Have you ever done this? You know that God wants you to do something, but it's a little out of your comfort zone. So what do you do? You try to satisfy your guilty conscience by doing something that is close, but not quite what He is asking, hoping that He won't mind the difference. Well, that's exactly what I did. I had shared in the first post of this series that when we first began looking into the adoption, I realized how much the Lord was asking us to do, and I froze up. Called the whole thing to a halt.
During that time, Pastor Cory would issue repeated reminders and calls to us to be in prayer about the children. What I was doing with all these calls? I knew that even if we didn't adopt, we would be willing to give to help the families who did. I was even willing to help with meals, providing care, or assisting in whatever way I could. I raised my hand when he asked for volunteers to support the families. To be honest, I felt rather magnanimous.
For those two months, I was able to satisfy my conscience with these thoughts, thinking that God would surely be happy with me for being so generous. At least, I thought, I wasn't like Jonah, running off in the opposite direction! This was at least going along the same route!
But deep inside, I knew that while those things were great, they were not what He was asking me to do. It was while I was on our anniversary weekend getaway that I realized that partial obedience is not really obedience. I was still calling the shots, setting the limits of what I will or won't do. I was willing to obey, yes, but only in those things that are convenient or comfortable.
When Jesus calls us to be His disciples, it needs to be on His terms, not mine. Robert Coleman writes, "If we have learned the most elemental truth of discipleship, we must know that we are called to be servants of our Lord and to obey his Word. It is not our duty to reason why he speaks as he does, but only to carry out his orders. Unless there is this dedication to all that we know he wants us to do now, however immature our understanding may be, it is doubtful if we will ever progress further in his life and mission. There is no place in the Kingdom for a slacker, for such an attitude not only precludes any growth in grace and knowledge, but also destroys any usefulness on the world battlefield of evangelism."
Those sobering words made me look closely at my own response. When I pick and choose what I want to obey, then I am really not obeying Him. My job is not to ask why He wants me to adopt. My job is to be willing to step up to that call and obey.
The fact is, discipleship costs. In our American culture, we are used to being able to vote or decide whether we like a leader or a law. That's not the way it works in the Christian life. I don't get to call the shots.
When I am willing only to give so much and not more, I am not really giving Him a gift at all. What makes a gift valuable to the Lord is not so much its worth and value but the sacrifice of love that the giver makes. When Jesus praises the widow who put in her two copper pennies, it is not the value of the pennies that moves Him, for certainly they were much less than all the "big" gifts the wealthy men were giving. They were valuable to Him because they were all she had to live on. The others gave out of their excess--it didn't hurt them any to give. But for her, it was giving all she had, even if it isn't much. When she gave, she was giving Him everything she had, reserving nothing for herself. (See Luke 21:1-4.)
What I was offering to the Lord didn't cost me anything. I was looking at the value in terms only on the outside. But what He is more concerned with is not what I give, but what I hold back. And I knew that I was holding back myself from His invitation.
I don't know where this adoption is going to take us. To be honest, I am not worried about the finances that it is going to take, for God has shown us over and over again that He will supply that. But I know that He has got something He wants me to learn. And that is far more valuable than anything I will ever sacrifice for Him.
Part 5 of Adoption Journey