All of us have defining moments in our spiritual life and if you had to ask me what mine was, it would only take a millisecond for me to answer. Okay, well to START answering – my stories are always long!
It was a little over two years ago and, like so much of my spiritual growth, was part of our adoption journey. Tonight I stumbled across the e-mail I wrote to my closest circle of friends the day it happened. I’ve filled out more details, but here is one of my coolest God moments…
(Written December 10, 2007)
As Mark and I face what is basically one of the biggest decisions or our lives I have gone around and around with God and asked him to show us what he wanted us to do.
My normal response in these times is to “imagine” the outcome of the different decisions we might possibly make. And, because you know me well, you know that my imagination is quite active and I can travel down the road of “the future” quite a ways.
In the last several months he has definitely laid on both our hearts to care for orphans, we just weren’t sure how exactly he would have us do that. After much time and prayer we both decided that we felt a desire to adopt.
I say “desire” to set it apart from being “called.” We have had many discussions about the whole “calling” issue and have talked about the fact that sometimes God gives us a passion and a desire to do something and thus leaves it up to us to decide whether or not or how we are going to pursue a purpose tied to that desire. There are other times that he “calls” us to something and, well, you had best OBEY!
So while neither of us would say that we had been “called” to adopt at that point, we definitely desired to do that.
So, back to my “rounds” with God. Finally two weeks ago I basically told God “Whatever it is you want us to do…WHATEVER…just TELL ME and I (we) will do it.” I truly came to a place where I could say that I was willing to walk away from anything and everything in order to do what God wanted us to do. But there was a big emphasis on the “TELL ME” part of it.
In the past, Mark has talked often of “hearing” from God (not audibly but felt like he was given a thought, etc.) I cannot say that has ever happened to me, despite my wanting to, especially in this situation.
Through the process of our adoption research I had sent away for information from several different agencies, received packets in the mail, etc. Last Monday I received a DVD of waiting children from Ethiopia. Now, know that one of Mark’s concerns during this process was the whole idea of being matched up with a couple of kids by some random person (like God isn’t in control of that too – we know). So the idea of being able to see kids on video was definitely appealing.
I popped the DVD in late that night and quickly scrolled through the menu looking for a sibling group in the age range we had discussed (5-8). There were two.
I clicked on the first one with a 8 yr old boy and 6 yr old girl. Both of their parents had died and they are living with their grandmother who is sick and concerned about who will care for them when she dies. (Can you say “bawling like a baby”? Cuz that’s what I was doing at this point.) They answered some questions (asked by a translator but answered by them in English). They were VERY quiet and shy, the brother obviously nudging the sister here and there to get her to respond. I can only imagine what they were thinking through this whole process. Who knows what they had been told by their grandmother or the strange man with the camera.
The second sibling group was a 8 year-old-boy and 7 year-old-girl who were living in an orphanage. They had huge genuine smiles on their faces and were giggling. They did the same thing, answering questions, singing their ABC’s etc. Their voices were quite beautiful and it was easy to see that they were well cared for and happy.
If someone had asked me which sibling group seemed more appealing on the surface I would definitely have answered the second. Their personalities shined.
I called Mark over to watch the two pairs before he headed up to bed. In hindsight not the best timing but patience is not my strong suit. He didn’t have much response.
I went to bed that night, praying for both of the sibling groups and that God would watch over them and find them families, even if it wasn’t us. And, that if we were meant to adopt one of them that he would show us.
As that week wore on, my thoughts became clearly focused on the first group of siblings. It seemed that anytime I got in my van my thoughts immediately returned to them. (The fact that it was the first sibling group and not the more “bubbly” second group began to make me wonder if this was God telling me something.)
Last Friday I left the office to go grab some lunch. Again, as soon as I was settled in the van I began to think of these two children. I finally just asked the Lord “Are these the children we are supposed to adopt?” Almost before I could finish the question I heard “Yes.” Not audibly but somewhere in the core of my being. Then I said “Okay, well then you’re going to have to show Mark that as well.” Again, almost before I was finished I heard “I will.”
Wouldn’t you know the Lord keeps his answers short and sweet!
As I returned to work and set about working on some project, I wondered if I had imagined the whole thing. But it was so different than my usually “mind wandering of my own accord” type thing that I knew it was none other than God.
And, because he knows that I’m a little thick in the skull, he decided that I needed an extra dose to get my attention. That afternoon driving home with Natalie chatting away in the backseat, I exited the freeway and prepared to turn left. Over on the right side of the road was a pickup truck with a sign “Out of gas, out of food”….yadda yadda. And I felt God telling me to give them $20. As traffic moved, I switched out of my lane but at this point was past the truck with no place to pull over. I turned right and turned into the gas station at the corner only to realize that there was a big fence and about 30 yards separating me from them (AND it was raining). I said “this is ridiculous” and circled through the gas station to leave. Ha!
Before I could pull back onto the main road I felt God tell me again to stop and give them money. I pulled out and looked for some way to get to them but couldn’t find it. So I kept going straight…all the way under the freeway (about 200 yards from the corner by now). It was too hard to get to them. But man, he just wouldn’t let go and I heard it again. I made a u-turn to go back. At this point Natalie (5 at the time) pipes up “Mom, WHERE are you going?” I finally got back into the gas station and pulled up over by the fence. When I climbed out of my van and walked to the fence one of the men limped over to me. I gave him the money with a “God Bless”.
It wasn’t about the money. The money part was easy. It’s was the inconvenience. (Oh if I had only known how far out of my comfort zone he was going to pull me over the next two years.)
Wrestling score: God – 1 Julie – 0
Mark and I had a long talk that night. I was hesitant to share the whole experience because, in my doubts, wanted to see if God would place these two kids on his heart independently. But I keep feeling pushed to talk to him about it so I did, sobbing most of the way through.
It was that night that I learned what it feels like to listen to that still small voice inside me. Sometimes it is still hard to tell when it is my own will (and imagination) and when it is really God leading me toward (or away) from something.
Those two kids would, of course, be Luke (Wendemagegn) and Beza. It would be a little over a year later that we would bring them home and they would forever be part of our family.