I just finished reading Ted Dekker's Circle trilogy: Black, Red, & White. It's a great trilogy to read if you have the time. Anyway, one of the challenges in the book was a struggle between those in "the Circle" to see Christ's Bride in people of "the Horde". The Horde is stricken with a disease that makes them smell horribly and causes their skin to turn white and fall off. Not a pretty picture. One character in particular goes through a struggle to convince the others that their view of the Horde is wrong...they should be seeing them through the eyes of Christ as part of the Bride He is trying to woo. I won't tell you the end of the story, but I will say I was convicted that too often I allow myself to be put off by the outward appearance of those I come in contact with. I only see their "disease". I rarely view them the way Christ does. It was hard to admit to myself that in this way, I was acting very Pharisaicle. (is that a word?)
As I pondered that the last week, the Lord brought in His second lesson and it dealt with our adoption. As we initially discussed our openness to specific children and medical issues that they might have, we looked at it from a very practical view point. We're missionaries and probably won't have the ability to handle some of the special needs children like those who are HIV+ It made reasonable sense at the time. Then God...stepped in and questioned me. Why was I willing to accept any child with any challenge He might send me via my womb, but I was so quickly setting boundaries on the children He wanted to bring us via adoption? It was a smack in the face. We hadn't really taken time to ask Him what His opinion was in this situation. We just assumed He would see it our way. So, I tentatively asked Him what He thought...
"Whatever you do to the least of these...you do to ME."
It broke my heart and even as I write this brings tears to my eyes. How did I miss Him so easily?! He was standing there in front of me all the time. Those children are His bride just like me and even more powerful...those children are my opportunity to serve Jesus. As I open my heart to them and their pain, I am opening my heart to Jesus, to embrace HIS heart and HIS pain. What an honor! I was floored. The next day, I discussed what I had been shown with the Major and we have begun a season of prayer to discern how the Lord wants us to move forward and what openness HE wants us to have...not necessarily what openness we're comfortable with.
But what about the practical side??? Yes, I can hear some of you asking that with great concern in your voices. I asked Him the same thing...and His response silenced me.
"Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Light."
He assured me He would provide. If I gave birth to a child with diabetes,there would be no doubt that we would find a way to provide the needed medicine and care wherever we were in the world...why should it be any different with a child that comes to us through adoption? God withholds NOTHING from us who have come into His family through adoption...as His children, why would we act any different?
The final lesson came via an experience we had last night. We had taken a crew of the cadets contra-dancing for the first time. For those of you who haven't gone before, contra-dancing seems to draw in some pretty interesting characters...people who most of us would probably never talk to or avoid at all costs. Word got around quickly that we were from a Christian University and I was very aware of the huge witnessing opportunity the cadets had that evening. As the evening progressed, I was very disappointed in their actions. In fact, I was so disappointed that for the first time, I pulled the group aside and gave them a very harsh chastisement. They were to be Christ that night...and their actions were more like Pharisees. Where was the humility? Where was the principle of seeing past the outside? Where was Jesus? Jesus not only hung around with weird people, but HE reached out and touched the most diseased. They had not left the scent of Christ...but of judgmentalism and arrogance.
As I drove home alone that night thinking about what I had just said to the cadets, my heart became soft again as I realized I wasn't alone in the car. Jesus sat next to me with a small smile on His face.
"You're getting it daughter."
"Am I, Lord? I know what you're telling me and yet I'm still nervous. I'm still afraid to reach out and touch them. I know I will when the time comes, but I'm afraid I won't do it in love, but only out of duty and obedience to You."
What He said to me next nearly broke me right there in the car:
"You will feel love, my daughter....because you will be touching ME!"