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Faith is Messy

Weekly Devotionals

Faith is Messy

Hebrews 11:8-9 “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.”

As some of you may know, Heather and I are in the process of adopting a baby. We talked about adoption on and off since we got married but raising our own kids, focusing on our own startups, and serving in ministry left little room to consider adoption now. Then on Nov. 17th, on my 39th birthday, I received an email from a friend asking if we would be willing to take in a newborn child that was about to be abandoned.

At first, it felt like a precious birthday gift. Then as we started to really think about the gravity of adoption, the gift started to feel more like a burden. It was even difficult to pray about it because we were afraid of what God was asking us to do. We knew that the current trajectory of our lives would have to change. We didn’t know if we had the emotional, mental, or financial capacity to take in a newborn within a week or two. We didn’t know if we could “make it work.”

The thought that kept coming back to us was if it were our child, if we got pregnant with our third, then we would do whatever it took to “make it work.” You start to realize how many decisions are based on self-preservation.  We tend to have very different criteria when making decisions that affect us vs those that affect others. I find it almost impossible to weigh a decision without thinking, “what’s in it for me?” We read adoption books and we know all the right answers about why we should adopt but until the decision becomes real, until someone knocks at our door, it’s just hypothetical goodwill to appease our conscience.

This process has also made me realize just how much we over-spiritualize and complicate very simple commands from Jesus. We had plenty of good reasons to say no or to wait for the right time. But the most important reason just would not go away. Someone is asking for help and we simply decided to say yes. I wish I could say it was a direct revelation from heaven and we had all the warm and gooey feelings associated with following God. The truth is, faith is often filled with uncertainty. Sometimes faith smells and keeps you up all night.

When I read Hebrews 11, I used to imagine all the heroes of faith, boldly following God without any hesitation. I think that’s unlikely. I think Abraham must have been afraid and had some serious doubts along the way because the Bible says he didn’t know where he was going. That’s exactly how I feel these days. I’m starting to see decisions of faith as more mundane and messy these days. When you are knee-high in diapers, the most important faith decision means being patient with your kids when they spill milk everywhere, again and again and again.