Observe! Be astonished! Wonder!

Habakkuk 1:5 is probably one of my favorite verses.

“Look among the nations! Observe!
Be astonished! Wonder!
Because I am doing something in your days—
You would not believe if you were told.”

The verse doesn’t say that we will believe the work, or even that we will see it. All it says is that “I am doing something in your days.” I don’t know about you, I just know about me, but sometimes it’s a challenge to believe that He is working when all the news you hear is discouraging, heartbreaking and frustrating. But that’s not really the point is it? Because whether I believe it or not, He is doing a wonderful, astonishing work among the nations.

How many of you have read Isaiah 6 and been inspired by verse 8 where he says, “Here am I, Lord, send me!” Super inspiring, right? People have written songs and sermons and books about this verse. But how often do you keep going, just a few more verses down? Because verse 9 says:

“Go, and tell this people:

‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.’
10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim…

Super encouraging, right? Wait. It gets better (not).

 Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered,

“Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant,
Houses are without people
And the land is utterly desolate,
12 “The Lord has removed men far away,
And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.

Still want to be sent?

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Thankfully, no one has to go into a foreign land to experience sacrifice, or persecution, or to begin begging, “Lord, how long?” Am I right? Rest is good, but there are two things that we should not ever rest from, and those are watching and praying. Watching for the fulfillment of the promises of God, and continually lifting up our voices – as the persistent widow did Luke 18 – asking the Lord to establish Himself in this land so that all might sing His praises.

On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen;
All day and all night they will never keep silent.
You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves;
And give Him no rest until He establishes
And makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

Isaiah 62:6-7

Cry loudly, do not hold back, lift up your voice like a trumpet.

Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder!

But now, O Lord, You are our Father, we are the clay, and You our potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand.

Glorious Endings

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Why does his story have to begin here?

A little one I met at the orphanage was just transferred into the care of an NGO so that he can get the care and surgery he needs. I sent them the pictures I took of him, because I have pictures from the day after he arrived at the orphanage. He was abandoned at the front gate in broad daylight. They named him Daylight. And I have pictures from the next day … not 24 hours after becoming an orphan.

And that’s where his story begins.

One day, we pray, he will be adopted by a family who can love and care for him and teach him about Jesus. But the earliest memories, documents and pictures they will have of him will be from the day after he was abandoned. Such a sad beginning.

His earliest “baby picture” is from when he was three months old. It’s a gift, when you think about it in perspective. Not every little orphan baby has pictures from when they were that fresh and little. I’m thankful that I took those pictures for his adoptive parent’s sake… but when I think of what those pictures represent, I ache a little bit inside. That picture – the one I took of him in the the little rocker in the baby room on that sunny day in April, that’s his first picture. And it was taken his first day in the orphanage.

But there is hope, because our God restores broken lives and writes glorious endings to stories.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.

Isaiah 61:1-3

These days, I’ve been reflecting a lot upon Isaiah, upon the promises of God and the fulfillment of so many of those promises. The real glorious ending is not successful surgery, nor is it adoption… or even attachment. The ultimate glorious ending is Christ glorified by a little child coming to know Him, and living a life that brings honor and praise to our God.

That first picture may represent a sorrowful monument in the little boy’s life, but it also represents the first day that he was prayed over. And we will continue to pray — won’t we? — that he will become one of those “called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

A Prayer for the Right Now when you don’t want to be Here

The present is the only point where time touches eternity.

-C.S. Lewis

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Now. Today. This very moment. Our God is mighty. He is working, moving, fulfilling His promises and the glory is going to Him.

Right now. Today. This very moment. And for some reason that I will never fully comprehend He is letting me be a part of His work.

I’m not talking about orphan care.

I’m not talking about living overseas.

I’m not talking about about doing dangerous things, scary things, or even very hard things…

I’m talking about the things of right now, of here, of this moment in time. And for some reason beyond the comprehension of this sinner, He has enabled me to use mere moments for His glory.

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“For he will not often consider the years of his life, because God keeps him occupied with the gladness of his heart.” Ecclesiastes 5:20

Keep me occupied, God, with the continued remembrance and understanding of Your great gift for me; the salvation that I did not deserve. And as my heart is overwhelmed with gladness at this incredible gift, there will be peace.

“When I gave my heart to know wisdom and to see the task which has been done on the earth (even though one should never sleep day or night), and I saw every work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work which has been done under the sun. Even though man should seek laboriously, he will not discover; and though the wise man should say, “I know,” he cannot discover.” Ecclesiastes 8:16-17

World Adoption Day (a week late)

I started writing this a week ago, and it became one of the pieces in a pile of un-concluded thoughts. Because I think that it’s important I’m going to attempt to finish it up.

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Today is the first World Adoption Day. Some might claim it’s a day of celebration. Others will argue that it’s not a day of celebration. Adoption is coupled with loss and tragedy. Don’t tell me that an orphan is an unhappy child. I know it, know it know it all too well. Adoption is not a “complete repair,” speaking in heart-surgery terms here, but it is a “palliative fix.”

“What?” you ask. “I thought that adoption was supposed to be forever; a forever family, love forever, unconditional love and hope and happiness?”

It’s not. Because children are not supposed to become orphans. And if they’re not supposed to ever be orphans, then adoption isn’t supposed to be something that happens. But it does, and that’s sad.

However, the concept of adoption was birthed long before there were “orphanages” or “termination of parental rights” or “poverty orphans.”

The concept of adoption began in Genesis chapter 48. Jacob – a blind and dying old man, adopted Ephraim and Manasseh. He gave them tribes – the full privilege and inheritance that would belong to a son. That’s what adoption is – it’s not simply the addition of children into a family. It is giving these people the full privilege that comes to children in our families.

Adoption gives us the rights of children, regeneration gives us the nature of children: we are partakers of both of these, for we are sons.

-Charles Spurgeon

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“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13

Let’s swivel and look at adoption from another angle… from a heavenly one. Let’s look at the adoption that John spoke of when he said that to us “He gave the right to become children of God.” Because this is adoption, y’all.

God has not just rescued us from the bondage of sin and the future of complete seperation. He has brought us into His home, into His inheritance. We are sons and daughters of the Most High. This is vertical adoption, and when a family brings a child, who was once left alone and given up, into their family, they are demonstrating this vertical reality through a horizontal action.

Sometimes people ask silly questions, such as, “which are your real children?” They ask because they don’t understand.

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Think about it – when we die and those of us who have a relationship with God meet in heaven, will the angels ask this question of us? “Which are your adopted children, and which are your real children?” Um, no! Because those who are in heaven will ALL be sons and daughters of Jesus Christ. We are all adopted into His family.

Pastor Voddie Baucham says that we have “an overblown reality of biology.” Who are we closer to, those related to us biologically, or those who are fellow believers? The blood of Christ is so much “thicker” than the blood of heredity.

The inheritance of Ephraim and Manasseh was based upon the promises of God.

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:14-17

You. Me.  We have an inheritance.

But doesn’t someone have to die in order for us to have an inheritance?

Yes. Yes, someone died.

Jesus died.

When a family “adopts a child” they should not look at adopting as an inheritance for them -filling an empty spot in their lives, fulfilling them. Neither should we look at adoption as  as an inheritance for the child, the social justice angle.

“We must adopt children with the view to raising them in the discipline and instruction in the lord with the view of Christ having HIS full inheritance… The only thing I have of worth is that which has been promised to me by God. “
-Pastor Voddie Baucham

When Ephriam and Manassah were adopted it wasn’t because Abraham needed sons. He already had 12 of them. The adoption wasn’t about a need, it was about love. I mean, think about it… were we chosen and saved by God because He needs us? No, it’s because He LOVES us.

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Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:3-6

Just by reading the verse above, who is adoption about? Us? No… it’s about Christ. It’s ALL about Him. And we adopt others because of our love for Christ, and for His glory and honor and namesake.

Will an adopted child one day have an identity crisis? Want to know their birth-parents? Want to know their history? Yes. But this should not keep families from adopting. It’s not about us. The fear of a child not growing up to feel that their adopted parents were “enough” is real, but it’s not right. Because this is about Christ. It’s not about getting love for ourselves, or glory, or just having a bigger family. It’s about giving Christ MORE glory, and leading MORE to Himself.

November is National Adoption Month, and the 9th was the first World Adoption Day. I think that it’s neat that someone has decided that the nation and the world need to set aside time to ponder these things… there are orphans who need families. If not us, then who? But I think that by focusing all of our advocacy and energy upon the pleading-eyed children in another country we miss out on something very important.

Our adoption. Our adoption as sons and daughters of Christ. If we could realize these truths, it would be like Easter all over again. Like Reformation Sunday and Good Friday and Christmas all in one.

Pastor Baucham said it this way (and I can’t listen to it enough!):

“We are adopted. God could have saved us and made us slaves. But he saved us and made us children. If God had saved us and made us slaves… that would have been good enough. It would have been more than we deserved! And yet he has adopted us and made us his children.”

Adopting children is not about us, or the children, really. It’s about painting a picture of God, who is the adopter of us, His precious children.

And this is something to celebrate.

thoughts adapted from my notes from Voddie Baucham’s sermon on Genesis 48 which you can listen to here – I highly recommend it!

A Quick Update

Dear friends,

I am here, don’t you fear. It’s been a crazy weekend with two really big tests and another one in just 40-some hours that I’m scrambling to study for because, well… it was a crazy weekend with two really big tests. Of course I managed to get sick, but I will push through because I have to. And I can’t imagine that my professors will….

…never mind. I just realized that I had an online quiz due at 11:59pm. Took that. Okay, moving on.

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I am listening to acapella Christmas music when I’m not watching videos about the urinary system, and I’m crocheting granny squares when I am watching videos about the urinary system. Obviously I’m addicted to multitasking.

In China things are busy busy busy. Our two littlest sickest ones came home from the hospital yesterday, thank you Lord! But it’s a lot… they’re sick, and it’s hard work for the nannies and enormous responsibility for us (aka: Daddy). So prayers are much appreciated, for us all.

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That is all.

Love,

Hannah