a handful of magic sticks


"One of the signs that an object is functioning as an idol is that fear becomes one of the chief characteristics of life. When we center our lives on the idol, we become dependent on it. If our counterfeit god is threatened in any way, our response is complete panic. We do not say, 'What a shame, how difficult,' but rather, 'This is the end! There's no hope!' (Tim Keller, Counterfeit gods)

While I was driving kids here and there today, I was thinking about idols. I mean the kind of idols you make out of wood or stone.

During Bobby's past two trips to Asia, he was amazed to walk down streets and see people putting money down before a mystic with a handful of sticks or some angry-looking handmade statue. People trying to find a steering wheel on Fate.

It wasn't until this adoption that I realized how closely these folks mirror my own heart.

Today we found out that Clara might need oral surgery very soon. One of her permanent teeth is growing into the root of another permanent tooth. Unless that's fixed, she could lose one of her front, top incisors. It definitely wasn't the news I was expecting, considering the demands of the past few weeks.

I quickly called Bobby and told him not to cancel our dental insurance, no matter how much it was. I also told him not to lower our outpatient surgery coverage. (BC/BS is raising our premiums, so we have spent the past few weeks looking for budget-friendly alternatives. Thankfully, I caught him before he made that call.)

During the long drive back to school, I was wrestling with what to do next. What was the proactive, responsible, wise choice? With the torrent of craziness running through our lives right now, I had the sensation that I was standing on the beach defying a tsunami with a yellow plastic bucket.

The silent dog biting at my heels was fear. There's too much to fix. Too much to do. Too much that's broken.

My office at work was empty, and I'm not on the clock today, so I let my Bible flop open and began to read. I realize this isn't the methodical plan Professionals use... but thankfully, God met me there. :)

My text fell open to Psalm 146 and 147. Songs about God's strength and man's weakness.

"His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor His pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His steadfast love." (Psalm 147:10-11)

It was good to be reminded that God doesn't get all excited about earthly strength. He doesn't get all giddy about human ability. If I had answers to all of these problems, that wouldn't please Him.

God is excited about the human heart stripped down to an honest, humble realization of need, trust, and hope.

But my fear rises, and I start grabbing for idols out of instinct. Or if Tim Keller is right, maybe I fear BECAUSE I've been holding on to them so tightly all along. I'm like my brothers overseas who toss lucky sticks or venerate handmade Buddhas. I want security I can feel. A sense of control in a dangerous world.

What does it look like, instead, to choose 'trust' and 'hope'? To reject the many idols this process is surfacing? To trust in Someone besides myself?

Teacher, show me how to walk. Place my feet.


"Lay your deadly 'doing' down, Down at Jesus' feet. Stand in him, in him alone, Gloriously complete."

Carey  – (May 12, 2010 at 5:14 AM)  

I'm commenting because i want you to know I read, though I don't feel I have adequate words.

I'm SO very glad you are writing all this and sharing it here like this. I hope that all this will be a great big huge blessing to another mom going through this very thing both right now and in the future when she searches for something out there to help her along the adoption journey.

Our idols here are stealth. They don't look like little statues and we don't physically get down on our knees and bow to them... but our hearts are the same nonetheless and we don't even recognize it.

I believe it was you who first asked me months and months ago... how much does FEAR influence my every day parenting. I found it such a strange question at first... and the more and more I thought about it, even all these months later, the more and more I realize how very much fear rules my life.

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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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