We are fresh off the heals of a wonderful week at Family Camp. Every year, we pack it up and travel 7 hours North up to Covenant Point, a camp in the U.P. of Michigan to enjoy a week of fun and fellowship with some of our church family. We sing and learn and swim and play games and eat great homemade camp food, all while smelling pine trees and enjoying a pristine Northwoods lake in the backdrop of every scene. It’s my favorite week of the year.
The Northwoods of the midwest provide a sort of escape from reality. We are no where near a Starbucks and Target is out of reach- it’s a beautiful thing. We are away. And in this away-ness we have time to think and ponder and run around with our kids and just be.
This year Lars, who serves as camp pastor during our week of Family Camp, worked with the theme of landscapes in Scripture. We talked about mountains, and rivers and deserts and lakes and starry skies. Scripture lead the way to great conversation, both with our kids and in the adult, ‘coffee talk’ time, where we are kid-free and have time to share.
On the day Lars addressed lakes he talked about the storm on the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus lay sleeping in the boat as his disciples were sure they would drown, and how Jesus spoke, “Peace, Be Still” and faithfully calmed the storm. Lars invited the group of twenty-some adults to share about a time when God faithfully calmed a storm in our lives, a time when God ‘showed up’ BIG to bring peace to a storm.
As the group began sharing I wondered at whether I would have the boldness to share the storm I had faced early in the adoption process. I wasn’t sure I wanted to share something so intimate, so in a way, strange. My storm would make some people wonder or feel uncomfortable. We went around the circle one by one – I was second to last. And then out it came. My storm and my story about Jesus ‘showing up’. I’m a big believer in giving testimony. I think it’s something often lost in Evangelical America. So I went for it. It felt like a safe enough crowd. Some people who knew me well, others basic strangers, I would never see again this side of heaven. And on I shared.
My storm began in mid May of 2012. Lars and I had very recently decided to adopt from China. Our application had just been accepted by our agency and we were started into our paperwork. It was a weeknight evening and I was turning lights off, as I so often do before heading up to bed. Lars had already headed up. I was standing in the kitchen turning off the mudroom and kitchen lights and in a quiet moment while standing in the dark I heard three words very distinctly. “Don’t do it.”
I stood there stunned. When I say, I heard, I don’t mean audibly heard, I mean in my head, or heart or somehow, but the words were clear and left a chill up my spine. I took a breath, thought, ‘what in the world?’, and knew instantly the words were in reference to the adoption, but after standing for a quick moment longer, I swiftly convinced myself it was my own nerves talking. We had just made the biggest decision of our lives, of course I was nervous and it was to be expected that I might have doubts, right? Except truly, in my heart of hearts, I didn’t feel doubtful. I put the thought, the words, aside and went to bed, unsettled. I didn’t mention it to Lars.
Fast forward a couple days. I stood in the kitchen late at night, turned the lights out, and just as before, clear as could be, I heard “Don’t do it.” This time I stopped. I stood, rather sickened, wondering who’s voice as I hearing. Is it the voice of wisdom, a voice of doubt or a voice of discouragement. Two things occurred to me. One – I was standing in the dark. I have always hated the dark. I have always been hyper aware of the link between physical darkness and spiritual darkness. In the dark you are susceptible. In the dark you are vulnerable. In the dark you are blind. And two- the voice was not familiar. It was not a safe voice. Not a voice I knew. Not my own voice.
As I stood there thinking, it became abundantly clear what was going on. I was being discouraged. This was not God’s voice and I knew it. Over and over God had said, “do it!” God had set this adoption dream in my heart as a teenager. He had confirmed it in my early college years. He had affirmed the dream as good and he had brought us to the moment of decision to pursue it at this time. God was saying, Yes, Go, Do this. This I knew.
So I walked upstairs, fearful of this voice of discouragement but wanting to fight. But how? I lay in bed, Lars was already asleep, and I stared out into the darkness of our bedroom. I wanted the right words. I prayed for words of truth to come against this lie. I felt alone and I was shaking. I continued to pray, asking for words. And then they came. I said, out loud, to a dark room, “God is faithful.” And just like that a wash of peace and calm and tears swept over me.
Those were the words. The truth that overcame the lie. The truth is that this dream was from God, and He would be faithful to bring it to fullness. He had propelled us to the decision. He would raise the thousands of dollars we didn’t have. He would decide it would be Lydia, born a month before our application was even received. He would be in every detail of the process. And all I had to do to find peace in the storm was to proclaim him faithful.
I rested that night knowing nothing- no discouragement, no lie would ever again seep into the adoption process. And it didn’t. It would be weeks before I would share all this with Lars. And when I did, he was quick to say, “Why didn’t you wake me up? Why didn’t you tell me?” And honestly, I don’t know why. It’s not like me to keep anything from him. I think the experience felt raw and strange and somehow precious all at the same time and I didn’t know how to express it, how to share it without it somehow losing it’s significance for me.
But there I was up at camp on a sunny Thursday morning, sitting in a circle with old friends and new, sharing this experience. And it felt safe and good and even exciting to speak of God’s faithfulness. To give testimony to God calming a storm. To give testimony to truth winning the day.
As I write this Lydia is upstairs sleeping. She is safe, she is loved, she is no longer an orphan. And no discouragement, no lie will ever keep me from seeing God’s faithfulness in her, because her precious life is my every day testimony.
God is faithful.