We returned last night from our seventeen day journey through China to adopt Rae Michelle Dear (formerly Yang Rui). It was a memorable trip, no major issues. We are thankful to be home and we are so very thankful for Rae. I know the journey has really only just begun, and there is much for me to learn, but I wanted to share a few thoughts that came to me as I was pondering the events of the last week or so while flying home yesterday. Already, through being Rae’s earthly father for about ten days, I have learned some important truths about my heavenly Father.
#1: God loves me more than I know! We have had some difficult days with Rae, especially in the beginning. Everything we did to try to help her, whether it was getting her to take a bath, brush her teeth, or stop jumping on the bed was because we loved her and wanted what was best for her. But she didn't understand that. Our actions didn't seem like love from her perspective. She often stubbornly rejected our warnings and instructions. If only she could understand how much we love her and how everything we say or do is an expression of that love. That makes me think… How often does the same situation happen between the heavenly Father and me, his adopted son? How often do I reject His warnings and instructions because on some level I foolishly question His love?
#2: There is a better way to live! Rae doesn't understand how much better life will be. She has been living in poverty. She has been living without the benefit of a family. She hasn't had proper medical care. Her future as a special needs child in the orphan system in China was very bleak. I know there is no guarantee her life will now be a bed of roses, but she will at least have her basic needs met, she will have a loving family, she will have good medical care, and she will have the hope of a great future. But she just doesn't understand. The institutional life of the orphanage is all she knows. She cannot comprehend what 'better' even is. She has no idea what she has missed out on. That makes me think… Is the same thing true when I push against the life my heavenly Father wants me to live? I am afraid that too often I wrongly think my life of selfishness and sin is the best life for me. I wonder what I am missing out on.
#3: I can never comprehend the depth of God’s love and the cost of the cross! Rae doesn't understand the sacrifice her family made to adopt her and bring her to America. She has no idea. She has no comprehension of what a thousand dollars is, much less many thousands of dollars. And not only was there a financial sacrifice but the major lifestyle change that comes with adding a new six-year-old to a family that is just beginning to enjoy the fruits of maturing children. She understands none of this, nor could she understand if we tried to explain it. That makes me think… How much do I really comprehend about the price the Lord paid to make my adoption as His son possible? I claim to have some understanding of the cross, the agony, and the shame that Jesus faced, but do I really? Or is it beyond my ability to understand just as our family’s sacrifice is beyond Rae’s ability to understand?
#4: My salvation does not correlate with my merit! Rae doesn't understand the significance and the value of her being chosen out of so many orphans in China and around the world. There is a better biblical word for this, but it could be said that she is pretty LUCKY. She was not chosen because of any merit of her own. She was not chosen because she had something to offer. She wasn't chosen because of her parents, her intelligence, her goodness, her beauty, or any other human measurement of worthwhileness. She was simply chosen by the providence of God. Only a handful of orphans get the chance that she has been given. That makes me think… The most valuable thing I have is my relationship with God. I am reminded of Ephesians 1:4-5 which says, “He chose [me] in Him before the foundation of the world, that [I] should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined [me] to adoption as [a] son … according to the good pleasure of His will.” Not because of any merit, but simply because of his grace, I am blessed beyond measure with salvation! The Lord convicted me; I responded to His working; He saved me by His grace.
#5: I need to better accept the Lord’s help! Maybe it is due to her institutional life for the last several years, but Rae is fiercely independent. She doesn't want me to help her with anything. There have been so many times in the last few days that I could have been such a blessing to her if she would have just let me help. I have watched her carry around a banana for an hour while being terribly hungry but refusing to let me help her peel it. As I am writing this we are in an airplane somewhere over Canada. She is trying to play a video game but can't get it to work because she is starting at the wrong spot. She refuses to let me help. She is angry because she can't get it to work. The solution is sitting next to her and it would take less than five seconds, but she wants to be independent. That makes me think… I wonder how frustrating it must be for the Lord when I insist on doing things my own way instead of leaning on His word and wisdom. I wonder how sad He must be when he sees me struggle in life when help is only a prayer away.
#6: The God of the universe takes pleasure in me when I honor Him! Rae has no idea about the pleasure and joy she brings to her new parents. Even on the most difficult days, we have rejoiced over her. The simple times when she has looked at me and said, "Xie xie babba" (thank you daddy) when I have done the smallest favors for her have set my heart ablaze with joy. That makes me think… I often forget (and I am sure I have never really understood) how the heavenly Father takes pleasure in me and my praise and worship of Him.
I could go on, and I probably will in the days to come. But for now I am enjoying my new daughter for the joy she brings and the lessons she teaches!