the fifth stack

While Bobby was folding clothes tonight he shook out a little pair of shorts I'd found at Goodwill for Moses. He said, "You know what this represents?"

"What?" I asked.

"The fifth stack!" he said.

It made me smile, because he was right. That fifth stack of folded clothes looked awfully good sitting on the coffee table. It's our 'quiver-full of arrows,' twenty-ten version.

- - -

Upon recommendation from a friend, I've been reading Milton Vincent's A Gospel Primer. In the past, I've always felt a little slow, because no matter how much in-depth theology I read, it seems like I still have to return to the rudimentary gospel on a regular basis. It's like returning to the surface for air: Jesus died for me, and because of this, my life was made new ... and is being made new.

Yet Vincent's work is helping me see how the gospel was intended to be more than a one-time thing for Christians. The ongoing exchange of Christ is central to my growth, and this one simple truth applies very practically to every area of my life. The life infusion Jesus offers exchanges my strivings (fears, bad habits, insufficiencies, failures) for rest.

The chapter that shook me up today was called "My Manifesto." Vincent writes: "Admittedly, I don't deserve to be a child of God, and I don't deserve to be free of sin's guilt and power. I don't deserve the staggering privilege of intimacy with God, or any other blessing that Christ has purchased for me with His blood. I don't even deserve to be useful to God."

"I don't even deserve to be useful to God."

That last statement hit me hardest, because as the last few weeks of our adoption process draw to a close, I find myself plagued with fears. What if something happens and everything falls through? After falling in love with this child, what if we are left with empty arms? What if paperwork gets lost? What if he is gravely hurt in the orphanage? What if one of us gets hurt too badly to travel? What if one of us becomes seriously ill so that the other government won't let us have him? And then ... what if no one else wanted to adopt him, because he's a toddler? Or what if someone adopted him who didn't love him? For someone with my personality, these sorts of possibilities can be paralyzing.

Fifteen years ago I had a miscarriage, and it broke my heart. So I don't speak lightly when I say that (for me) these adoption-loss fears have been even more intense than pregnancy fears of losing a baby living inside my body. I know what would happen if I lost a baby inside my body. The child would transition from an environment of warmth and love into a beautiful eternity with Jesus. I know I could find comfort in that truth at the end of grief and pain.

But I don't know what would happen to Moses if we lost the adoption. I couldn't be assured he would be safe in any aspect, most importantly spiritually. I know many of the horrors and dangers that he would face physically, and that knowledge stirs up a level of fear I have absolutely no words to describe.

I realized today that, in light of those dangers, I have felt justified in expecting that God would let me be "useful to Him" by adopting Moses. The presence of such fear is diagnostic of a heart that trusts my love and my will more than God's. In the midst of a 'good' pursuit, the mission has almost become more important to me than my Savior. Perhaps this is the universal temptation of motherhood.

I'm grateful for Vincent's reminder that it is a grace to be invited into God's work, but I am not doing something good for God. In His mercy, He might allow me the privilege of being a part of something beautiful that He is doing. But participating in redemption is not something I deserve. I cannot demand it. My "usefulness" is dependent solely upon God's calling and sustenance.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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About This Blog

Welcome to our family’s adoption journey. As you read, you will see us stumble and take wrong paths. You will see our hopes surge and fall. You will see the gaps in our humanity, and how our God realigns us to His purposes over and again. We think the messiness of this process is important. Sometimes walking with God isn’t a neat, linear package that can be summarized in bullet points. More often, life ebbs and flows around our plans, while God works His sovereign wonders from it all. We are learning so much through this journey. And we are super excited about our new son. If you’d like to join us, we’d love to have you along for the ride.

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