Friday, September 30, 2011

Empowering, Encouraging, Educating, Equipping

There’s a challenging balance between educating pre-adoptive families and scaring the heck discouraging them.  I often times wonder how much to share myself.  There’s definitely an amazing adoption movement going on in the US right now, and I, for one, think it’s awesome.

There are lots of ministries popping up here and there, many aimed at helping adoptive families, which I think is awesome and so very needed.  What I don’t like is when someone (either an individual or a group of a ministry) discourages someone else from adopting when God has clearly called him/her to adopt.

Things like…

How will you take care of everyone?

Aren’t your hands full as it is?

What about your other kids?

How can you possibly give each child the love they need and deserve?

What about yourself?  How are you going to have “me” time?

Don’t you think you’re in over your head?

It looks like the kids you have already have enough “problems”?  Why do you want to add to that?

How do you plan to provide for so many kids?

When will you realize that you can't save them all?

Haven’t you ever heard of family planning?

The truth is that God is the One who plans our families.  His Word tell us that children are a gift of the Lord, a delight, a blessing from Him.  He says that blessed is the man whose quiver is full of children.  No where in God’s Word does He give advice or commands about limiting the number of children we have. 

God’s Word also clearly commands us to care for orphans.  Numerous times.  There’s no mistaking how God feels about orphans.

So, when you put those two concepts together, that children are a blessing and orphans are to be treasured, why then should anyone on this earth criticize large adoptive families?  (Or just large families in general?)

I personally believe that if God calls you to adopt, it shouldn’t be up for others to judge.  (God’s Word also clearly states how He feels about people judging others.)  God will equip those He calls, and our obedience to Him should matter more than our concern over what others might think/say.

I have to share from personal experience, that we were clueless with our first adoption.  God called us to adopt an older child (11 years old), who had been through more than we could fathom, who would have to leave older siblings behind in her birth country, who couldn’t speak English, and, yes, we were totally unprepared.  (We thought we were prepared, but nothing could have prepared us for our first adoption journey.)  But, guess Who did prepare us?  GOD!  The very One who called us to that journey to begin with!  Was it easy?  No.  Was it worth it?  Yes.

In fact, with all of our adoptions, God has actually used our naivety in order to accomplish His will.  If we had known what we were committing to, we probably would have disobeyed God’s call numerous times!  It would have seemed too much, too hard, too complex, too exhausting, but God knew that we would struggle with obedience had He shared ahead of time what we would go through with each child, so, instead, He allowed us to stay naïve enough to be obedient.  After He received our wholehearted obedience, He slowly unraveled what we would have to face with each child, but He never left us to do this job alone. 

He’s always been right by our sides, empowering us, encouraging us, educating us, and equipping us. 

Through all of this, He is shaping our hearts to look just a wee bit more like His, to have a better understanding of seeing His children through His eyes, to lessen our desire for easy, to gain strength as we embrace hard, for that is what our Father does in ALL circumstances.  And our greatest desire is to be more like Him.  Oh, there’s so much to learn through the blessings of adoption, most of it that I never knew I needed to know, nor could I have learned without walking this path alongside Him.  I could have read about it in books and on blogs (which I did and still do), but nothing would have actually circumcised my heart the way He has (and continues to do) as He leads me faithfully along this path. 

Which brings me to something I feel very strongly about:  If there’s an individual or ministry out there discouraging you from adopting, and God has clearly called you to adopt, I boldly ask you to disregard this so-called earthly “wisdom” and simply obey God’s calling.  Your heart will never be the same.  And that’s a good thing.

Now, if you’re adopting for any other reason than because God asked you to, then I think it is wise to seek the counsel of adoption-friendly pastors, experienced adoptive friends, as well as adoption ministries.  Make sure you seek the counsel of those who truly understand God’s heart for the orphan as well as those who value children and believe they are a blessing, as this is what aligns with God’s Word.

It is important for you to know that adoption is not for the faint of heart, there will be many challenges, trials, and tribulations, but there’s nothing too much for God.  Ever.  And when you seek His guidance, His wisdom, His training, His strength, He will empower you, encourage you, educate you, and equip you, for He is faithful.  He may choose to empower you through the earthly wisdom of a ministry, encourage you through another adoptive family or friend, educate you through a book, and equip you as you study His Word and seek His face, but no matter how He chooses to do His work in you, it's so important for you to know and firmly believe that He will NEVER forsake you.  Ever.

And I believe He will never forsake the orphan either.  Yes, there are a rising number of disrupted adoptions, but even so, I personally believe God is able to redeem that.  "And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)   Even through disrupted adoptions, God can work in the hearts of the family who must disrupt, He can work in the heart of the child whose adoption is being disrupted, and He can work in the hearts of the child’s new family.  For when we are weak, He is strong, and when we are broken, we are totally reliant upon Him to fix us.

This might shock some of you, but I firmly believe that it is better for an orphan who lives in an abusive/neglectful situation to be adopted by an unprepared family who courageously answers His call, even if it ends in disruption, than to remain living in the pits of hell.  Yes, I do.  I firmly do.  I’ve visited those pits of hell, and, believe me, I’d want someone to rescue me.

Don't ever forget that we must depend upon God to empower us, encourage us, educate us, and equip us.  Often times, He offers support and wisdom through His people and ministries on earth, but, in the end, it is His Word that is plentiful, His grace that is sufficient, His strength that is mightiest, and His love that is never-failing.

“I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.”  John 14:18

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