Monday, May 13, 2013

On Faith

In my last post, I mentioned how much I enjoyed reading the autobiography of Amy Carmichael called A Chance To Die. The story of her life showed countless examples of God's perfect provision in His perfect timing as she modeled a child-like faith in the midst of financial difficulties and challenging circumstances. Here's a few more of her thoughts on faith that have both challenged and encouraged me as we are beginning our newest adoption adventure! I pray they do the same for you...

Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them.

Questions about finances were asked again and again. 
Again and again Amy stated her position: 
Our Heavenly Father knows what we need and gives it to us. 

Nor Scrip, Amy's sixteenth book, was just off the press. Meant for "the innermost circle of friends," it told how God continually sent money to the Family, at the right time and in the right amounts. It was no surprise to her that, upon publication of an account of divine provision, 
faith should come under fire on that very front
Financial supply dwindled as the work expanded. The supply of workers was critically short. 

"Naturally, there were some pressure" - the understatement of the year, encompassing the thousand anxieties of the huge responsibility, the what ifs, the buts, the whys, the help-Thou-mine-unbeliefs. She had to live in the middle of this, to go on making decisions, leading the prayer meetings, writing her letters and her books and her journals, bearing on her mind and in her prayers the name of each individual child...

When the disciples returned from their apostolic travels the Lord asked them, "Did you lack anything?" Their answer was, "Nothing." Would Amy Carmichael give any other answer? She would not. 

If she had responded naturally, she would have had to say, "Yes, Lord. Money. Workers." God had promised to supply all needs
On that word, not on the sands of self-confidence, she built her house...

Each time Amy Carmichael received money, she always asked the Lord how it should be spent. She asked, and she listened. The obvious need didn't always dictate the call, nor did it always make sense, but she obeyed His call, regardless of what anyone else thought. Her eyes were simply on Him and on eternity.

When there was a financial need, I'm challenged by both her patience and her determination. I especially admire how she involved her children in the process. I think, so often, as parents we shield our children from seeing our own places of weakness and need. We are so concerned with their feelings of security and comfort that we actually do them a disservice by not letting them see the many ways the Lord is working on our behalf. I want our children to witness our faith in action. I want them to see how our Father provides for us, and I want them to grow up knowing Who it is they can depend on! To know that He is Faithful, they need to see the very real ways that He faithfully hears, answers, and supplies our needs.

They prayed, then, for the money. They did more than pray. The children sent notes to Amy:

1.   We won't waste soap, and put the soap to dissolve in the
     water or sun.   
2.   We won't put our saris to the white ants, and we will try to            
     keep our see lies without tearing.
3.   We will keep our lantern chimney without breaking, and we    
     won't put our lantern on the floor.
4.   We won't give our food to the crows and dogs and we won't   
     spill our milk.
5.   We will try not to spill oil.
6.   We will try to keep our buckets carefully and not bang our      
     buckets and crack them.
7.   We will try to keep our pumps without breaking, and try to     
     pump carefully.

They did work. They dug, they carried lime and sand. 
Prayers were answered. Money came.
"Each gift has its story," Amy wrote.

Grace in teaspoons would have sufficed for a preaching tour. 

It is honorable to preach. Ditchdigging lent dignity to nobody. Grace in rivers was required for this. Day by day they grew in manliness.

Each gift has its story. Each way He provides is a testament of His faithfulness. The story He is writing for our family includes a new chapter. Yes, it's about our second adoption, and right now the plot has thickened to include some financial uncertainties. But, even more, it's about the work He's doing in our hearts. In this chapter, we are learning how to look to Him to meet our needs. We are coming to know Him more as our Father who knows just what we need and will always, always provide what it best. He is using this adoption journey to bring us to our knees in a place of humility and utter dependance on Him. As we are trusting Him to provide the ransom for our Little Girl with Feet that Don't Move, we can rest assured that every single bit of this story is meant to reveal His glory and reflect His faithfulness. Even the parts that are hard. Even when it doesn't make sense. Even when the numbers don't add up. The story is good because the One writing the story is good. 

We are looking to Him and asking Him for the money we need because, quite honestly, we don't have what we need. Not even close. I made reference to this in an earlier post, but within a week of signing commitment papers for our little girl, our financial situation significantly changed. In many ways, our faith came under fire, and we are truly learning what it means to trust our Father to provide just what we need. We are learning how to ask for daily bread. We are learning to let go of our pride. We are learning to do with less. We are learning when to be patient. We are learning when to act. And we are challenged to fully offer up the gifts, talents, blessings, opportunities, and things that He has given us to be used for this cause, His cause - bringing this precious little one home.

While we wrestle with the unknowns and the uncertainties {of which there are many}, this does not mean we stop moving. There is work to be done. In fact, some very important clearances that were not expected to come back for at least another month were returned late last week, and this means that we are much closer than anticipated to completing our home study and moving along to the next stage of the process - immigration approval. We celebrated this exciting and surprising news, but also realized what it meant: our next big adoption payment is almost due. So, we keep praying and asking Him to provide, and we continue to do the work He has put in front of us as we begin our fundraising efforts.

I've seen videos of our Little Girl with Feet that Don't Move, and her feet are literally stuck. I've watched as she used her tiny hands to pick up her own feet to move them. Lately, I've had my own small glimpse of what that must be like. It's so easy to become paralyzed by despair, fear, and doubt. It's easy to become so overwhelmed with the long list of things that need to be done that I become, like her, unable to move. But, thankfully, we have a Father in Heaven who holds us by the hands, lifts us off our feet, and calls us to take that next step. Her feet can't move, but ours can. By the faith that He is growing in us and the grace in rivers that He is pouring through us, we will move forward with this precious little one's adoption. 

As I'm sitting here typing this just now, my husband {the golf instructor} has turned into a ditch-digging, fence-building, menial labor workman to earn a little extra money. Lately, when he's not helping his students with their golf swings, he's sweating, getting dirty, and rubbing blisters on his hands, all to help bring our newest little girl home. I am so proud of him and thankful for his willingness to work hard. I know the Lord is providing this work for Will, giving him unique opportunities to use his gifts and talents for Kingdom purposes. Not only has it been a financial blessing for our family, it's also been a way for our boys to be involved in this adoption adventure. They've worked side by side with their dad, seeing him walk out his faith in a very tangible {and dirty} way! Grace in rivers is required, and that very grace is being given. 

Along with Will's landscaping work, we have quite a long list of fundraising ideas. On the forefront, we have t-shirts already printed that hopefully will be posted soon, and we have the date for our first big yard sale coming up in just a few weeks. Will has another crazy item that he's in the process of making to sell as Father's Day gifts, and we are also sorting through many things in our closets and attic that we can sell on e-bay and consignment shops to help raise the necessary funds for our adoption expenses.

There are so many ways that YOU can be involved, and we would welcome your ideas. If you live close by and have items that you would like to donate to our yard sale, please e-mail me, and I can give you more details. You can play a part in this mission by trading in some of your earthly treasures to help ransom a heavenly one. Also if you need some landscape work done, my man is the man to call. He builds fences, tree houses, play forts, pergolas, and a host of other things, and he's incredibly talented at helping people have a vision for what their yards can become. Maybe you have another creative idea or a craft that you think we could sell to help with our fundraising. I'd love to hear from you and would be most grateful for your input and suggestions! 

Mostly, we ask for your prayers. The spiritual warfare surrounding our family has intensified greatly just in these past few weeks. Like Amy Carmichael said, it really should come as no surprise. The Enemy does not want these little ones chosen. He wants to stop these processes from moving forward and what better way than to put financial barriers in the paths of adoptive families. We appreciate your prayers more than you could ever know. 

A little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in little things is a very great thing.

Here are more little ones I am lifting up in prayer tonight. Will you join me?
Will you open your eyes to see these precious hearts longing to be loved?

Open your eyes and look at the fields!
They are ripe for harvest.
Jesus of Nazareth
John 4:35

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