Thursday, August 15, 2013

Not the Shortest Way

When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them on the road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that way was the shortest way from Egypt to the Promised Land…God led them along a route through the wilderness…”
(Exodus 13:17-18a)

We have been praying for God to open the door called The Shortest Way Possible for our adoption to be completed. Joined by many who have been faithfully praying with us on this journey, we asked Him specifically last week to give us favor in the eyes of those in authority, so they would grant us special approval. And God said “no.”

His way for us was not the shortest way.

So we praised Him with our mouths—for providing a previously unheard of way for our US adoption paperwork to be extended for another 3 months. AND for changing the hearts of those in authority so that they are now willing to help us secure matches for both boys next month when their files go online, though the “normal” adoption route for special needs children.

But in our hearts we grumbled.

“God, you could have done it. And saved us a lot of time and added hassle. How can we make it through another intense 2-3 months like this past month has been? Why not The Shortest Way Possible?”

But it clearly wasn’t God’s way.

Charly led our family in a time of confession on Sunday, and together we asked for God’s forgiveness toward our underlying attitude of discontentment with His plan.

We trust and believe that this is the perfect path God has chosen and laid out before us. Let us walk in total acceptance, in step with Him, free from complaining, filled with genuine joy and thanksgiving. For the great I AM has moved mighty mountains for us. And He has more to teach us on this longer-than-we-were-hoping-for route through the wilderness. Maybe more for the boys in the orphanage too before they join our family.

One of my favorite allegories is Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. I reread part of it yesterday and was especially struck with the following passage, as I reflected on our extended adoption journey—which has taken us through the desert— these past 6 years. It has obviously not been The Shortest Way, but it has been God’s Best.

The Shepherd in the story promises to take Much-Afraid up to the High Places where he will turn her crippled feet into hinds' feet. But the journey is an incredibly difficult one and leads her into places where she would rather not go:

“Oh, no,” she cried. “You can’t mean it. You said if I would trust you, you would bring me to the High Places, and that path leads right away from them. It contradicts all that you promised.”

“No,” said the Shepherd, “it is not contradiction, only postponement for the best to become possible.”

Much-Afraid felt as though he had stabbed her to the heart. “You mean,” she said incredulously, “you really mean that I am to follow that path down and down into that wilderness and then over that desert, away from the mountains indefinitely? Why” (and there was a sob of anguish in her voice) “it may be months, even years, before that path leads back to the mountains again. O Shepherd, do you mean it is indefinite postponement?”

He bowed his head silently, and Much-Afraid sank on her knees at his feet, almost overwhelmed. He was leading her away from her heart’s desire altogether and gave no promise at all as to when he would bring her back. As she looked out over what seemed an endless desert, the only path she could see led farther and farther away from the High Places, and it was all desert.

Then he answered very quietly, “Much-Afraid, do you love me enough to accept the postponement and the apparent contradiction of the promise, and to go down there with me into the desert?”

She was still crouching at his feet, sobbing as if her heart would break, but now she looked up through her tears, caught his hand in hers, and said, trembling, “I do love you. Oh, forgive me because I can’t help my tears. I will go down with you into the wilderness, right away from the promise, if you really wish it. Even if you cannot tell me why it has to be, I will go with you, for you know I do love you, and you have the right to choose for me anything that you please.”

Complete surrender.

I believe that when God says, “no” to the Shortest Way, He invites us to trust that His “postponement is for the best to become possible.”

And His best is always worth the wait.

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