Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sanctified by Adoption, Part 2: Burden-Based Obedience?

What really is a "burdening of the heart?"  A desire?  A feeling?  A special brokenness, conviction, or calling that God gives certain people and not others?  The question may seem silly and the answer simple, but with regard to adoption, this question terrified me. 

As I shared in the previous post, I've read countless adoption blogs over the past year or so.  And many- if not most- of the blogs that I've read have testified of a burden that these women had for orphans:  some of them seemed devastated at the thought of a parentless child; some of them seemed inclined to do that which is difficult in the world; and some of them were simply (and seemingly spontaneously) thrilled about adoption.  And as I read their stories with an encouraged heart that was full of gratitude and excitement for their families, I also felt the need to have a similar "burden."  No feeling or strong desire anchored me, and I ashamedly wondered what was wrong with me. 

In the process of dialoging about this with friends, my friend Jenn (whose blog is a worthy read) encouraged me to read the Pipers' adoption journey as narrated on Noel Piper's website.   Noel, like my husband, strongly desired to adopt.  John, her husband, had concerns (Though I'm not convinced his concerns were actually fears like mine.  This couple was 50 years of age, so understandably, this decision required much deliberation.).  And to my surprise John Piper didn't conclude to adopt based on a "burden."  In this letter to his wife, John Piper writes of adoption as a decision:  " I am persuaded that this decision to adopt honors God more than not adopting. To my perspective it seems to be the path that will 'spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.' I believe it is the path of the greatest love. And therefore I have confidence that God is pleased with it." 

Even though my fears often prevent me from living with Spirit-enabled courage, I'm still a Christian.  And deep within every Christian is a desire to "deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Him," (Matthew 16:24).  A desire to live radically for the glory of God, for our own joy, and for the good of our neighbors.  A desire to live off of His sufficiency alone.  It's just that when it comes to big decisions, a willingness to take that first step of obedience can be difficult.  But God is patient and gracious as he tends his flock like a shepherd (Isaiah 40:11), and I gladly testify to His gentle leading.  Over the past year and a half, God has taught me that following Him with faith in who He is serves as the wisest, safest, and most satisfying way to live.  In short, here is what God is teaching me:  follow Him!  Read the Bible, meditate on His Word, enjoy who He is, and do what He says. 

And that's why we're adopting.  It's an opportunity to glorify God.  It's biblical.  It's a way for me to take my husband's extended hand and follow his lead (though I'm not to be imitated in this pursuit, for "following Paul's lead" has often resulted with clumsy and selfish efforts on my part), as he seeks to lead a marriage that consists of "doers of the Word" (James 1:22).  It's a chance to disciple a precious child who needs a mom and dad -  and in this case, a child who has a 20% chance of dying before the age of 5-  an orphan who would otherwise live in the rape capital of the world - a child that God created in His image, that He loves, and that He calls His people to defend (Isaiah 1:17). 

I contintue to struggle with fears more than this blog might lead one to assume, and yes, obedience has trumped a "burden" thus far in my journey of adoption.  But would you believe what God has supplied as we have begun these intitial steps of adoption?  A rapidly increasing desire to bring our child home!  Oh, how I anticipate you sharing in His glory as I write of this excitement in my next post.


  1. Sarah, I totally forgot I mentioned Noel Piper's blog to you, and I'm so thrilled that the Lord used it to direct your thoughts! It helped me today too... thanks for sharing.

  2. I love reading your thoughts on this! I love that you are wanting to glorify God and be biblical... Let's talk more! :)
    Jenn S.

  3. What an encouraging and real post!! I have to so often remind myself that God doesn't want my sacrifice, but my obedience and that is an obedience to all that He wills. What a blessing to have multiple Tennants in the near future! I am praying for you and so encouraged!!
    Amy Lynn