Terrorist attacks. My two sons and my husband are heading to London and Paris in two weeks for a WWII trip . . .
I pray. I reflect . . .
I put a poster board together for him Saturday, the day before he walked the aisle. The day before he took his seat among the others whose last name begins with a “J”.
I slipped a photograph out of a plastic sleeve—the first of him in a sleeper—the first of him after leaving the Russian orphanage where I held him for the first time.
He was 19 months old. He weighed 15 pounds. He was infested with intestinal parasites and scabies. He had a raging infection in both ears for who knows how long. He couldn’t crawl. He couldn’t stand. He couldn’t hold the Winnie-the-Pooh sippy cup we flew all the way across the Atlantic, just for him. And . . .
He didn’t smile. At all.
That was then.
Sunday, our 19 year-old walked the aisle all serious. Preparing to receive his high school diploma was a serious occasion. He told me he was nervous. It was like I felt, I think, when I walked the aisle to receive my doctorate. But that was me. This is him, a photo of a photo . . .
Some people don’t touch everything and have it turn to gold. Some people fail more than others. Some people don’t have as many options . . .
Then again, some people are well aware of their poverty (and I’m not talking money) and it’s the poverty that drives them straight into the arms of Jesus. Some people are blessed that way. They know their Savior and Lord because they don’t have so many other gods to seduce them and draw them away.
These kids have taught me more about life—about TRUE LIFE WITH GOD—than any other experience—than any other person—than any other anything.
So he sits there in his cap and gown. One of his favorite teachers gives the commencement address. And he tells me right after how he got “choked up” only once—how he had to wipe his eyes only once. And the once was when that teacher said this . . .
You’re all going to fail. But failing doesn’t mean you’re a failure.
I wonder how many of those 17 and 18 and a couple of 19 year-olds choked up at that statement. I wonder how many of those with white National Honor Society stoles and gold or silver cords draping down their black robes got choked up by that.
And then, I looked and saw the about-to-be-graduates with the last names beginning with “O”.
And I saw that young woman I met for the first time in my art class, in the seventh grade, I think. The young woman whose mother enrolled her in the Christian school in the same class as my son’s—first grade, I think—right after her father and older sister fell through the ice on that pond after Thanksgiving with skates on their feet and how the little one’s family of six instantly became a family of four.
I watched her from the bleachers with her mother and sister and the grandkids sitting behind me . . .
She’s an amazing Christian role model of a young woman. After all that?
Yes. We ALL have our trials and tribulations. We all have things that can break us down, break us apart. But all this breaking can break us FOR GOOD, with GOD.
God only knows, truly, what each of us needs to break us completely so He can be welcomed and planted deep into our hearts, our minds, our souls . . .
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (ESV)
Jesus is TRUE LIFE.
He turns our thinking upside down. He turns our hearts inside out. He FULL-fills the seeking, the hurting, the end-of-yourself pleading.
Yeah. Jesus. The Son of God. The Savior of the world. The Selfless Giver of all you could ever want but maybe don’t even know you need.
So he sits there, this son of mine, this adopted great GIFT of GOD to my husband and me, youngest of THREE. I gaze at him. Then, I lean over and kiss the man I traveled twice with to Russia to pick up all three in our arms and get out of “Dodge” before the government slammed the door shut on orphans. (In 1997, we were the last couple to get through the St. Petersburg, Russia court before Russian international adoptions were closed. For a brief but accurate understanding of the plight of Russian orphans, please click here.)
I watch him lead his row to the stage. I watch him shake hands with the principal and teachers as he receives that black binder with his high school diploma, all officially signed. I watch him step down from the stage.
We all need to step down from the stage.
This 19 month-old now 19 year-old . . .
All my faults flashing before me . . .
All the ways I’ve failed him . . .
This once orphan . . .
Is God enough?
Can God work ALL things for good?
Will God work all my failings as a mother for good?
I wonder . . .
But a bigger part of me just . . . plain . . . believes . . .
Based on HIS word . . .
That ALL things work together for GOOD for those who BELIEVE . . .
Because . . .
In the end . . .
It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s not about them.
It’s about GOD and His promises.
It’s about GOD who will have his way—this day—some day—always . . .
Even when we humans don’t think so . . .
Even when we humans don’t feel so . . .
I’m just a spiritual orphan now adopted who has adopted three orphans. I’ve bet my my life on the ONE who is worth betting all life upon.
The ONE who came in human form. The one who suffered more than any of us suffer. The one who bore all our sins. The one who rose again. The one who is coming. Again. The one who still calls to you. To me. To all.
Open the door of your orphan heart. Open the door to your ONE TRUE LOVE—the ONLY ONE who will never leave you—the ONLY ONE who will never forsake you—the ONLY ONE who will LOVE you as you desire to be loved.
Lover of the poorest in spirit, in ability, in economic standing, in you-name-it . . .
Jesus Christ . . .
Will you ask the ONE who stands at the door of YOUR heart and KNOCKS . . .
Will you invite Him in? Today? Right now?
There is a Peace available to us all, even in our worst turmoil, even when the world seems spinning out-of-control. His name is Jesus.
So, when I hear about all that’s wrong with the world—all that’s evil in the world—all that gets us down and glum . . .
I think of God’s Son who loves and cares for my son. I hope you will too.
There is NO situation to desperate for Jesus.
There is NO sorrow too deep for Jesus.
There is NO tragedy to horrible for Jesus.
God is GOD.
He will make all things all RIGHT.
On this, I’ve banked my life.
And I’ve seen the return on my investment, over and over again . . .
When my son walked up to me, cap and gown still on, and said to me . . .
Thank you, Mom. For everything you’ve done for me.
Your welcome, Son. But never forget this . . .
You’ve done more for me. Because of Christ. The “least” of these are FIRST in the Kingdom of Heaven. In Christ, my son, YOU are great. YOU are a walking miracle. Because of Jesus.