Two years ago, my wife and I began the process of adopting a little boy from Africa. We’ve nicknamed him KJ, and he is beautiful. He’s not home with us yet, but not a moment goes by, where our thoughts are not on him and bringing him home as fast as we can. Each night when we put our 4 year old Justice to sleep, we finish our prayers with “…and please bring KJ home soon”. If it only were that simple.
International adoption is a very complicated thing. There are lawyers, social workers, judges, and government offices from two countries involved. Aside from the paperwork and the actual process of adoption, it would seem we have hit every conceivable road block on our way to this point. From simple spelling errors in legal documents, to serious issues dealing with government court systems. Add on top of that, KJ getting malaria and on another occasion having to have surgery to remove his tonsils. This road has not been smooth and straight. My wife has been brought to tears more often then she deserves. One time Adrien was having a hard time, and as a few tears rolled down her face, Justice looked up from his toys and asked “Is mommy crying because of KJ?” I told him yes. Slapping his knee he said “Man that baby is hard to get!” He sure is Justice.
The financial burden of this process has been easily overshadowed by the emotional cost of the highs and lows. Last Friday we received some more bad news, worse news then we have gotten before. KJs government has decided to suspend all adoptions for up to 12 months, to investigate if they are going to continue allowing international adoptions to occur.
Hearing that news was like getting kicked in the gut. Instantly demoralizing. I was angry. Not again, not another hurdle. We have come too far, invested too much for this to happen. I wanted to blame someone, find someone to hate on. To be real honest, I wanted to break something.
Those feelings were quickly interrupted by a moment of clarity. A realization whole week before this news, God had been preparing me to hear it. I had been getting songs together for that Sunday’s worship service, and spending time praying and reading the bible, and the theme that had been developing for the worship service, was to pray for faith.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
God wasn’t telling me that everything was going to work out the way I wanted. He wasn’t showing me that my emotional needs were the most important thing. It was the opposite. That it’s not about me at all. That however this stuff pans out, I need to put my faith in him. I went on to lead worship that Sunday, shared my story, and as a result experienced the most honest and heartfelt worship I’ve had in a long time.
There’s a passage of scripture in 2 Samuel 24, where David is wanting to build an altar for God. He offers to purchase the land and materials from a man, who in reply tells David to take it all for free, no cost. It’s what David said next, that caught me off guard.
“I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
David was unwilling to go before his God, with an offering he had not earned. David knew something about worship, something that can be hard to find sometimes in our highly produced, often consumer driven worship services. That the best worship, has a cost.