Well, January was a quieter month around here. And by “around here” I mean this little corner of the Internet that’s mine — my life in the flesh has been quite the opposite. It’s good to put online life on hold once in a while and just “do the things.” You know, the ones I tend to preach about here.
I spent the last month watching our church grow tremendously in a new home, taking some of our people to one of my favorite conferences, baptizing a dear friend of mine who recently gave her life to Jesus, and feeling re-envisioned and probably the most inspired I’ve been in a long time for why we do this Church thing.
I had intentions of writing about some of that today. Then I sat down and something entirely different came pouring out of my heart. So, here’s to hoping my awe-inspiring January revelation of Jesus and His beautiful Bride gets shared another day soon. Today, I suppose someone needed to read this instead…
A year ago today, I received a phone call that changed my life. If you’ve been here before, you probably know the story. We’d been struggling with infertility and had decided to put hopes of a family on hold until after we moved to Utah. We had thought about maybe adopting next, but we knew we needed to be settled in Salt Lake before we started the process.
The phone call that changed everything that day was a woman I knew who had become pregnant and wanted us to pray about adopting her baby. We were cautious — hesitant, even — as we moved forward in prayer from February 9 of last year. And then God did this thing only He can do. He made it so undeniably clear that our answer was to be yes.
Like, three different friends of mine having dreams and visions of us adopting that month kind of clear. People we hadn’t told, but God told, because that’s what He does — He speaks life into existence and He does it in a way that cannot be denied.
So we said yes. Oh, it was so sweet. I’ll never forget the night we made the decision & began the process. We drove to four different friends houses to tell them. I called another one of my best friends at like 1 am. We jumped and screamed and cried and sang praises to God. He had made a way where there was none.
As the next few months unfolded, that all changed. A woman we loved deeply, who was carrying our son, battling an addiction — she was in the fight of her life. Consequently, she was also in the fight of his life. On May 22, we would find out that he was gone. Aborted by a man who wanted to traffic his birth mom.
This is the kind of depravity that has no blueprint. What do you do? You don’t condemn a woman who’s in bondage like you will never know. You can’t, unfortunately, go after a man you know nothing about. Oh, that one makes my blood boil with a hatred for injustice. If you could know the thoughts I’ve had about what I would do if I ever met that man.
What do you do when your greatest thrill of hope suddenly turns into the most hopeless place you’ve ever stood?
I suppose I could write a book on the process of what the last year has looked like. But you know what I’ve found to be the most powerful weapon against hopelessness? Worship.
I sometimes laugh at the irony, that the loss of the boy we’d named “God will be praised” would be what taught me to praise Him like never before. God has a way of turning things upside down. He can’t lose. I love that about Him. But friends, in case you’re wondering, most of my praise this year has been an ugly wrestle of choosing it when I don’t feel like it.
I think sometimes we believe a lie that our praise is supposed to be this pretty, to-God-be-the-glory-because-everything-is-awesome sort of praise. More often than not I think our most beautiful places of worship are the moments when we choose a sacrifice of praise.
The kind of praise that costs you something when you have nothing to give. That’s the kind that I really believe marks us with the image of Jesus like nothing else can.
So I woke up today reliving the hope that I felt on this day a year ago, and I wrestled with God through some kind of hard questions. How could He speak so clearly, so out of the blue, and then let it end the way it did? I don’t think I’ll ever understand on this side of Heaven.
But there’s a story I felt like He reminded me of. In Daniel 3, there’s these three guys named Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego. Their king had ordered everyone to bow down to a false God, but they refused. When the king heard of this he told them that if they wouldn’t worship his god, they would be thrown into a fiery furnace to die.
I love the way they respond. They tell him that he can do whatever he wants with them, and their God will rescue them. But EVEN IF He doesn’t, they will not turn away from Him.
So they’re thrown into the fire, and instead of burning to death the king can see them walking right through it — unbound and unharmed. And with them, there was a fourth man. The king says of the fourth man walking around in the fire, “he looks like a son of the gods.”
Do you see where I’m going with this? Sometimes life throws us into the fire. I wasn’t there that day, and the book of Daniel doesn’t lend us a whole lot of commentary on what those three guys were thinking, but I have to assume that they probably counted the cost on their way to that furnace. There’s a good chance they thought, “Lord, we’re standing firm here. Please rescue us. We are going to die if you don’t.”
Here’s what I know is true of my last year: I walked through fire. I wondered often if I would make it out alive. But there was a son of God who walked with me, and here I am on the other side. Certainly not the same as I was before. And in so many ways, better.
There are things I’ll never understand. There’s a boy I won’t know fully until I get to Heaven. But there is a resolve in my heart that even if God didn’t do what I’d believed Him for, I won’t turn my back.
I will offer a sacrifice of praise. Because somehow, in a way I don’t understand and can’t fully explain, emptying myself before Him has healed me more than anything else.
And you know what? People need to know that hope is found in the most unlikely of places with Jesus.
So we walk through fire, singing praises all the way. Because He’s with us.