This post is part of "Life on the Inside", which is a series that gives a glimpse into our adoptive family's daily life. Please read this series with a discerning attitude that is quick to listen and slow to speak.
Due to the sensitive nature of this series, comments have been disabled. However, you can always email me at [email protected].
Well, this one is a tough post to write. As we have approached the end of six years of seminary(!) and the first time that neither of us will be in school, we've been seeking the Lord's direction for the next phase of life. We entered marriage and seminary with a particular set of dreams: to work in vocational pastoral ministry, either in domestic church planting or overseas missions. Our focus has been and continues to be to make Jesus known, particularly in areas of the world without a prevalent Christian influence.
With the rapid approach of graduation, however, came a harsh dose of reality: the needs of our children do not currently permit full-time ministry in any location other than Waco, Texas (where we have significant family support). In several interviews in which PJ has been a finalist, we have disclosed the reality of our daily lives and the particular restrictions that come with parenting our children. In God's good providence, these constraints have contributed to the end of the interview process in every case. Close friends and family have encouraged us to set aside the pursuit of overseas ministry or church planting for the time being, and we know that they are right.
I'm in tears as I write this for several reasons.
We love our children so very much, and it pains us to witness their struggles.
It is excruciatingly difficult for me to watch my husband set aside his dreams for the good of our family after pursuing his goals with so much effort. (He has a 90-hour graduate degree, people!)
We are constantly saying goodbye to people who are leaving seminary to do what we had hoped to do.
Our God is so good and we trust Him completely, but the road ahead is unfamiliar and nothing like we expected.
It's a really hard season of dying to self and waiting and trusting.
I know that we are neither the first nor the last parents to sacrifice personal dreams for the sake of their children. I know of instances in which my own parents did that, and I'm so grateful for it. And because of Romans 8:28, we know that whatever lies ahead is for our good and His glory. The main thing that the Lord has taught me over the last several years is that the "good" promised in this verse doesn't mean having everything I want in my Best Life Now. It means knowing and loving Him more. It means having more and more sin ripped out of my life. It means longing for heaven and not being attached to this temporary world. It means valuing my salvation a whole lot more than I ever did when life was easy.
As I let this post sit in a pile of drafts, waiting for the right words to form, I came across this blog post that had the words I needed to say:
That son, that wife, that husband—that child you adopted—could it be they’re stationed, purposefully? Yup, right in their mess. Your mess. Could the end of “neat and tidy” be the beginning of passion and the pursuit of Him you’ve secretly always wanted but has evaded you whenever you’ve tried it on? Are you dragging a dustpan to the parts of your life that are a mess—when He’s whispering in the background "this may be the greatest turning point in your story"? Find Me here.
Can I say it again? This may be the greatest turning point in your story.
—Sara Hagerty, Every Bitter Thing is Sweet blog
We've been walking through this season of grief and dying to self during autumn, which seems so appropriate. Outside my window, the trees are releasing the leaves as they die. But you know what? The death is a beautiful display of God's creativity as the leaves turn magnificent colors. Winter, the season of quiet waiting is coming, followed by the fresh arrival of spring. And already, I hear His whispers of how He wants to use us, to change us, to make us more like Him. It's not going to look anything like we planned, but it is planned by the One who is perfectly good.
I think these words from "Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken" sum this all up pretty well.
Perish every fond ambition,
All I've sought or hoped or known;
Yet how rich is my condition!
God and heaven are still my own.
Thanks for reading! If you're enjoying this series, there are still several more posts coming.