I was walking inside of a mall just days before Christmas when a call came in. The window displays were chalk full of twinkling lights and all things red when my phone screen lit up. I looked at the friend beside me and stated with certainty that I had to take this.
I was a late adapter to all things cell phone. I abhorred the way that any one, at any moment, could pull you out of where you were or who you were with. I vividly remember the day I realized that I had become a slave to the google ‘ding’ when I had mail. I saw my tendencies to fall headlong into the trap of the immediate. Immediate contact. Immediate praise. Immediate everything.
I fought these things by always leaving my phone on silent and trying to never interrupt a real life moment for one that was virtual and could wait. But as the call came in on this particular day I had my phone in hand checking the time when the name flashed across the screen. Within 2 seconds my mind ran through every possibility as to the reason for the call. She never calls, always texts. Something must be wrong. It’s my husband. Answer now.
And so I did.
Nothing was wrong, at least in my world. But that day I learned that there were devastatingly horrible things going on in the lives of two little girls. Unthinkable. Heartbreaking. The sorts of moments when you look to the Lord and ask why. Why so much for these two? Why does this have to be their set of circumstances? Tragedy after tragedy befalling little lives makes my heart ache.
We speak against fair in our house. It’s long been a tagline for us to challenge our children with, “You want fair?” We nearly always ask it with a side glance and eyebrow raise. Because we know that what we’ve received from Christ is anything but fair. Fair is me paying the penalty for all of the ways I’ve rebelled against a Holy God. I don’t want fair. I want grace.
But on this day the words came to my lips. It’s just not fair.
Then came the reason for the call, as Christmas music played its nauseatingly jolly tones on repeat and the rhythm of bells rang out in the distance, “Would you consider adopting them?”
My words came quick and easy. Yes, of course. But let me talk with my husband.
Ladies, these are always things that are better decided together. We get that, right? Even if it’s Christmas and this may just feel like your miracle.
The next moments, the next days and the subsequent months felt a bit like a blur but one thing rang constantly true in our hearts and our heads.
Do not be afraid. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go, with however many children you have, with the finances He’s provided, with the house you live in, with the employment you have. (Additional phrases mine)
There were so many questions, so many what-if’s, so many moments of wondering if this was truly what the Lord had for us. And, if this was what He had for us, then we hope He understood that He would have to do the sustaining and the providing and the detail-figuring all along the way.
In the book of Numbers the Lord gave very specific details to Moses and Aaron about the ordering of things and how they should exactly be arranged. There were ways for the camps to be set up and directions each should face. There were various duties and roles given out based on tribes and ways to do, well, practically everything. There didn’t seem to be much left up for debate. Instructions were given clearly and directly.
In Numbers 8 there are even distinct directives for lamps and how they give light and where the lamp stands will be and the exact workmanship of them. Scripture says, “according to the pattern that the Lord had shown Moses, so he made the lamp stand.” (Numbers 8:4)
According to the pattern, and not just any pattern, but the pattern the Lord had shown. The divine pattern. The pattern given directly from the Lord. This is how they were to go about things.
The Lord has given us a clear pattern, too. We can see it as we read scripture and I’ve seen it in the working out of our life. It goes something like this. God lays something before us and stirs our heart to it. We say yes. God tells us not to be afraid. Then it’s usually followed by some time of me actually being afraid and Him reminding me of the pattern as to why I don’t need to be and the whole cycle begins again.
Of course, there are times this has been easier than others. Sometimes it brings tears. Sometimes there are big questions in the dark of the night. Sometimes we wonder if we’ve heard wrong.
But the pattern and the faithfulness show without fail that when God asks things of us and we answer Him with our yes, He will take care of the details. Those are never ours to worry about or even plot very far down the road.
A current family photo reveals instantly that we do not have two little girls in the mix. We walked the journey, we followed the stirring, but the answer apart from our yes, was a no.
This isn’t failure. This wasn’t our lack. This simply was not to be ours.
How important it is to grasp that we don’t always get what our mind desires when we follow what God lays before us. Just because there’s disappointment or grief or things end up horribly different than the expectation does not mean our yes was the wrong word.
We can get married and have a spouse that brings hurt. Pursue adoption and have every door closed. We can raise children in the instruction of the Lord only for them to follow a different path. We can get pregnant and lose babies. We can move countries only to be met with loneliness. All of this in answer to giving our yes.
This isn’t where we question the pattern or wonder if we’d heard wrong. This is the place we allow God to be who He is and decide the outcomes no matter how far into the future we had planned just exactly how it would all play out. My guess is even Moses may have had some design ideas about the lamps.
The answers are not ours. They never have been. It is a simple following of the pattern that is ours to obey. Moses and Aaron followed according to the pattern that the Lord had shown Moses, and in turn the lamp stand was a constant source of light to the Holy Place. As we follow the pattern that God has placed in our lives, the same thing happens as we illuminate the Holy One through obedience in our lives and He gets to decide where we shine.
“You are the light of the world…in the same way, let you light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14a & 16