With the news I am about to tell you, I hope it will spur us to blog more often and you to frequent Unpluckable more.
If you have not heard already, Liz is pregnant! And if you had no idea, that is mostly because we have not made a lot of noise about it. The reason why will be explained below. Let’s just say, we don’t want to cause anyone the kind of pain that we felt when everyone around us was having children. There was a time I hated checking Facebook because every expectant mother felt it their duty to inform the world of her progress.
While that is great news, I wanted to take some time to tell you about what God has taught me these past 5 years of trials, failures, miscarriages, and blessings.
Liz and I just celebrated our 7th year of marriage. Glory to God!!! Two years into our marriage, we started “trying” for children. Finally, a year later Liz was pregnant. Shortly after finding out the great news (and telling all our family and friends over Christmas), Liz had a miscarriage. I have difficulty expressing the immense pain I felt at that time. Tears were (and still are) common. And I was left asking the question, “Lord, what are you trying to teach me?”
We continued to try for pregnancy. We went to the doctor for many different tests and non-evasive techniques to increase our chances. There was a run of about year and a half where we were so sorrowful every time we had to take a pregnancy test, knowing that if we get our hopes up, it would only hurt more finding the results were negative. Up until the recent past, 5 years or so, we experienced life like this. As I said above, I dreaded Facebook. It seemed like all my friends (and I mean ALL) were fertile and multiplying while we were left faking our delight for all of them. Inside, there was a tinge of jealousy and scorn.
All the while, I was trying to learn what God was teaching me. Low and behold, I realized that he had been teaching me 2 lessons (really the same lesson) that have greatly affected my service for him. First of all, he taught me sufficiency in his grace. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” At the same time, I was reading a listening a lot to John Piper (or JP as I know refer to him). One of his most famous quotes reinforced Paul’s words. He said, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” Think about that for a minute. Let the truth of that sink in. I realized that I was putting my sufficiency, satisfaction, and identity in being a parent. I was idolizing a child and a concept and not finding my satisfaction in Jesus. I realized that Jesus was all that I needed. I prayed that all my desires would be centered on him. That he would be my satisfaction and sufficiency.
It was at this point that the pain began to subside. That liberating truth freed me of the burden. I was also expanding my understanding of the gospel, which similarly taught me that salvation is not about getting stuff or heaven or forgiveness or pity or comfort or peace. The Biblical gospel presents salvation as getting Jesus. He became the supreme desire of my heart. I realized that if all I ever had was him, I had more than I will ever need. I don’t need children to be satisfied. My sufficiency is in Jesus and his grace!
The second lesson was one I would have never considered were it not for the miscarriage and years of baroness. God taught me more about his grace via adoption. I had some missionary friends in Africa adopting into their already large family. Their example taught me so much. Thank you, Nathan & Candace! I also read a book, Adopted for Life, which brought the reality to the forefront of my mind. What better way to display grace (undeserved, unmerited favor upon an individual or group of people) than to say to an absolute stranger, a child in this case who has experienced the terrible pain of being an orphan, and say “I want you to be in my family”?!?! This even goes against evolutionary thought to say that even though you are not mine biologically, you are mine in every other way, and I love you! I love you not because you came from my body but because I chose to love you. It reminded me of my adoption into the family of God. Chosen by God amidst my depravity and vile character. To be an heir of God and a co-heir with Jesus, the only word I could think of was “grace” yet again. It kept coming up again and again - grace. So Liz and I decided to adopt in Honduras. More on that in a bit.
That brings me to the present. Just before we left Honduras last spring, we started suspecting that Liz was pregnant. But we knew how much it hurt to get our hopes up, so we waited until we arrived in the states to test. We were so nervous, in fact, that Liz decided that she would take the test at 2am so no one was around. That meant not as much pressure and not as many people around to see or hear our cries. While I was sleeping soundly, Liz woke me (not an easy feat mind you) and told me the test was pregnant. No more sleep that night!
My initial reaction was, “Thank you, God! Thank you! You are a good God. I praise you.” In retrospect, I realize that such a response was not correct. The gratitude was right of course, but to bring up God’s goodness? That didn’t seem right. I knew that God was good whether Liz was pregnant or if we had another negative test. I knew that God was good whether this baby comes to full term or she has another miscarriage. God is good all the time. I realized that it was not the goodness of God I should be praising; it was his graciousness! Yet again, grace became the lesson he taught me. I was again assured that God’s grace is sufficient. I realized that this gift of pregnancy was undeserved. Despite that, God deigned to bestow this favor anyways. And for that I praise him all the more.
“Grace, grace, marvelous grace.” It was a 5 year, terribly painful lesson to learn. But it was a lesson well learned. We find out sufficiency in Jesus and his grace. He is our fulfillment and joy and desire. He brings satisfaction. And he causes us to seek to display similar grace to others. That means we are still wanting to adopt. That has not changed.
What has changed is that our adoption agency has the rule that if in the midst of adoption a pregnancy occurs (apparently this is typical), the baby has to be 12 months old before the adoption can continue. That means we plan on being in Honduras for at least another 2-3 years after this year to see this through. We would appreciate your prayers as well. Praise the Lord, living here is quite enjoyable for us. But I would venture that living anywhere is enjoyable so long Christ is my satisfaction.
Is he yours?