base of the tree and began giving Colin very clear instructions: “Colin, hold on with your left hand and slowly slide your right hand down the branch that you can feel under your elbow. Now let go with your left hand and move it down and slightly to your right until you find another strong branch just in front of you. Now lift your left foot and move it down behind you just a bit until you find where two branches meet. Slide your foot into that spot…”
Colin has always been a very strong-willed child. He came home to us with a fierce independence well established in his heart. This is probably much of what helped him survive his very premature birth in Bolivia with virtually no medical care and then his next two years in an orphanage, as he gradually lost all of his sight and his world became very dark. But this same independence often gets him into trouble when he fights against help that he sometimes needs in his journey to learn how to live blind in a sighted world. It proved to be a huge stumbling block for him when the Holy Spirit began to woo Colin and call him to accept God’s plan of salvation for his life. Colin resisted this for a couple of years until his heart could no longer carry the burden, and then one day during the summer of 2011, he literally grabbed our hands, began to cry, and exclaimed. “Mom, Dad! I feel like there is so much sin covering me that there is no way out. It’s like someone is just shoveling more and more dirt over me so that I’m not able to ever get out from under it! I’m ready to give this to God now.” Then he prayed to accept Christ as his Savior, and it was definitely one of the most beautiful and dramatic conversions I’ve ever witnessed.
Since that time, he has gotten better about accepting needed help from others, and watching him listen and trust and willingly follow each of Scott’s instructions while I stood under that tree and held my breath was actually pretty amazing. Colin had no idea how far off the ground he was. He had no choice but to trust the voice that was guiding him to safety—a voice that belonged to someone who could clearly see the path Colin needed to take but couldn’t see himself. His arms were trembling from fatigue, and part of me wanted my strong husband to jump into that tree and just try to carry Colin down. I’m so thankful that Scott stood his ground and insisted that Colin do this himself, trusting the voice of his father to rescue him. When he finally got to the point where he was hanging from his arms, and his legs were dangling just a few inches from the ground, Scott said quietly, “Now just drop to the ground.” Colin responded, “Are you sure?” I don’t know how far away the ground is.” And Scott said, “But I do. Just let go and drop.”
Colin’s first reaction when he hit the ground was intense nausea. This sometimes happens to blind people when they become severely disoriented, and he had to sit on the ground and pull himself together for a few minutes. Then, as we sat together discussing his adventure, he told me that he had dreamed often of climbing a tree and that actually doing it felt a lot like it had felt in his dreams—only scarier. Within a few minutes, he was feeling exhilarated by his accomplishment. Confident that he could trust his dad to help him if he got stuck again, he begged to repeat the climb. He said, “It won’t be so scary now that I’ve already done it once.”
He spent the next hour or so climbing around in the tree with his siblings, exploring a world that he’d only managed to find in his dreams before.
Yesterday, Colin grew a little stronger and moved a little further down the path toward whatever plans God has for an adopted, blind, American/Bolivian man in His world. And the bonding and trust between father and son grew even deeper.
There were so many powerful lessons for me in this incident. How often do I fear trusting God’s voice when I can’t see what’s under me or around me or ahead of me? Why do I ever doubt Him when He promises all through Scripture to guide me (Is. 48:17; 58:11), that His plans are to give me “hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11)?
Why do I so quickly forget the euphoria that often follows a time of intimate walking with Him through blackness? Do I not remember the ways in which those victories encouraged my heart to step out in faith and follow Him into the next unknown adventure?
How can I so quickly lose sight of His trustworthiness after I have watched Him prove to me over and over again that He knows how far I am from the ground, and that if I will trust Him when He says, “Just drop now…” then He will continue to make something beautiful of my life and my relationship with Him. He has already shown me in so many ways that His plans for me are more incredible than any life I could dream of for myself (Jer. 17: 7-10).
I thank God regularly for the lessons He teaches me through parenting my children, and as the end of this year approaches I am asking Him, one more time, to help me store up these lessons, remember them, and learn from them how to trust Him more and follow Him better in the coming year.