When I was in high school, getting ready to graduate, I wanted to change the world. Then I started college and the drudgery of classes and papers dulled the vision for awhile. But after my junior year, I had the opportunity to go overseas on my first mission trip to Macau, a (then) Portuguese colony off of southern China. That summer was a turning point for me, as the Lord gave me the opportunity to see not just one but eight of my students come to salvation. These girls were ambitious, smart and well-educated, but the Lord gripped their hearts and they received Him as Lord and Savior. I kept in touch with them for about 10 years after that first meeting and witnessed their growth, baptism and fervor to share their faith.
It was at that point in my life that God revived my vision---but this time, for ministry. That summer helped me to realize that the best investment I can ever make is in people. It changed how I looked at any career decisions I made. I discovered that it really wasn't about the job, but the purpose for the job. I needed to look at my work, whatever it was, as a way to reach lives and help them to grow in Him.
I went on to go back to Macau for two more summers, with the last one being where Dan and I served together for the first time. Yes, we started our relationship in ministry together. When we got married, we knew that we wanted to spend our lives serving together, and we did. We spent 7 years in campus ministry and it was a wonderful season of our lives.
But somehow, somewhere along the way, I lost that vision again. I'm not sure when it happened, but little by little, my goals began to change. As the kids started entering school, I began to look around more at the lifestyles of their peers and began wanting to be able to provide them with that kind of life too. I certainly didn't want them to miss out on the "good things" in life!
Finally though, I began to realize that there simply wasn't enough of me to live that kind of life, not to mention the finances that are required to support that lifestyle. My goal became to live safe, to live simply, and do the best we can with what we have. Sure, I might have to give up some of my bigger plans for now, but I knew that when the kids grew up, I'd have a chance to pursue them later. I patted myself on the back for my sacrifices.
When this adoption opportunity came up though, it bumped into all those goals. First of all, I have no experience at all with Down Syndrome individuals. Second, it was going to change my comfortable schedule and routine. And third, like I had mentioned in my first adoption post, it is highly likely that my big dreams and plans may need to be surrendered permanently!
It was at this point where I sensed the Lord's rebuke. Is this all that life is? What happened to the girl who wanted to change the world? Is life all about comfort? Convenience? Ease? Is this why I mother---to raise good kids so that I look like a good mother and receive praise from others?
I realized how small my world had become, how small my vision had shrunk. I had to repent and ask the Lord to change my heart, to make it grow again, so that I can begin to grasp the things that are near and dear to His heart and not just settle for the creature comforts of this life.
Because when all is said and done, what I learned back in my college years is still true. People are still the best investment I can make. It doesn't matter if this person has a special need or not. My riches (which doesn't amount to much) will stay here. Any experiences I have just for my own pleasure and self-gratification will stay here. But when I pour my life into another to make it richer, to represent Jesus and provide a bridge so that she can connect with Him, I am doing something that is worth so much more.
I am praying that our children will catch this message and value as we work together to care for Anah. I hope that they will have a love for people over things, that their vision and heart for the Kingdom of God will expand, and that they will be inspired to live their lives for God and God alone.
How about you? What is your vision? What do you dream of? Where do you invest? Even as Christians, we can fall into this trap. We live like C.S. Lewis describes:
"It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
Let us not be far too easily pleased with the things of this world. This is not our home. We're not staying here. May He strengthen our weak desires so that wherever we are, we will live whole-heartedly for Him.
Part 3 of Adoption Journey