Thursday, December 14, 2017

feats and defeats {the why behind these words}

For many years, I have loved the wisdom and writings of Charles Spurgeon. Next to the Bible, his devotional, Morning and Evening, has been a constant companion of mine, and this particular passage is where the inspiration came from for the name of this blog, Faith's Feat.

When I began writing here, my hope in sharing publicly about our adoption journey included the desire to spread the word about our fundraising efforts, to be an advocate for children who were waiting and voiceless like S and Faith Ana, and, most of all, to proclaim the Lord’s faithfulness. I only had the slightest inking, then, of the profound ways the Lord would use these words in my life.

In seasons of severe trial, the Christian has nothing on earth that he can trust to, and is therefore compelled to cast himself on his God alone. When his vessel is on its beam-ends, and no human deliverance can avail, he must simply and entirely trust himself to the providence and care of God. Happy storm that wrecks a man on such a rock as this! O blessed hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone! There is no getting at God sometimes because the multitude of our friends; but when a man is so poor, so friendless, so helpless that he has nowhere else to turn, he flies into his Father's arms, and is blessedly clasped therein! When he is burdened with troubles so pressing and so peculiar, that he cannot tell them to any but his God, he may be thankful for them; for he will learn more of his Lord than at any other time. Oh, tempest-tossed believer, it is a happy trouble that drives thee to thy Father! Now that thou hast only thy God to trust to, see that thou puttest thy full confidence in Him. Dishonour not thy Lord and Master by unworthy doubts and fears; but be strong in faith, giving glory to God.

Show the world that thy God is worth ten thousand worlds to thee. Show rich men how rich thou art in thy poverty when the Lord God is thy helper. Show the strong man how strong thou art in thy weakness when underneath thee are the everlasting arms.

Now is the time for feats of faith and valiant exploits.

Be strong and very courageous, and the Lord thy God shall certainly, as surely as He built the heavens and the earth, glorify Himself in thy weakness, and magnify His might in the midst of thy distress. The grandeur of the arch of heaven would be spoiled if the sky were supported by a single visible column, and your faith would lose its glory if it rested on anything discernible by the carnal eye. May the Holy Spirit give you to rest in Jesus...

When the Lord opened our hearts to the plight of the orphans and abandoned children in Bulgaria and, specifically, called us to adopt S and then a year and a half later to return and adopt Faith Ana, this felt like a gigantic feat of faith for our family. Their adoptions were an exciting and overwhelming adventure that we were both humbled and thrilled to be a part of. We read, researched, prepared, and did everything we possibly could to get ready for these newest additions to our family. These adopted daughters, both with their own unique and special needs, were two of the most profound and life-changing gifts the Lord has ever blessed our family with. However, we never could have imagined the story that would unfold in our lives and no amount of education could have prepared us for the journey that that we were beginning.

Over the next five years, we walked down a very difficult, hard, and lonely path. As the pages turned and the chapters unfolded, our story did not turn out like we hoped, imagined, or prayed it would. In a recent post entitled "Dissolution: Black, White, and Shades of Grace," I wrote these words that share my heart about adoption. You can read the post in its entirety by clicking here.

Adoption is the gospel in action. 

It's a sacred and beautiful process that the Lord uses to reflect His pursuit of us. We are orphaned and abandoned children in need of His rescue. He pays the ransom, no matter the price. He comes for us, even when we are far off. He accepts us as His very own children, and then He welcomes us into His family. Forever. We are His. This is adoption, and this is also the gospel. 

Adoption is also a way for us as followers of Christ to be obedient to His call to defend the fatherless. It's a way to grow our families and spread the love of Jesus to those most destitute. It's a beautiful picture story that illustrates the very heart of our Father.

Adoption is hard, holy, good, and right, but it is not a perfect solution. 

Just as we live in a fallen and broken world, we, as adoptive parents, are fallen and broken individuals. The children we have welcomed into our homes have experienced unimaginable abuse and trauma, often to a degree that is inconceivable to us. Their brokenness is so very profound. In some situations, it becomes even more magnified when they are finally removed from the broken environments of their orphanages and placed in our homes. For these children and their parents, the process of integrating as a family (which is always the desire) can be extremely difficult, discouraging, and, sometimes, even dangerous. 

I will say it again: This is a broken and imperfect world we live in. It is a world where mothers and fathers want more than anything to offer the love and comfort their precious, adopted children are so starved for. But, at times, the hunger and brokenness in these children is so massive that the efforts of parents (no matter how diligent and determined) is simply not enough. Imperfect parents make mistakes and struggle in ways they never could have foreseen...

If you are new here, you will learn in these pages that our adoption of S ended in a dissolution after five extremely difficult years with her being home in our family and that Faith Ana unexpectedly and tragically passed away after being home for three years.

While our adoptions magnified the brokenness in these girls as well as in my own heart, even more, it magnified the mercy and faithfulness of the Lord. I have said this many times and will continue to say and proclaim this: adoption has been one of the single greatest mercies in my life. However, as you will see over the pages of this story, it has been a mercy that has involved tremendous pain and suffering. 

In my writing, I have always sought to be transparent as I have shared about our adoption journeys. I’ve been very candid with my words, and they in no way, shape, or form paint a picture of an adoption story complete with unicorns, rainbows, and perfect, happily-ever-after endings. In fact, my words and this journey share an entirely different story. A story so different and so difficult that, in hindsight, the name Faith’s Defeat seems like a more fitting and appropriate name for this collections of words and thoughts. 

At face value, our adoptions would appear to be absolute disasters. But in this place of defeat and discouragement, of loss and confusion, of tremendous wrestling and doubting, the Lord has met me and spoken such truth into my troubled heart. A truth so important that I feel compelled to keep sharing...

It turns out that my favorite theologian, Spurgeon, has much to say about defeats as well:

“The night of affliction is as much under the arrangement and control of the Lord of Love as the bright summer days when all is bliss. Jesus is in the tempest. His love wraps the night about itself as a mantle, but to the eye of faith the sable robe is scarce a disguise. From the first watch of the night even unto the break of day the eternal Watcher observes his saints, and overrules the shades and dews of midnight for his people's highest good. We believe in no rival deities of good and evil contending for the mastery, but we hear the voice of Jehovah saying, 'I create light and I create darkness; I, the Lord, do all these things...' 

What may seem defeat to us, may be victory to Him...

As I've cried out to the Lord and wept before Him, I've asked Him to show me His heart in the midst of these difficult circumstances and for His truth to flood the darkness that, most assuredly, could very easily have swallowed me up and shut me up.

Today, I’m not entirely sure how or in what ways the Lord desires to use Faith’s Feat. There’s so much that I’m not sure about right now as I'm slowly adjusting to life without these two precious girls. But even in the thick of the turmoil, He has heard my desperate cries, and He's answering my prayers. While many questions remain unanswered, the Lord has brought me to a place of peace and acceptance. Instead of shame, I am covered in His mercy. Instead of guilt, I cling to His grace. In the midst of wrestling, I am learning to rest. Equally, He has brought me to a place of tremendous passion for proclaiming the mercy, mystery, and sovereignty of our Faithful Father. And for that reason, I feel very strongly that there is more to this story that needs to be told. Our story isn't over. He is still writing it. So, I will too.

There is a dialogue that needs to happen. 
  • There are families in the trenches that need help and support. 
  • There are individuals that feel so defeated by failures that they succumb to the lie that the Lord would never choose to use them for His glory.
  • There are churches that need to be energized to provide respite care and resources for special needs families. 
  • There are children that need to be advocated for, both here in our own country and internationally. 
  • There is work to be done, and we are the body of Christ, His hands and His feet here on this earth.

In light of just having walked through a dissolution, is it hypocritical for me to say these words? Some might think so. The Enemy might tell me so. But I stand here today covered in His mercy. A far-reaching, arms-stretched-out-on-a-cross-for-me kind of mercy. The Lord has been so merciful throughout this entire journey...He has been sovereign through all of this, and even when I can't understand His ways or make sense of His ways, I am learning to trust His ways.

I can trust Him when He says that He is working all these things {the feats, and, yes, the defeats} together for my good and for His glory! And because of this, I know there is victory. 

Dissolution isn’t the end of the story.

Discouragement, despair, depression, defeat - none of these things have the final word. 

Not divorce. Not disease. Not infertility. Not miscarriage. Not an addiction or a disorder. Not abuse or trauma. Not the worst disaster you could possibly imagine. 

No, not even death.

As I’m sitting here today writing these words, I realize that your story is certainly different than mine. But the faithful, sovereign, and merciful God who is writing your story is the same God who is writing mine. 

And He’s the same God who wrote the greatest Story of All the Ages. The most beautiful, breathtaking Story ever written, yet a Story that included His one and only Son suffering a horrible, violent death. 

But that wasn’t the end of the story. 

Praise God, there’s more to the Story. There’s always more to the story. 

Things are not as they seem. 

There is more. Always more. A good and glorious more.

This is a promise that I’ve clung to during many difficult days. And it’s one that you can grab a hold on to, too.

Listen to these words, words from Romans 8 that have brought me such tremendous comfort during some of my darkest days:

“We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan...

So who can separate us? What can come between us and the love of God’s Anointed? Can troubles, hardships, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger, or even death? The answer is, absolutely nothing...

But no matter what comes, we will always taste victory through Him who loved us. 

For I have every confidence that nothing - not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing - can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord.”

These words give me hope, a deep and abiding hope. A hope that enables me to stare the worst defeats in the face and know, deep in my heart, that they don’t define me. And it’s because of this hope, that my heart longs to continue sharing about the Lord’s faithful, steadfast, and merciful love. I pray you will be blessed and encouraged as you read through the pages of this story. I’m glad you are here!


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