Thursday, July 28, 2005

Pops chimes in...finally

I'm sure both of you out there reading this are wondering why there's an extra name on the contributors list when only Brianna is contributing. Well by golly, I work for a living! Well, ok, sort of... Brianna has done such a great job establishing all the facts that I think it frees me up to just be kind of goofy and waste your time. It won't all be a waste. I intend to share my heart and reflect on things in a written forum and I'll probably have some blubbery, sensitive moments where you'll all pity me and stuff, but yeah, I'll definitely be wasting some time with pointless banter. Like this paragraph for example. By the way, I trust my joke at the top was received -- implying that only two people are reading this. Ha ha, ha ha. Hmmmm. Yeah, I know, the sign of a truly insecure comedian. That's one of those great things though where you're right either way (or at least can't be proven wrong) -- before anyone is reading this, no one can find the irony in the fact that actually not even two people are reading this, and that by the time anyone is reading this, there's a real good chance that more than two people are reading this in which case the joke works. Get it? Good, now explain it to me. It's like when you're a kid and someone is hiding from you and you call out, "Just come out, I know you can hear me." And you're safe because if they can hear you, they're like "Whoa, how does he know that?" and if they can't hear you, then no one knows you're wrong.

So Kevin, what on earth does this have to do with your Ethiopian Adoption "journey" (as the people like to call it)? Well, it's like this... Okay, did you really think for a split second that I was going to tie it in? You have a lot to learn.

Now for a paragraph that does relate to the topic at hand. God is so good. Can I just start off by saying that? I think I just did. I mean seriously, though. He loves every single person on this orbiting globe with a love that can't even be described. That can only be approximated with allusions to shepherds, and husbands, and fathers. But the moment we say that He loves everyone, we've most likely already missed something. If you're like me, you've probably subconsciously replaced the "everyone" with a picture of "everyone that you know" or "everyone that you like" and maybe in addition to that a fuzzy, vague idea of the rest of the world's strangers in some indefinite form. But for God, there's nothing indefinite about it. For Jesus Christ who hung on the cross and bled for each and every person He created, there's nothing fuzzy or vague. I think it's good to at least acknowledge that. I think it's only natural that our mind pictures work this way, and perhaps it's only even possible to be otherwise for the most right-brained and imaginative among us. But the point is that God doesn't see the world the way that we do. God doesn't spend 98% of His time intimately concerned with the details of your own life and then with the remaining 2% throw some blessings around to the rest of the world's people. Nor does He only spend 2% of His time on you because it's spread between six and a half billion living souls (or whatever the world's population is up to these days). No, He spends 100% of His time intimately concerned, lovingly in tuned, passionately engaged with each and every person. (One of those neat things about being God: being above and beyond the whole mathematics thing.)

So if Jesus cares so much for everyone, and if we're supposed to be followers of Jesus, then why do we so blithely accept the fact that most of the time we really just don't extend care and compassion beyond the people in our immediate circle?

These are some of the ideas that God used to first start softening and changing my heart. A message by Gary Haugen was instrumental for me in God growing my heart outwards. He is the president of an organization called International Justice Mission and you can learn more about them at http://www.ijm.org/. To read straight off their website: "International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that rescues victims of violence, sexual exploitation, slavery, and oppression." The work they do is truly amazing, and I wholeheartedly recommend you check them out and maybe even consider how God might use you to advance His cause of justice around the world. Brianna and I first heard him speak in September 2002, and we were blown away by what he had to share. I strongly encourage you to take 45 minutes sometime and listen to that message we heard. You can still access it at the website of Santa Barbara Community Church.

Go here:
http://www.sbcommunity.org/life/sermons.asp

Then click on: "CLICK HERE FOR SERMON DATABASE"

On the Speaker pulldown, go to Guest Speaker.

Scroll down and it's just called "Gary Haugen" and the date is 9/8/02

(He was also a week-long guest on a Christian radio program last month and you can hear those messages and interviews as well at:
http://www.familylife.com/fltoday/broadcast_schedule.asp?search=1&showType=&guests=haugen)

In recent months, we've revisited the subject and while the topics are not directly related to adoption, I have found that God has used the same eye-opening experiences to open my heart to serving the "least of these" in other ways -- for us, namely adoption.

And in referring to orphans as the “least of these”, I feel the need to add a disclaimer. (I know that I am probably the least concise writer ever but supposedly that's okay in a blog, right?) Lest I be misunderstood to be saying that I look at our decision to adopt as some noble endeavor where we're just "selflessly serving the Lord" and then I can't even explain further because my pride is so puffed up that it is smothering my face... Let me be clear. I do think that caring for orphans is a noble cause. God's Word says so. And not noble in the sense that only a few wonderful souls take it up but because it’s so important and because God is so passionate about it. But I've heard people (mainly reading written accounts on others' blogs etc.) describe their adoption experience as this wonderful thing where they were able to "save" a child, etc. And while I don't even think it's necessarily wrong to say that, for me, that doesn't describe my outlook. And by way of confession, if I did see it that way, knowing myself, I think my pride would puff up. So yes, it is a wonderful thing to adopt a child who needs parents, a family, and unconditional love for a lifetime. We're incredibly excited at the privilege and opportunity to do just that. And, irrespective of adoption, God calls all of us to care for the orphans. I do think God is in the business of saving children, both spiritually and physically. It's a cause near and dear to His heart. And I think He looks to accomplish His purposes through His people. And I firmly believe that He will be accomplishing some of His purposes through us as He moved us to make this decision and as He continues to move us to love and care for this precious child or these precious children that He will place under our protection and care. So I find kind of a dichotomy (and I think I'm misusing the word but it's such a cool word and, by gum, I'm going to use it in my blog!) between the philosophical outlook at the general principles involved on the one hand and my own practical outlook towards the specific situation on the other. (Okay, I couldn't stand it -- I looked up the word and it turns out I'm using it properly after all. At least properly enough.)

The philosophical outlook, which is what I've been largely describing, is very important. It's the "big picture" that God uses to melt your heart and make it useable in His service. It contains the truths that I would use to encourage my fellow brothers and sisters to get involved (in some capacity) in God's work for the orphans around the world. It holds the sobering reminders of just how small my heart really is but also the hopeful encouragement of what is possible if I place that small heart into God's skillful hands.

So what about my own practical outlook about this very specific situation, that of adopting a child or children from Ethiopia? Well the mood shifts. It's like so many of the things that God wants me to do. As soon as I get behind Him in obedience, He shapes my desires in such a way that now I'm doing it because I want to. I'm downright jolly! It's exciting! (Now granted, right now the process of filling out forms and getting millions, yes millions, of things done for the applications and home study makes the jolly part seem a little distant but I know that's only temporary.) I'm excited to see God at work. To see Brianna and I take a step of faith together. To meet that precious kid, our newest family member. To get to know him. (And I will here employ the "PC" method of alternating gender references...) To see what makes her tick. To invest my life in him. To make her laugh and smile. To learn more about Ethiopia and about adoption and about the challenges involved so that I can be the best father possible and love him with an unconditional and effective love. So I can be a place of safety for her. I so look forward to seeing Anna as a big sister. To watching her dote on him. See them playing and getting into mischief together. Hearing them giggle in the other room. Seeing the daily reminders of the truly beautiful thing that God has accomplished through our family. I'm excited to take further steps along the path which God has shown me is my primary life passion: that of being a Godly husband and father and pouring my life and love into the family God has given me.

And maybe I've stumbled on something here, at least something that I didn't really understand before. We really do live on two different planes (not like the airline kind but like the geometric kind -- just thought I'd clear that up). The abstract ideas are important and necessary. Without the realization that God cares so much for all people, maybe I never would have found myself on this road. Without the humbling awareness of the need, perhaps we would have never looked to love outside our immediate circle. The philosophical ideals and the abstract values that God imparts to us motivate proper day-to-day living. But the real life itself is not lived there. There's no fire in the fireplace, no steaming hot food on plates. No Christmas trees or laughter or kids begging to lick the beaters. No knowing glances passed between parents over oblivious children. No racing on the beach, no flying kites, no campfires, no reading together under the shade of a tree on a cool summer day. Those are the things that excite me, that fire me up. That is what I think of first when someone asks me why we’ve decided to adopt. The ideals and the philosophies that are so important need the hard edge of reality in order to be lived out. Without it, they remain cold and lifeless and ineffective. But once they are lived out, they gain potency as living testimonies to their inherent truth.

I look forward to seeing the seeds that God planted in us as ideals and passions and particular giftednesses grow into the fruits of that wondrous and amazing-sounding everyday life.

Wherever and whoever you are, I can't wait to meet you. I promise to love you with all that I am and to be the best father I can as my Father enables me. Hold tight...your new family is on its way...

4 comments:

Michael Heldt said...

You guys rock. And not because you are "saving" a child. Got it! :) I love you three and can't wait to be cool, crazy uncle Mike to 4, 5, and 6... (now I am sounding more like the cat in the hat).

Mike

Anonymous said...

As my other brother said in his own (less funny) way, you guys rock my socks off!!! What you're doing is truly...amazing and an inspiration to many! I'm proud to call you guys my brother and sister in Christ, much less my real brother and sister! Reading what you wrote here Kev almost made me cry! The way you have with words, and the way you express what you truly feel is awesome! May God be with you throughout your "journey"! :) I love you guys, and yes, you too Anna!

Krys

Solomon & Malachi said...

You go! We're also adopting from Ethiopia and we have James 1:27 stenciled hugely accross our kitchen wall. "Pure and faultless religion before God our Father is caring for widows and orphans in their distress and keeping yourself unpoluted by the world." I'll keep tabs on your blog, it's nice to see someone traveling our road! Agape.

Brianna Heldt said...

I'm sorry I haven't replied to your comment yet!!! Congratulations on your own adoption journey! That is a great verse and one that we have taken to heart. Good luck with your adoption; please keep us posted! BTW, what agency are you using?
Brianna

 

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