"Be that as it may, my Father knows best, and I'm confident that He has placed me here; my task is to labor quietly until the pillar cloud removes and leads farther, working out God's purposes in God's time." -Jim Elliot


Loss, Grief, Redemption

Social Welfare Institute of Pingxiang City (Selah's orphanage)
Many people imagine Gotcha Day in a deeply romantic way.  The parentless child finally gets a family.  The sun shines, the birds sing, and the child runs into their new parents' open arms.  Everyone is happy, and the child is saved from this horrible life.  That's how most people imagine it.  But ponder for a moment if you were suddenly taken from your home and everything you have ever known, without any real input, and suddenly deposited in an African village with a family.  Everything in your life has changed.  The sights, sounds, smells, language, all the way down to your name.  Even if you were totally prepared for it, and you knew it was a good thing, it would be hard.

When we bring Selah home, she will be grieving the loss of everything she has ever known.  Really the only things she will have that are the same as the last day in the orphanage will be the gifts we sent her ahead of time.  We are preparing ourselves for the realities of Gotcha Day, and that the following days/weeks/months are probably going to be really hard for all of us emotionally.

CJ Mahaney shared in a sermon more about these realities of adoption.  He shared about a family who had adopted two boys out of an orphanage in Russia.  Conditions there were horrid: they were not fed regularly, they only got diaper changes once or twice a day, and they received minimal care overall.  Yet when their new parents drove away, the kids were screaming in terror and reaching back for the orphanage.  When I read the book of Exodus, I used to get puzzled by how the Israelites longed to go back to Egypt after they had been set free.  Now I understand better, they were just released from bondage and slavery, but the unknown future was more frightening than their known past.

What changes things in the heart of the adopted orphan is the work of God's love through the hearts of the ones adopting.  As her adoptive parents, we know that we are going to put her through something harder than most of us could imagine.  We could spare her the hardship, but she would never know the love of a family.  We love her, and we know that in the long run it is the best thing for her.  Our goal is not to take everything away from her.  Not everything in her life is bad.  She has friends, she has people who care about her, she has a place to live, she has her basic needs met.  There is nothing wrong with her language, the smells, the sounds, or her name.  But we have something to give her that she can't receive there, and in order for her to receive it, she has to lose everything else.  Our job as her parents is to love her and give her what she would never receive otherwise.  We also intend to give her back much of what she had before, in a new form.  We want to be a part of God redeeming her life.  She will lose everything she has, but she will be loved and have everything she needs restored.

The scary thing about following Jesus is that it isn't about changing a few things.  It isn't that we have to go to church on Sunday morning instead of sleeping in, or that we are supposed to give away some of our money.  It isn't that we stop saying bad words or doing bad things.  To follow Jesus means to die, to lay down our all in exchange for the love of our Father.  Everything is changed, everything is made new, everything is a gift from the One who gave His all to make us His children.  And I know that I tend to be the child screaming in terror and reaching back towards a squalid orphanage because I don't always trust the love of my Father who seeks to take me away to something better.  I often think the hardest part about being an American Christian is that I'm allowed to keep so many of the things that my Father wants me to leave behind.  I keep putting my orphan clothes back on, and walking around like I'm still back in the orphanage. But I know my Father loves me, and I seek to grow in my love for Him and my trust in His love for me.  I am growing in my understanding that I need to lose everything like Selah is going to do, so that I can fully enjoy the life my Father has for me. As Matthew 16:25 says, "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

In a few weeks we will be going to China so that we can bring Selah home.  We get to literally be a part of God redeeming her.  The only thing that we have to offer her is the love God has put in our hearts, but by God's grace, this love will be worth her losing everything.  And the only reason that we can offer her this love, is because we have been loved, redeemed, and adopted by Him. "See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1)

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