Thursday, February 4, 2010

Trusting the Gift-Giver: Lessons from the Suitcase

Sunday's post was about prayer. Today I thought I'd share a little story that made me think differently about the things I pray for and how God answers. (This goes under the "Lessons from the . . ." series.) By the way, the photo above was taken this morning. Brad just returned from a business trip and the bedhead brothers were playing in his suitcase. They're too cute together.

I must preface this story by sharing that my dear sister last week said I gave her "emotional whiplash" because first she read Monday's funny post, then Sunday's sentimental post. She politely asked for some kind of warning in the future so I wouldn't leave her a hysterical mess as she started her day. Thus, I'll try to give a heads up if Kleenex is needed.

This post comes with a different warning. It may be too "female" for some male readers. My husband personally prefers to live in oblivion when it comes to female stuff which made for great fun in the delivery room and is quite entertaining to watch as his daughters go through puberty. Anyway, if any information is too much information, you might want to skip this one.

Quick background. We visited Daniel in Guatemala A LOT over our two and a half year adoption. (I think 16 times was our total.) Each time we had suitcases packed with goodies for him and other children at his orphanage. Usually I'd bring my personal belongings in my carry-on so I could take as much as possible to the kids. But when I arrived in Guatemala the day after Thanksgiving, I knew I might be there a while trying to finish our adoption and actually packed some of my own things in the Sampsonite treasure chest.

When we got to our hotel, Daniel excitedly opened the suitcases looking for treats. Unfortunately I had packed some feminine products that to my embarrassment he found before I had a chance to stash them. He saw the box of goodies beautifully wrapped in individual packaging and just knew it was something yummy. He begged for one. I told him that they were mine. He whined and pouted and begged some more. "Please!!!! Can I at least have one after dinner?"

I wasn't sure how to handle this. I could explain what these items were and scar him for life and he'd end up like his dad afraid to catch an accidental glimpse of his daughter's open purse or come within 10 feet of her bathroom.

I looked him in the eyes and as sincerely as I could muster said, "Daniel, sometimes I'm going to have to tell you no. And sometimes you're not going to understand why. At those times I need you to trust me that I know what's best. This is one of those times."

To my relief he put the "treats" down and said, "Okay."

After he went to bed that night, I reflected on what had happened. I wondered if God was trying to teach me something. You see, I had gone to Guatemala with one purpose . . . bringing Daniel home. And in my determination, I wasn't factoring the possibility that perhaps God had a different plan. Sitting before me was a gift that was perfectly packaged--a precious little boy coming home for his first Christmas. Why on earth would God not grant me that gift? But then I remembered "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways" (Isaiah 55:8, NIV).

Although I am instructed to "make my requests known" and "pray fervently", I also rest in knowing that if God tells me no, I must trust that His plan is perfect. As I chewed on those thoughts I got an e-mail from my attorney letting me know that there was an error on our certifications that would delay things a week. It was the first of many setbacks and roadblocks that we would encounter over the next six weeks. I needed the reminder that day to surrender to whatever God had planned--without whining, pouting, or questioning.

You know that the ending of this story and the answer to that prayer was to have Daniel home on Christmas Eve, but there have been times that I've prayed and begged and pleaded with God for something and the answer was no. I prayed for my mother to be healed of her cancer. I saw this gift with perfect packaging and thought of how much glory it would bring to God if he spared her life. I prayed for God to spare our Baby Luke's life. To breathe new life into our baby in the womb and bring others to understanding God's power. But God simply said, "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9, NIV).

So on that day last November, I replayed my words to Daniel, "Sometimes I'm going to have to tell you no. And sometimes you're not going to understand why. At those times I need you to trust that I know what's best. This is one of those times." And I realized I needed to lay my perfectly packaged wants on the altar and just say, "Okay."

Some day I'll tell Daniel the story of the forbidden goodies and he will turn all shades of red and laugh at how badly he wanted those feminine products. And some day I'll get to heaven and I'll feel foolish for wanting something so badly when God had a plan that was so much better.

From One Imperfectly Packaged Feminine Product,


Teri said...

Wow! I have to yet again tell you thanks for writing, I tell you, I seriously learn something each time from you. =) This is a great reminder. Thank you for sharing your story AND for this great parenting tip. As you know, I am a newbie mom (well kinda.. he is only 2) so am learning as I go. As common sense as your answer was to Daniel, I don't think I have ever said anything like that to Sammy. I am going to store this one away in my heart for just the right time in the future. Thanks again! =)

Mamita J said...

What a beautiful, true, funny lesson. I hope I trust God as easily as Daniel trusted you.


sierrasmom said...

What a great lesson to start my day ...with some great humor thrown in...just the way I like it!!!!