Sorrow and Joy–these are the two feelings that often stir a tornado in my heart…keeping me want to stay forever close to Jesus.
When you walk with Jesus, you learn quickly that much of His ways do not make sense. The path of following Him is often paved with both sorrow and joy–many times not making much sense but always carrying an overwhelming weight that whatever difficulty may come–it is worth it…after experiencing over and over the beauty and joy of His plans. In Isaiah 55:8 God declared: “My thoughts are not like your thoughts…
…and my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” [NIV version]
This Easter–while I was in the Family Christian Bookstore picking up a few things for the children’s Easter baskets (with the goal to place things in their baskets that would foster their own walks with the Risen King)–ran in with joy, but was quickly overcome with sorrow. I felt the tornado of His ways in my heart again…as things don’t always make sense to this mommy…
Richard and I are stepping out in faith to bring home a 15 year old princess from the Ukraine this summer for a hosting program. She will be with us for 5 weeks–and during her stay, she will turn 16 and age out–being unable to be adopted…EVER. Knowing her story…and knowing what happens to orphans that age out in Ukraine–my heart for a little girl who is already becoming precious to me is creating a tornado of feelings. After aging out, more than 60% are forced to become prostitutes–another large percentage gets into drugs–and the other large percentage commits suicide within ONE year of aging out…because their other choices don’t look very promising. As I picked up things in the bookstore for my 4 children at home…I thought about getting her something for Easter and putting it in a little hope chest for her…to begin to dream FOR those who aren’t in a place to dream for themselves…and later share these things with her. Nothing seemed to be fitting for this princess and a wave of frustration for the lot she has carried consumed me as I stood there.
I thought I’d grab something simple. I looked at the picture frames…all with quotes…like this:
“Love is Family…”
“Faith, Family, Love…”
“Family is Forever…
No…those won’t do.
Those just won’t work.
There’s too much sorrow in those for this sweet one…so I turned the corner.
I stood in the baby girl gift section.
Little frames with tiny footprints…with “Every good and perfect gift is from above” inscribed on the bottom…blankies and lovies so soft and sweet.
No…these won’t do either.
But did she have sweet little things like these?
Did she know how much she is loved?
I forgot why I even came in here.
I listened to a customer complain. And I wanted to pitch a little 2 year old fit right there. But this…this is why Jesus came. To heal the broken-hearted…to tell us to love others as if we were loving Him…to calm the storm–even in our hearts.
I came to pick up something for baskets but now all I could think about what the plight of this princess across the world I’ve yet to meet.
What is your plan Lord? What are you going to do with this???
I did find something for the children in that store–but I drove away distracted and thinking about a 15 year old little love across the ocean.
Wondering what I was doing the day this good and perfect gift was born…
I got home and got out some of my old journals. I remembered as I read…about 15 years ago…this summer…really giving over my desires to be a mom to the Lord. I wanted to be a mom SO badly that I just thought for SURE that wasn’t going to be His plan for my life. (Why do we ever do this?? Our God is good–and when we give Him our hearts–and when we line our hearts with His–He truly wants to give us the desires of our hearts!)
Reading this journal took me back–to a miracle that happened there in my prayer closet…I was kneeling giving my desire to be a mommy to him…I told him that I would do whatever He wanted…but please–please–please let me be a mommy…even if it meant being a special mother at an orphanage for 20…just some way–I’d love to be a mommy to many Lord. And out of no where I heard a baby cry. (I know this is crazy–especially because I was in a place on university grounds where there were no babies). I jumped up–ran to the window and looked out–because THIS is how CLEARN and loud the sound was. And…I saw…NOTHING.
I knew in my heart–this was God simply telling me that I was going to be a mommy one day–some how–and to just grab for His hand and trust Him. And although this precious princess across the world may not be mine forever, but only for the summer–this was the same year she was born…the same year I relinquished my desires to Him and to trust Him with how He would lead my life.
I look back on my journals–and I see my prayers…but more than anything–I see HIS FAITHFULNESS. I pulled out another journal from this time in my life 15 years ago–and I am reminded that some things never change–like the tornados in our heart…the tornados of sorrow meeting joy–and why they often stir themselves together until we get to heaven. I am reminded how these two things will always be–but it will be the Lord’s plan over these things…in the end that are far better than we could ever imagine. This is written in my journal from when I was a 20 year old college student…:
“Come child, let us journey together.”
“Where shall we go Father?”
“To a distant land–another kingdom. So the journey will be long. Yes, we must travel every day.”
“”When will we reach our destination?”
“At the end of your days.”
“And who will accompany us?”
“Joy and sorrow.”
“Must sorrow travel with us?”
“Yes, she is necessary to keep you close to me.”
“But I only want joy.”
“It is only with sorrow that you will know true joy.”
“What must I bring?”
“A willing heart to follow me.”
“What shall I do on the journey?”
“There is only one thing you must do–stay close to me. Let nothing distract you–always keep your eyes on me.”
“And what shall I see?”
“You will see my glory.”
“And what will I know?”
“You will know my heart.”
The Father stretched out His hand and the child knowing the great love her Father had for her placed her hand in His…and they began their journey.
Fifteen years ago, the Lord made it very clear (and beautifully understood) to me that this journey will be one of both sorrow and joy. I want to only welcome joy–but as we trust Him and follow Him to love the hurting–there will be sorrow to face as well. In the end though–we can trust that His purpose and plan will be far better than we could ever imagine.
His life…modeled this from the beginning of time. Before Adam and Eve bit the apple in the Garden of Eden–God knew He would sacrifice His Son for the sin of the world…and their first act of sin pained His heart deeply as He watched knowing the sacrifice He would one day make would be far greater than any sacrifice we would ever be faced with. His love never ceased–and even as He watched there was celebration in His heart because He knew the end of the story…how sin would lose it’s sting and how Christ would have victory over sin and death.
Philip P. Bliss wrote the hymn “Hallelujah! What a Savior” about this holy sacrifice. He shared this hymn for the sake of prisoners he was sharing the gospel with through his address entitled “Man of Sorrows”. It is said that many converted to Christ that day–and they date their conversion to his address and hymn. Weeks after sharing this hymn, he died after escaping from a train wreck and returning back into the train to save his wife. That day–they went to see their Savior together after a life well lived sharing the gospel. These are the words to his last hymn:
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Our lives…when given to Christ–will not often make sense to the world…or even to us. Jesus’s disciples had a good idea how Christ should handle Himself–and they scratched their heads and were even embarrassed at how their King chose to humble Himself instead of ride in on chariots. Really–it just didn’t make sense. It also didn’t make sense why God would love me so much…love you so much…love all of us so much…to send Jesus to die in our place…for our sin.
Being followers of Jesus–our lives should resemble His. Which means–at first glance…or even at fifth glance;)…much of our lives won’t make a lot of sense at first.
“My thoughts are not like your thoughts…
…and my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”
And on the third day…something happened far beyond anything you could imagine. He rose from the dead…and everyone knew He was King! There will be joy and sorrow in our walks as we follow His will for our lives…but where there is sorrow (deaths)…there will also be resurrections and new life.
We scratch our heads as we step out in faith on the journey He leads us on–“Lord, what are you calling us to? What are you up to here? I THOUGHT you wanted us to do this or that? This doesn’t really make sense…BUT…but…but your ways are higher than my ways…your thoughts are higher than my thoughts–YOUR WAYS ARE FAR BEYOND ANYTHING I CAN IMAGINE!!! So once again…I am going to trust you!”
Thank you Lord for the tornados of joy and sorrow that so often stirs our hearts–and thank you Lord that your ways are higher than our ways…and your plans for our lives are better than anything we could imagine on our own!
So while the world may look into our lives and worry…they may question or wonder…they may doubt or shake their heads–because to them–it doesn’t make much sense either. And I’m thankful that it doesn’t…because that just proves that we’re NOT the ones writing our story. One thing I do know is this–the Lord is doing something in my heart to teach me how to identify with and love a little princess across the world that I can’t wait to meet. I can’t wait to see what He wants to do and how He will use all of this for His great glory.
Lord–we ask you for more resurrections and miracles in the lives of those we love…over the children you continue to trust into our care…and blessings over the love in our home. I confess questioning my ability to homeschool the children and if they are learning everything they need to…because really–that was me comparing and all You are calling me to do is to raise little ones who know and love you…and who will take their little hands in yours one day…to begin their own personal journeys. I trust You Lord. Help us all to trust you more. Amen!
Love and blessings to you all this Easter!
P.S. Sorry no Easter pictures…those will follow tomorrow:)