My body has been tense with stress for over two weeks. My mind has pondered at a constant pace, thoughts all frayed and loose and knotted. I have been so weary and most often confused and absolutely uncertain.
Those last few weeks of April teemed with uncertainty and our living, it all took shape in the form of a question mark.
Two little girls who needed a home and would we dare to say yes and do it? And I read this and that phrase we will be the people who will not turn away,
turned over and over in my mind, thumping steady as the words tumbled, just like the towels in my thirty-year-old dryer. I had read her words, the Canadian farmer’s wife who wrote heart and spoke truth, and I read them several times, crying harder every time.
Because I would say I’m staunchly pro-life and I spend time organizing events for the pro-life booth at the county fair and I march with the thousands in Washington D.C. and I put together a pro-life newsletter. So when I read that post, the one about the Gospel meeting with Gosnell, I felt the conviction settle heavy on my heart.
It’s so easy to get lost in the doing and lose sight of the vision. They hammered at my heart’s door, these words of the Voskamp farmer lady, who quietly said,
For Christ followers, it’s more than being pro-choice and pro-life — it’s about always being pro-the-least-of-these. The abortion debate is not so much about how we can somehow change the law, but right now change how we love. To have credibility in lobbying for laws against the abortion of babies, we must have the dependability of opening our doors for the welcoming of children.
If the compassion of the world is “We do not unwanted children born into the world,” then the compassion of the Gospel has to be far more powerful. The compassion of Christ-followers needs to literally and practically and sacrificially be: “We do want all the children born into this world.”
If we are truly pro-the-least-of-these: How does each and every Christian live in a way that witnesses to wanting all children, to welcoming all children, to wrapping around all children?
Those last few weeks in April, I wrangled through the mess of my own heart. The deep and intense longing to have children of my own, the four-year struggle through health issues and infertility, the ache of yearning to be a mother, and the struggle of wrestling with what being a mother might just mean for me.
Do I want all the children born into this world? Do I welcome all children? Am I wrapping around all children? Is my door open to all children? Is my heart?
We wrestled together, my carpenter man and me. We prayed and prayed and prayed.
I wanted to be willing to take them and I cried out to God, that He would remove every selfish motive from my heart. When I entertained the thoughts of what it would mean to raise those two girls I realized how shamefully self-possessed I am.
And after all the praying and crying out and laying down, after my heart slowly started to feel a little wonder and a little anticipation, after all of that grappling – we felt it, this sense of being held back from saying yes, a resounding no from God. And I was sure there was some mistake, because it didn’t make sense at all. What about the Gospel meeting with Gosnell and being pro-the-least-of-these and wanting all children?
What do you do when you go through all the process of making a decision and then face God shutting the door tight in your face? I went to ladies day at church to sew burp cloths for the pregnancy center.
And I stood there turning burp cloths right side out and God was there too, turning my heart right side out. Sheila told me there was a couple related to the two little girls, a couple who’d been praying for little people just like them and it looked like just maybe it would all work out. I stood there turning and felt this sense of peace wash over me. Being pro-the-least-of-these is simply being willing to be the one.
Later that day my friend Shaunda called. “So,” She paused awkwardly, I remember just how it was, “So I did something I hope you are okay with me doing.”
“So, do you remember how Amos & I put our names on the list for ministry with prison babies? Well, Laurie, the lady in charge of the prison baby placement called. They have a baby due in August and they need a home for it but I am due on August 2nd, so there’s no way…”
I stood there in my living room window and I remember staring out the window, feeling swallowed in an ethereal dream.
“I gave your number to Laurie and I hope that’s okay. She said she has some other places to check, so don’t count on her calling or anything. I just wanted you to know…just in case.”
Being pro-the-least-of-these is simply being willing to be the one. And when you are willing to be the one, expect anything.
Our names weren’t on a list and there had been a list. Laurie called us and we had three days to decide.
We said yes. I started hunting for baby deals at yard sales and we wrote a letter to the baby’s mother, and we told our families and several closest friends and I felt like I was totally living a dream.
Until we weren’t hearing back from the mother and we’d waited three weeks and we’d sent two letters. I was on the other side of the country, far away from my husband, when I heard the news that the mother had found someone else.
More than I struggled with the feeling of loss, that there would be no baby boy after all, I struggled with believing in the unfailing goodness of God.
My heart is tight and all knotted-up with a frenzied feeling of panic, like a fist squeezing all the excited anticipation and joy, wringing it all out, oozing, my entire body constricted with the fear that – Maybe this hope too, will be deferred.
I had asked those questions a week before she called with the bad news and I faced the reality of God unexpectedly answering a prayer and taking it right back.
“Maybe this is a test,” Ryan said, when he held me and I spit cynical words into the air. “Remember Abraham? God had promised a child and they waited and waited and waited. What did Abraham feel when he climbed the mountain with his miracle, God-given son and stood to slay his own flesh and blood? When God had promised Abraham a nation of descendants, how must Abraham have felt to prepare an altar to kill his own son? We must believe like Abraham, and have faith.”
“June 6, 2013… “Father God, I believe in You and Your goodness. I believe that You love me unfailingly…unconditionally…steadfastly. You are holy and You are good and Your love endures forever. I choose to trust in You and depend on You, even if Your ways do not always make sense to me. Lord, help me to live for You. My heart is weary of waiting but Your love is steadfast. You are good and I choose to believe this about You.
Reading in Exodus and found it so neat how it says that God “filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and all manner of workmanship” and “He hath put in his heart that he may teach…them hath He filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work…” I thought of Ryan and his desire to teach. I really do believe that God put it in Ryan’s heart to teach!! I just texted Ryan and told him that I believe that God will bring to a position of teaching! And then I thought…how God put it in my heart to be a mom and I’m saying it today – someday I believe, I will be a mom. I choose to believe this!”
Seven days from today, June 11th, I walked the streets of Pittsburgh with a small group of friends, celebrating a birthday. My phone rang and it was Laurie with good news. The baby’s mother changed her mind. The family member she thought could take her baby could not and she was sorry she had ever said no to us. Would we still be interested?
In a whirlwind week we have since received a letter of response…a beautiful letter…the mother saying herself, “God works in mysterious ways.” The day after that, we received the official paperwork naming us as official guardians for the remainder of her incarceration, once the baby is born.
When you are willing to be the one, to say yes to God no matter what, expect anything and never stop believing that He is unfathomably good.
Sometimes we wait a long, long time and sometimes we can’t see our way out of our very own dark, and I really do understand that. I’m not just saying that now, in the joy of answered prayer and unexpected blessing. I’m saying that because it is true and sometimes it is all we can do but hold on to that truth and say it, the cliché that sometimes twists hard in the innards of our soul, God is good all the time and all the time He is good.