Monday, April 8, 2013

Humbled and Commissioned

It’s Monday morning, just 2 more sleeps as Martha likes to say, until we leave for China and Samuel. Yesterday morning, two pastors that I respect, look up to and love joined with other members of our church family – a family that we adore – and surrounded Martha, Courtney, Cassidy and I to pray for us and commission us in our journey to bring Samuel home. What a blessing to have people whom I know are better than I could ever dream to be place their hands on my shoulder and carry us to heaven in prayer. I am truly humbled.

But the lesson in humility didn’t just start. It’s been carried out for about a year now. When we took the leap of faith and embarked on another adoption journey back in March of 2010 we knew in some part what we were getting into. We knew it would be a long, long road with mountains of paperwork to climb and oceans of red tape to wade through.

We knew there would be worries. Money, Courtney, Cassidy, and acceptance/approval by friends and family all hit the list. We told you that we wanted to be transparent in this whole process, hoping that anyone who might be interested in adoption would be inspired to take the ride and provide a family to a precious child – and at least one couple has!

But let me swallow this lump in my throat and tell you about what we didn’t expect. Our family on my mom’s side, the Wells, passing the purse (albeit a Texas Longhorn purse) and taking up a sizeable collection to get our funding kicked off at last summer’s family reunion. We didn’t anticipate at least 4 incredible families from our adoption network of friends paying far more, and then some, than what we asked for our fundraiser t-shirts. Our second parents (and you know who you are), have done more for us than we could ever repay – although I pray I get the chance to try! No less than half a dozen individuals/families from OBC have contributed to the cause and some more than once. I like to think I’m a writer, yet I will never be able to come up with the words to express our gratitude. You have overwhelmed us with your love and generosity. Thank you!

That’s just the money part. Family and friends from around the world have encouraged and lifted us up in prayer. Coworkers and neighbors have invested themselves in our saga. Your encouragement has meant more to us than you will ever know.

We knew our brothers and sister in Soul’d Out would be at our side, they have been for over twenty years now – day after day, week after week. We’ve shared far more than just music together. You guys have been there – Sink or Swim and we love you guys with all our heart!

Olivet Baptist Church is an incredible church family, as already alluded to above. But I don’t think we realized how much they would invest themselves into the adventure. We’ve had prayer warriors lifting Samuel and us up on a daily basis. There hasn’t been a week go by when we didn’t get a word of encouragement from a church member. I could write an entire different blog post on how the OBC family has been intertwined in our lives for over 26 years and I hope to some day. But suffice it to say that I am a grateful member of OBC.

I think the last thing I didn’t expect was how the Lord would use all those mentioned above to teach me humility. Not just in Sunday’s prayer, but in the events of the last year. You see, I’m not really all that proud about most things – I never felt there was much in myself alone to be proud of.
But for all of the lowliness I’ve always felt inside, I’ve come to realize how prideful I’d become in one certain area, and that’s in letting (or rather, not letting) people help. I’ve never asked for a handout (not even from my parents) in my life, and I’ve taken pride in that fact. After all, doesn’t the Bible say that if a man doesn’t work he doesn’t eat?

Oh, I was okay with selling books, t-shirts or whatever to raise money, but don’t give it to me. Huh unh. I’ve always taken pride in providing for my family. I’ve been proud of my self-sufficiency. There’s that word again. One of the seven deadlies. Yep, I’m guilty. It has pained me to have these gifts lavished upon us. Made me feel like a beggar. Needy.

But isn’t needy exactly what I am? I’m in need of God’s love, grace and redemption every single day of my life. And God has graciously used family, church family and friends to drive this through my stubborn pride and hard head. They’ve been like heavenly sledgehammers, pounding away with unsolicited, unmerited gift after gift, teaching me that it’s okay to let others help – maybe they’re just following a calling from the Lord. Maybe they just want to be a part of something greater than me and my foolish pride. I ask for the Lord’s help then stubbornly try to reject it when it comes from the hands of His children. What a dummy I can be!

I’m not self sufficient. My hope, my abilities, whatever shred of good that might be in me comes from Jesus Christ alone. I am nothing without Him. Oh, I’ve always known that – even wrote songs about it. But I guess it never completely sunk through to my heart. Now I truly understand what it means to place your trust in God Almighty and not your own abilities. Accept what He gives, in whatever form it comes.

And it only took the Lord forty-six years and hundreds of fellow believers to bring me to this realization! Not bad for a guy whose neck size is bigger than his IQ, huh?

To all those mentioned in this rambling blog, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Thanks for the surprises and love. Thanks for the tears of joy you brought to Martha and I, and the lessons in humility – as painful as they might be. Did I say thank you?

I make you this promise: I will be faithful to the calling of raising my son. I will love him completely and unconditionally, just as I do my daughters, and try my best to point him to the cross. I will rely on the Lord to help me teach him what it means to be a Godly man. I will hit my knees daily, realizing my need and my shortcomings as a model to my children and ask Abba Father for help.

Then accept it when it comes.

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy…” Philippians 1:3,4
~ Matthew

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