“And to think, if I had chosen to simply remain safe, I could’ve missed it. I could’ve missed Him.”
~Steven Curtis Chapman
I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot lately. My husband and I just returned from a trip to Maria’s Big House of Hope in China in which we spent a great deal of time loving on, playing with and caring for orphans that have special needs. Their conditions range in severity from very mild to terminal. The effect this trip had on our lives and hearts is hard to even put into words. It was life-changing.
When you’re a busy stay at home mom with four kids ages 8 and under, the thought of going on a mission trip to China for 10 days sounds a bit ludicrous. I thought so myself when I first heard His voice. But, it was clear from the moment I found out about this trip that we were called to go. Sure, I questioned if I was hearing God or if this was just some crazy idea I made up in my head at first, but quickly God confirmed to us that we were called to go. I got up the courage to start telling people (with clenched teeth) fully prepared to hear the “Oh. Wow,” (which translates to “Oh. Wow. You ARE Crazy!”) response from many. While I did get this response from some, the majority of people were excited to pray and support us in this calling.
We had to raise $9,000 (in about 2 months) to cover all of our expenses, so we quickly started selling t-shirts. We raised the money for our deposit and about another $1,000, then the flow of funds coming in came to a quick halt. I tried several different fundraising efforts which I thought were great ideas, but every time it was like running smack into a brick wall!! Nothing. Not even $1 would be given. I started to question if I really had heard His voice. Was I just being stupid? Was I endangering my life by traveling across the world? What kind of crazy mother does this? What if my kids became orphans in the process of me trying to care for orphans? Suddenly, I was lost in the noise of confusion in my head.
The days went on, and the first deadline for our trip money came and went. We had nothing to turn in. I was certain God told us to go, so what the heck was He doing? I’ve told all these people about the call God gave us to go to China, and now we aren’t even going to be able to go? My loving husband would gently remind me that God did in fact tell us to go. Since it was His idea I could stop freaking out because He had it all under control and didn’t need my help. It was hard for me to let it go and trust, but eventually I did. Then one day, two weeks before our final money deadline, while talking with a friend on the phone, God showed us what to do to raise the remaining $7,000 we needed. We were to host an event that would be in two weeks. After a crazy fast two weeks of planning, He did it. We raised $7,200 in one night! Only God could do that. So it was official, we were going to China!!!!
Once the adrenaline from crazy fundraising subsided, my little fears began to creep back in. I was pretty sure that I must be crazy. The thought of being away from my kids for 11 days was making me sick. I even thought to myself, “Why am I doing this? I should be staying at home with my little children safe in our little bubble! What if I die?!?” I prayed a lot, and God reminded me over and over how He had made this all come together, not me. He invited me to be a part of it. I could choose to stay safe, or I could choose to step out and see what He had in store for us. Thankfully, I told Satan to shut it and proceeded to kiss my babies goodbye (with a few tears shed by me), and my husband and I were on our way to China!!! And the heart change began.
If you search through the Bible, you will find that there are three groups of people who God consistently mentions again and again. They are widows, orphans, and strangers. If God takes the time to repeatedly refer to these groups of people, then that tells me they are very dear to His heart. He repeatedly gives instruction (Isaiah 1:17, James 1:27, Deuteronomy 24:21, Exodus 22:22-23, Deuteronomy 10:18a, Isaiah 10:1a-2b, Jeremiah 22:3b, Malachi 3:5a, Jeremiah 49:11a, John 14:18, Psalm 10:14b, Psalm 10:17b-18, Hosea 14:2c, Deuteronomy 24:19, Job 29:11-13) about caring for them and tells of His love and protection for them. This reminds me that before I became a Christ follower I had no Heavenly Father. I was an orphan. Yet Christ, in His great love adopted me into His family through His sacrifice on the cross. I could not help but be reminded of His great love and His great example of adoption when I was with these sweet orphans.
The best way that I can describe my time with these special children, the orphans, is to say that I strongly felt the presence of the Lord wherever they were. I wasn’t sure what to expect when preparing for our trip other than sadness, but it never crossed my mind that I would sense His presence so strongly. I think I might have even thought I would sense the opposite. My heart felt a range of emotions while I was there from heartbreak and pain to joy and laughter, but in each emotion God showed me more of Himself. He showed me Himself through these precious children. One night I was extremely upset after visiting a beautiful little girl the same age as my daughter that has a terminal heart condition. On the outside she was beautiful and looked like a healthy little toddler. But on the inside her body was fighting to live and losing the battle. My heart could not take it. I began to pray and ask why. Why God, do these children have to die? Why do they have to be orphans? Why can’t this change? And then gently I heard His voice say, “I see them.” Then I remembered John 14:18 that says “No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.” It all began to come together for me. He not only sees them but He he holds them. He was there. They were not alone. While they may not have an earthly father, their Daddy was (and is) there holding them all day and all night long. Suddenly, the strong sense of His presence there all made sense. What a blessing it was to be in the presence of those He holds so dear to His heart. God continued to show us Himself throughout the week, and by the end of our trip my husband and I both knew that God was calling us to adopt an orphan with special needs from China. Two days after we returned home we started the process to do just that. It is again another huge leap of faith as we do not know where the money will come from to fund this adoption but we know Who does. We know this new journey will be exciting and stretch our faith even more.
When I look back on the events of the past few months from hearing God’s call to go to China to battling all my fears while preparing to go to our current journey of adoption, this statement by Steven Curtis Chapman so adequately sums up my thoughts: “And to think, if I had chosen to simply remain safe, I could’ve missed it. I could’ve missed Him.” Oh what a tragedy it would have been if I had missed Him. Yet, I’m so thankful that this time I didn’t!
I think back on my life and wonder how many times I did miss it. How many times I missed Him trying to give me a little glimpse of Himself because I was afraid, too busy, or just self absorbed. Friends, we are not called to live a life of safety. He calls us to get out of the boat and walk on water! And when we do, we can be assured we will see Him. I’m turning in my safety jacket for good and never going back. When He calls, I’m telling my fears to shut it, and I’m answering a resounding YES! I’ve experienced Him and I don’t ever want to miss another opportunity again.
As I examine my own life I hope you will join me and look at yours. Are there times in your life where you may have missed it? Thank goodness He never stops inviting us to experience Him. He has given each one of us a unique passion and gift that He wants to use, and in turn we get to know Him in a deeper way. Is there something He has put in your heart to do that you’ve been ignoring because you were afraid, too busy, or just haven’t stopped to listen? Whatever it is don’t go another day and miss it! It’s time to take off the safety vest and get out there and be who He has created you to be! He has all the details covered. All He needs is a willing heart that says, “Yes!”
Jesus I thank you that no matter how many times in the past we may have missed “it” you are always there waiting to give us another chance to experience You. I pray that your Holy Spirit would come and empower us to boldly say YES to whatever you call us to. Lord help us to be still and listen to your voice so that we may be a part of the amazing things you are doing. Thank you for your love. Amen.