When we have any baby/wedding showers in our church, we always have something called a “charge” for the new mom/wife. This “charge” is simply meant to be a word of encouragement for the person of honor and just a time to praise the Lord for His goodness in the upcoming event. We recently had a baby shower for my sister, Jill and my sweet nephew Banner. My sister’s family began their adoption journey in April of last year, and we got to celebrate a completed adoption last month. I got the honor of writing Jill’s charge. I barely ever find time to write on here anymore, but because I know so many people who have, or are going through adoption I wanted to put this out here as an encouragement to all of you as well or really anyone facing a tough task ahead. Adoption is a whirlwind, as anyone who has been touched by it can attest to. I hope that in this letter you see yourself in some way and that the Lords glory is made that much more beautiful to you. We serve a great God, a very present help in trouble. He is worthy of all praise, even when our plans fall through and the outcomes seem to be ones we felt were not in our best interest. Although we truly did get to celebrate at the end of this journey, that does not mean that this journey was not wrought with some hard and steep twists and turns. So I hope this is relevant to your heart today. I hope you see your self being burned away and Christ coming all the more clearer because of it. I hope that in the midst of your trials that you don’t forget, that a child of God never suffers or struggles in vain. That there is goodness in the storm if we only seek to find it. May you continue to become more like Christ, and with every unexpected turn, may you praise God, come what may.
As I was teaching the Associative Law of addition and multiplication in class the other day, I looked at it and thought, well that kinda reminds me of Jill. The Associative Law is orderly, pretty symmetrical (at least for the parenthesis), predictable, and pretty fun to work out. It touches us deeply (well some of us) in a place of, if I do this this way I can trust completely that the outcome will be what is promised. Now, why am I talking about math, you may ask. Well, one reason is because you, Jill, enjoy crazy nerdy things like that! You grow, thrive, and delight in order, predictably, symmetry and the thrill of working out a really good life problem. Yet another reason is, adoption, at first glance, holds absolutely none of these characteristics that your personality is so comfortably attuned to. And yet years ago, the Lord placed the desire of adoption inside your head, a desire that went against all your comforts and somewhat against how he specifically made you. He placed that desire inside of you with Banner already thought of and planned out. It really is magnificently mind numbing if you really think about it. Before time began, Banner was already yours.
Adoption, we know, is a beautiful depiction of the gospel. A visual of how the Lord grafts us into His family. Depicting how He transforms sinners, who are His enemies, into daughters and sons! Yet also, much like salvation, adoption depicts the complete lack of control we have and the complete power that God has to wield to accomplish His good works. Adoption is not necessarily orderly, it can be messy, heart wrenching, and confusing. It lacks symmetry, you could put in hours of phone conversations and effort into building re pour with women in need, trying to comfort them, encourage them and share the gospel with them with the full knowledge that your input may very well not yield an equal output. And, if the lack of symmetry in effort was not enough to cause someone to quit all together, adoption could look like it is sorely lacking in the predictability department as well, for plans fall through, birth moms stop calling, and birth dad’s names show up on registries. However, as believers, we know that God providentially works throughout every moment of our lives, that he is in control, that He will bring about his promise in His own orderly way, and that His people are to “be still” and know that He is God. The adoption process is truly and somewhat simply a walk of faith, and we know that through trials and tribulations our faith only grows.
As we talked on the phone during this entire process, the key theme of our conversations was the idea of control, more specifically the lack of control you had over the situation at any given moment. The greatest of this testing of faith was the last few weeks. It was in these last months that there were no more forms to fill out, actions to take or knowledge to be learned to further the outcome you desired. You were in a place that your orderly and predictable personality could hardly bear, with a treasure that now made that need to have a promised outcome an extreme necessity. You had to quietly wait for the unknown outcome with this sweet baby strapped to you. It is in these dark moments where your faith is tested and all those bible verses about anxiety become truly real and hard but thankfully soul satisfying. You were called to the painful and chaotic act of truly being still. I was encouraged by your response when others simply said “don’t worry, it will all work out fine” you were quick to point out that we were never promised “fine”, Banner truly could have been taken back. You knew, biblically, our “fine” could possibly not be what God considered “fine”. We all held on to the truth that “God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Yet, we did not cling to this as a promise of Banner staying, but as a promise that an all wise God would do what he knew was best for Banner and for us.
It was in this time that the struggle seemed most crushing, that the Lord was conditioning your heart to look at something so very precious and simply become like Christ, taking on his heart’s desire, “Not my will, but yours be done.” I believe that a heart that truly utters and surrenders to this desire is one that has been most refined by the hottest of fires. The truth that our sanctification is key, shines the brightest when God reminds us what all these refining moments are for when he says “for those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son”, your mindset was being conformed to Christ’s and that miraculous knowledge is why James can truly state that we should “Consider it pure joy , whenever we face trails of many kinds because we know that the testing of our faith produces perseverance”….and that we should “Let perseverance finish its work so that we may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Obviously, this journey was filling in something you were lacking, you are in some areas, more mature and complete than you were before any of this started. You are more like Christ today than you were in April when this all began. What a gift you have been given!
I know you would be humble enough to admit that in the quite moments of fear and anxiety, God was having to transform your heart to be quick to surrender to His will, in an unflinching trust. I love how John Bloom puts it when he says “Just like Christ in the garden, our spiritual desire should be that our human desire be submitted to God’s desire, for Jesus trusted that the Father’s desire would result in the greatest good for the greatest glory of the triune God and the greatest joy possible for all Saints.” This Adoption was not just at times a seemingly disorderly and unpredictable journey to meet the son created for you from the beginning of time, but it was most importantly a vehicle for God to receive the greatest glory! We will never know the amount of work God was doing outside our own circles for His glory, we may never know until eternity. But we do know that He took your heart, that thrives on rhythms and the joy of knowing how to work out the problem to its completion, and He submitted it to His unknown will, come what may. Your display of submission and surrender highlighted the power of the Spirit that resides within you, the magnificence of the change that Christ’s sacrifice has wrought in you, and the love of a Father who ordained it all. What a call to worship! This adoption has made us all come to a posture of worship. . . grande and pure and lovely worship of an all knowing, all wise and unchanging God. When we look at Banner today and rejoice that our desires were also God’s desires, we are utterly thankful, which is so weak an expression but true none the less. We look at that little sweet face and are given a call to exalt God. Not just because in his providence he seemed to move mountains to accomplish his will, but that he also was so mindful of us to want to refine His people to look more like His son in the process.
As you enter into another glorious season of diapers, bottles, first words and first steps, my prayer for you (and for all of us) is that you will not forget who ultimately controls the outcomes of your life. That in your obedience, you continue to submit your heart to the will of God, as Christ did for us, so that His glory will be of utmost importance. Banner’s life should always be a celebration of the fact that our hearts may plan our ways, but the Lord (graciously) directs our steps. His Will will be done, and we know that beautiful saying that you love to quote from A. W. Tozer which is “Outside the will of God there’s nothing I want. Inside the will of God, there’s nothing I fear.” May we all go forth, with submitted hearts, and unflinching desires to praise God’s goodness come what may.