It amazes me how much I can learn about my relationship with my Heavenly Father through my relationship with my children. Most of these lessons are convicting and humbling. All make me grateful that I serve a God of goodness and mercy.
For example, my children are off-the-charts delightful human beings yet they have certain behaviors that make my hair stand on end, cause that vein on my forehead to bulge, and make me grit my teeth like someone is trying to remove a bullet from my buttocks with a pocket knife. So, if you catch me looking like the Bride of Frankenstein, most likely one of the following has happened:
A) I have found a lunchbox under my child's bed that has been missing for several weeks . . . and the lunch is still in it.
B) I have found clothing, that I have just washed and folded with love, mixed in with stinky dirty clothes.
C) I have a child who is exhibiting no sense of urgency when we are in a hurry or is not obeying the first time asked.
Although A has happened once (that I know of), and B does on occasion, it is C that seems to be the most frequent thorn in my postpartum flesh.
Often these acts are not willful. An instruction to brush teeth and hop in the bed can be embellished by hugging the cat, smelling a new candle, fogging up a window with their breath then writing their name in it, and doing a few cartwheels on the way. Although I'm a major advocate for "stopping to smell the roses/candles" at the appropriate times, this kind of dawdling conveys a message that they view what they want to do as more important than what we have asked them to do.
Sometimes they move in slow motion simply because they don't want to obey. They can be quite creative in their attempts to delay. Often my second and third request is followed by the dreaded, "In a minute!" or "Okay, okay." Sometimes they admit they were tuning us out with, "I didn't hear you." But every incident shows a lack of respect for our authority. A disregard for others' time. The by-product of that disobedience is that others have to wait on them or they end up missing out something because of the wasted time.
The person in our home who is the guiltiest of not having a sense of urgency . . . is me. Many times my Heavenly Father has asked me to do something and I took my sweet time obeying. I've developed a "spiritual attention deficit" in regards to my relationships, with my finances, with my marriage and parenting, and with my witnessing opportunities. But the primary area that I've shown an utter lack of urgency and shameful disobedience was in regards to adoption.
I've known since I was a little girl that I was called to adopt. Brad and I knew before we were married that this was His plan for our life. Yet it took 15 years of marriage before we actually started the process to adopt. Fifteen years of saying, "Okay, okay" and "In a minute." Fifteen years of being busy with things that had no eternal value. Fifteen years using excuses that our home was too small, or we couldn't afford it, or we had too much going on. Perhaps it wasn't God's time in our early years of marriage for us to adopt, but there was still so much more we could have been doing to care for orphans by helping others pay for their adoptions, through child sponsorship, and through missions giving and trips.
In August of 2007 we found out that a little boy in Guatemala needed a family. We had our mental list of reasons to justify delaying our obedience to answer God's call. But the months prior, we had felt such conviction that we had been viewing James 1:27 as a suggestion, when it clearly is a command. That we were guilty of not obeying the first time and dishonoring God with our lack of urgency. God's instructions are so clear, but we didn't want to hear, didn't want to know, didn't want to be accountable. Had we not felt that conviction three years ago, we would probably still be waiting for "the perfect time" to adopt.
But I don't think we fully understood the depth of our sin in this area until we saw firsthand the crisis of 147 million orphans. Just like my kids like to compare their casual disobedience with other's blatant rebellion ("Mom, at least I'm not doing. . . ."), I had my own self-righteous denial at play--caring for others who were easy to care for, committed to service that required little sacrifice.
The by-product of that disobedience is exactly the same as it is with my children. That others have to wait on me and I miss out on the blessing that God has planned because of the time I wasted.
Once I saw who had been waiting, I was overcome with regret and repentence. I saw infants crying in their cribs with no one to hold them, toddlers and preschoolers calling me mama because I was the only "mom" there to love on them that day, elementary age children who just wanted someone to tell them they were special, and teens that showed me that you're never too old to need a mom and dad. I look at Daniel and think how close we were to missing out on the blessing that he is because adopting an older boy into our family just wasn't "practical."
The other day I read a post called "While We're Waiting" (click on the title to read) that I want to share. It's written by an adoptive mother of 9 named Amy Block and beautifully illustrates who must wait for us when we show no sense of urgency to answer God's call to care for orphans.
I haven't had a chance to post a Sunday Dinner in a while, but my verse for this week is certainly:
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
James 1:27, NIV
This short to-do list from God may involve different things for different people. We may not all be called to adopt, but every single Christian is instructed to care for orphans and widows. And, folks, we need to obey with urgency.
And here's the funny thing. Once we started to obey God the first time, we saw a significant improvement in how our children obey us.
One of the questions we get a lot as we have started this new adoption is "Why would you want to adopt another child so soon after bringing the last one home?" (Many thought we were nuts with the first adoption, so we must really look crazy now.)
There are many answers. But perhaps the only one that matters is, "God has commanded us to care for orphans and we've finally learned to obey the first time He asks."
P.S. Thanks to all you precious bloggy friends for the comments of support and encouragement with my last post. I love the suggestions to deal with my fear of flying! There's lots going on that I can't share about just yet. I'll keep you posted.