A memorial stone for faith

It’s almost been one year since we started really pursuing our adoption. It’s crazy to think where we were last year. We had so little money to put toward this adoption. We weren’t really in a place where expanding our family was logical. But the calling was clear. Pursue it this year.

So we started on the path of adoption.

And we had doors we thought we were supposed to go through that closed.

Then we had to seek God again – “We did hear You, right? This is the path You called us to walk…right?”

When I think about the particular moment – the moment when Ethiopia didn’t work out for us – my heart still breaks. I was so certain that Baby Shows was in Ethiopia. I was prepared for the long wait (it was more logical for us anyway). It didn’t make sense to me. And I wanted to be a momma so desperately.

But if we had tried to force our idea of what God wanted for us, we would have missed Baby Shows. Because Baby Shows was in an entirely different African nation. One that we weren’t expecting, honestly. And I can’t tell you (yet) all the things that happened since we submitted our application, but I can tell you October was the reason we were supposed to walk the path that He placed us on. October 4 will remain one of those days that we will never forget. His plan was there all along. Hidden from us until that moment.

Now we are in 2012. God has amazing things for us this year. This is the year we hope to become a family of three.

Yet a mountain stands between us and that point. Last Friday, I was defeated. I couldn’t see how it was possible. I wavered in my faith.

What does it look like to have faith?

Although my husband is someone of great faith, I am not. I tend to timidity and fear (and a lot of “What ifs?!”). So this whole journey has been a long exercise of faith. And what I’ve learned is this.

Faith is a choice. It’s not a feeling.

There have been many moments where I don’t feel like I should believe. There have been many moments that when I look at the evidence, I shouldn’t believe. Because it is impossible by all earthly means.

But faith is a choice. It’s a choice to see what’s there and believe what isn’t. It’s a choice to believe despite all evidence to the contrary. The adoption is the first time in my entire life I have truly lived Hebrews 11:1 (The Amplified Version):

NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

Faith is something that only grows when challenged. Like a muscle, faith develops from a weight that tears the fibers apart so they can heal and become stronger. “Our faith grows the strongest on the sides of steep slopes where there’s less to cling to.”

 tree on the edge(Photo courtesy of craigcloutier on Flickr)

 

We ended up on a completely different timeline, one that has been incredibly quick. Even in this, God has been faithful in every step. Every single step. He has taught me what is meant by our “daily bread.” It seems that every need has been bigger than the funds we have personally. But we haven’t had a cost go unpaid. The funds we need are there exactly when we need them. Our friends have given sacrificially to help us bring Baby Shows home.

I cannot adequately express my gratitude that so many people have been faithful in the love of our heavenly Father, whose heart is for the Fatherless. And all of you have a beautiful part in our child’s story. We are so blessed by you.

So, to 2011 was a year of learning to have faith. It was my year to exercise belief.

I’m not sure what 2012 holds, what little gems God has prepared for me. But I know that if God is preparing our steps, whatever 2012 has, it will be ultimately good.

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Courage

If I were to take a Wizard of Oz themed personality assessment, I think I would end up as this guy:

I’m smart. And compassionate. And already home.

So that leave the one thing I feel like I lack: courage. I’m not brave. I’m not scared of everything, but definitely of certain things.

Courage is one thing I seek.

So as I’ve been praying for God’s will about something, I’ve also been asking for courage. Whatever it needs to look like for me. Courage to stand up for myself. Courage to stand up for others. Courage to stand up against my biggest fears.

And what I’ve determined to be the problem with courage is that it is one of those things that comes with practice. You don’t all of a sudden get courage to do something. You are scared out of your mind to do something, but you do it anyway. Isn’t that courage? Doing something despite your fear of it?

But as a believer, I’m taking assurance in knowing that I don’t have to go it alone. Aside from my awesome husband, I have the privilege of knowing that God is with me in all things:

Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not fail you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:14)

 

So here I am.

Asking God for courage.

And I know that He’s going to give me opportunities to be courageous.

Whatever they might look like.

When we are not enough

I’m sometimes reluctant when God calls me to something. Today I’m really struggling with something that God has obviously placed in our path. I really struggled because I feel too small for the task that is in front of us. I’m not the voice that is persuasive or inspiring.

I’m just me. And today I feel like this “me” is very small.

I think about people who stand up and are courageous. They have no fear. They speak with authority and they are ready to change the world.  They are inspiring. They are bigger than life in my mind because I lack the courage to be them. I sit in wonder and look at their ability to stand up, speak up, and move people to justice. I am in awe of these folks. They are incredible super heroes in my mind.

And then there are people like me. The people who feel like they are too small, too not ready, too quiet and unsure of themselves. God calls us too, even when we tell Him we’re not up for the job, talented, or even equipped.

Today I’ve sat and pondered what God really means by this potential opportunity to speak for the vulnerable, the “least of the least”. I could say that I have a legitimate reason to object to this opportunity, and I do. But the real reason I want to object is that I’m scared. I don’t want to go along because it frightens me to be on the frontlines. Unfortunately for me, God hasn’t asked for my permission for His plan. He is seeking my obedience to His plan. He has called; will I obey?

Because throughout God’s story, He has used people who have said they weren’t enough: prepared enough, eloquent enough, equipped enough, brave enough, educated enough, adequate enough, or talented enough. But that’s the point right? God’s grace is perfected in weakness – when we aren’t enough.

Honestly, I’m terrified. I look at His hand before me, calling me out onto the water where trust is a means of survival, no longer a “luxury” and I don’t know how to move. Because it often comes to this question: Do I trust You?

God knows my concern. This morning I was reading in Isaiah and came across 41:10:

‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Because no matter what God calls us to, the greater purpose is learning to trust God in all things. To not fear, to recognize that He strengthens us in all things. I probably am not “enough” of anything, but my God is. And He who begins a good work in us will see it to completion. I don’t need to be terrified because He is with us.

Contemplating…

As we contemplate and consider, I can’t escape from Proverbs 16:9

The mind of man plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.

We often think we’re in control. We plan and make decisions. We plot and plan. When in all reality, it is ultimately God who directs our every step. He knew (from the foundations of the earth) the decisions we would face tonight and every night. He knew our hearts, our moments of confusion, our doubts, and our faith. He knows our steps.

Rather than feeling like I’m missing out because I’m not in control, I’m taking comfort. Whatever path we take, He has already plotted out our steps.

Logic and faith

Today I feel like I’m somewhere between trigger shy and already three lengths from the starting gate. (Yes, I did just combine two metaphors.) Part of me is terrified of rushing the opportunity and the other part of me is scared that we might be missing the opportunity. I want so desperately to do what I think is God’s will for us, but I’m quite frankly terrified of being wrong either way. This decision is one of the biggest decisions in our lives. I don’t want to mess that up because of selfish desires or because I’m not sure I trust Him enough.

I sometimes wish God would write what’s next in the sky as I’m driving home from work. Or maybe He could speak audibly to me as I’m walking the dog. I wish He would send me an email or tag me in a tweet (“@Carla_Shows, Yes it’s time to go”) so that I could just know for certain that this is the right opportunity and time. I’m sitting here waiting for faith to be rational and logical. What if it’s not going to be? What if I never get that hard evidence that means it’s the “right” time?

Where does logic stop and faith begin? When am I being irresponsible and when am I being faithful? How do we ever know the difference?

Of course, we need to be wise. This venture will not be easy. We don’t want to complicate this anymore than it is inherently. The line between wisdom and faith looks blurry to me today.

As I look out onto the water, I’m really not sure how Peter took that first step. Because the idea of illogical steps onto that inky water is terrifying to me.

But I don’t want to miss the opportunity to walk on water with God.