Counting the cost, facing the fear

January 5th, 2011

Our house is definitely a happenin’ place these days!  We have news to share, and lots of pictures, too!

But that will have to wait a bit longer.

For now…

I just went back and read the open letter I wrote on New Year’s Eve.

Wow.  It sounds so confident.  As if such a thing as doubt would never cross my soul.

It needs to be very clear that the woman who wrote her challenges to us was doing it out of a pure motive of kindness and concern.  She is a Christian sister who believes that God will lead His people, like we do.

She has experience with adoption out of institutions, and she is very familiar with the difficult issues that can result when children have been damaged in this way.

In the hours after I wrote my response to her letter, a sudden thought came into my mind.

“She knows many other people who are in the process of adopting children with special needs, two and three at a time, some with known serious issues.  I wonder if she has challenged them to reconsider?  I wonder if she sees something in us that made her say what she did?”

She wrote again to tell me the wrenching story of a time when she and her husband were sure God was leading them to adopt two certain children–all the way up until they met one of the children.  Then she saw all kinds of red flags telling her that they should not continue with the adoption of that one.  It was a time of great emotional turmoil and serious questioning.

She explained that she disagrees with how we are discerning God’s leading.  She believes it is possible that all the doors to two children could open, even if it is not God’s will for us to walk through them.

Then a couple of other people weighed in with their own stories of difficult adoptions.  Told bluntly, without any explanation of how God provided and sustained, they sounded bleak.  Did God bring these children into homes and then abandon them?

I began to wonder if I wore a sign around my neck that read, “Talk me out of adoption.”  <wry grin>

Ah well, I thought, this is good, because it underlines how imperative it is that we thoroughly research the possibilities, face the worst-case scenarios, and ask all the hard questions.  No naivete allowed.

But over the next few days, my heart grew increasingly heavy.

Every spare moment for thinking was weighed down with my questions for God, but I couldn’t think of what any of them were.

I read and read and read online about post-institutionalization behaviors–attachment issues, sensory issues, medical issues–on and on.

Most of it was not new to me.  I’d heard it before, here and there over the years, as it is a fascinating subject to me.   None of it was specific to Down syndrome.

None of it would have frightened me, except that now I was reading it through the lens of fear and doubt instead of the lens of confidence in God.  The scary stories kept haunting me.  Where was God in those stories?  If He was, what strange, foreign God was He?  I could not see Him, could not recognize Him there.

Would God lead us into more than we could handle, and then leave us there alone?  Would He allow us to make a grave mistake, when He knows that our hearts’ desire is to follow Him?

Would He do that?

Would He do that??

Would He???

Every morning, I devoured the Psalms, hoping for an answer to my undefined questions.

They all had something to do with God’s leading and how we can be sure of it.  I read, and underlined, and pled with Him, and still my heart ached with heaviness.

Then I came to Psalm 77, and it went straight into my soul, tears streaming down my face.

“I cry aloud to God, and He will hear me.  In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.

When I remember God, I am troubled; I complain, and my spirit is overwhelmed.

I meditate within my heart, and my spirit makes diligent search.

Will the Lord cast off forever?  And will He be favorable no more?  Has His mercy ceased forever?  Has His promise failed forevermore?  Has God forgotten to be gracious?  Has He in anger shut up His compassion?

Then I said, ‘I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.’

I will remember the works of the LORD; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old.  I will also meditate on all Your work, and talk of Your deeds.

Your way, O God, is holy.

What god is great like our God?

You are the God who works wonders.

You have declared Your strength among the peoples.

You have with Your arm redeemed Your people…

Your way was in the sea, Your path through the great waters, yet Your footprints were unseen.

You led Your people like a flock…”

That is the God I know!  That is my God!  That is the God I trust in with all my heart, not leaning on my own understanding.  That is the God I long to acknowledge in all my ways.

My heart is once again resting secure in this our God!  He will make straight our paths!  No fear! He will lead us!

“Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed:

For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;

I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,

Upheld by My righteous, Omnipotent hand.”


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7 Responses to “Counting the cost, facing the fear”

  1. Shauna says:

    Oh yes the lesson to be learned this week!  God is in control and his plan is perfect all the time.  Even when we can’t see it or understand it.  Praying for you and for your peace and answers!  My challenges this week are much smaller and more trivial, but the lesson is the same.  My family, my plans, our lives are in God’s hands and his design is perfect!

  2. Scott says:

    Wow! That’s all I can say…  I’m speechless… good thing I can type!  :-)
    To think that my post on my blog was written before you wrote this, and you wrote this before you read my post… The scripture at the top of my page was put there for you as a response to something you posted…
    “we have had a lot of experience living in a position that most people would say was crazy/impossible/irresponsible or worse”
    I have a story for you… (short version)
    We became aware of the problems of orphans in the Ukraine and are supporters of an organization that helps to have these children fostered into Christian homes in the Ukraine.  There was a couple who (if memory serves me correctly) had two children of their own, and fostered three orphans.  People thought they were crazy…  He was a bus driver and died in an accident.  The family said to her “surely you see you must give these children up now…” to which she said that no, it is more important than ever to keep them…  “crazy!” or else she knows how to hold her Heavenly Papa’s hand…
    I will have to get an update on her status and write a post about her story.

  3. sabrina says:

    Excellent post! Jeff and I had a conversation on this topic this week too. A child of God says to her Father, “Lord, I do not see all things. I do not know all things. I am going to hold your hand and completely trust you to lead me the right way.” and the Father says, what? “Oh, good! I’ve been waiting for this moment so I could really get you….lead you somewhere awful….let all sorts of bad things happen to you because you finally trusted me to lead you!” You’re right….that is not our God! Satan uses fear to keep us from trusting our Father. Christians even say, “Well, God gave your brain so you could use your common sense.” One thing I’ve learned is that my brain is flesh. My common sense is my own flesh. 100 years from now my brain and my common sense will be in the grave. The walk of a Christian is to learn more and more to trust the Lord and lean not on our own understanding. Jeremiah 29:11 has been my verse of the week. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

  4. Susanna says:

    That one deserves another big THANK YOU, Scott. It is definitely going into my encouragement collection!

  5. Susanna says:

    YES! This is what I have taught our children for lo, these many years. We can trust our Heavenly Father! He does not play mind games with His beloved children. We HAVE to KNOW that He will be with us and help us NO MATTER WHAT difficulties are ahead. We HAVE to KNOW that He was the One who called us to it.

  6. Tami Ann says:

    They that go into the deep waters…these shall see the wondrous works of the Lord.

    It’s easy to say we trust the Lord but hover close to the shore line keeping land in view at all times. Ya know, just in case!

    Yeah, but those who go out into the deep waters with no sign of land in view all they can do is look up!

  7. Lindsey says:

    I think sometimes the Lord just fills our heart with faith and turns off our fear mechanism.  I mean, if you look at the divorce rate, everyone who is engaged would have crowds of people saying.  “How can you?” “What if…” “I know someone who had a terrible marriage!”  But a bride is not going to listen!  She just KNOWS and has faith and WANTS the challenge. …Also our society accepts that, although marriage is super hard and often fails, the rewards are GREAT! (And there is a wedding/romance industry pouring untold millions into promoting weddings) But I don’t think the same is true of adoption. Nobody is promoting it, making it fun, celebrating it, and encouraging it.  It’s just crazy, foolhardy, and difficult. So, God fills his children with the faith to just JUMP and trust Him to catch us!

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