A few months ago at a worship night we were singing Reckless Love, about God chasing us down with a overwhelming love we don’t deserve and couldn’t earn if we tried. The bridge is:
There’s no shadow you won’t light up,
mountain you won’t climb up
coming after me
There’s no wall you won’t kick down,
lie you won’t tear down
coming after me
While this is true for me and I can sing this for me, on this particular evening, I was just aching for a few of my neighbors. With all honesty, there are some days I ache that I can’t change their story here. I can only look to eternity. And even in that, I can plant seeds and water them–for years!–but I cannot make them grow. I just cannot.
There are days I feel like I am planting and watering for days and years on end, with my hands tied.
And as we sang this together, I was sad that this is about me; and sometimes I’m sad that so many of our Western worship songs are. Because while it’s true he pursued me like this, he also pursues them like this. He pursues us like this.
All the mountains that I see; the impossible: he can and will climb them–for her. For him. For them. For us.
All the lies that are believed. The lies that destroy. The lies that take root deep: he can and will tear them down for her. For him. And for them. For us.
Fast forward a few weeks. Now I’m sitting in a worship night, again, now with my son on my back. He’s wrapped up in a sling, eating chicken over my shoulder, giving me kisses in the middle of my back. He’s watching his dad and The Reinforcers run sound, giggling when they look over at him. He’s watching the band, always mesmerized by music. He’s watching the little baby learning to crawl in the corner.
We’re singing the same songs, but now, I’m praying them for our community; while holding this beautiful, redemptive answer to prayer on my back.
I’m looking at us; I’m so thankful. So thankful for Stephen, as I watch him with these young men and the life he has chosen to lead. So thankful for the relationships we have here and the things that keep us here. So thankful for this little boy that has just brought us so much joy and given us so much hope.
I remembered back to when Stephen and I were dating. We spent most of our dating relationship long distance while we finished our degrees in different states. It was hard to balance work and school and trying to see each other; it was expensive. And I’m so glad I survived all those times I tried to drive home at midnight or start my trip at 5am.
Honestly, I remember feeling like it was a bit unfair. As I watched friends dating in the same city; it just felt like it was harder than necessary.
But then we got married, and he’s just the best thing ever. We spend every day together, and that’s something so many couples can’t say: either they can’t do that for life circumstances or for sanity circumstances, but we do. And while I can only speak to ten years, most of those ten years I’ve felt like he was the best part of every day, the best part of life. Particularly once we moved to Mae Sot, marriage was the easy part. It was the breather at the end of the day.
So all that “hard”–was just for the best thing ever.
And then we started this adoption process; y’know, three long years ago. There were a lot of times in there I wondered why it was so hard. We knew people who started and completed the process stateside within our waiting period. We knew people who were placed while we waited. We knew people who got married and had kids within in that time.
And I wondered why it had to be this hard. I wondered why we had to wait this long or why it had to hold so many unknowns. I wondered if we should just have our own, because it might just be easier.
It was a very long three years, and I’ll be honest, we were wearing very thin. So many people advised us to give up or consider other options–which we had; but still, it was sad. I was heartbroken that this just might not happen.
And then Oak. He’s the best, guys. Again, I’m only speaking from two months, so who knows what’s ahead? But as I held him, I just saw how much we waited for THIS. This exactly. Him. Now. Exactly like this.
What if we had left? What if last year, when I simply didn’t want to come back and wait–what if we hadn’t? What would we be like now without him? We’re only two months in and I can’t imagine it any other way. He is us.
So all that “hard”–was just for the best thing ever.
And then I thought of the community.
Again, I’m just being honest: I’ve asked many times recently if things are growing at all. If we’re supposed to stay, for how long, for what. Stephen is a visionary, and I’m…well, I feel like I’m always tired. And sometimes I can only see the tasks. The tired. (Read: Hi, I’m a pessimist introducing myself as a realist.)
Recently I’ve asked if we’re getting anywhere. I’ve asked if it matters if you give someone a job if they are still in a painful marriage. I’ve asked if it helps to provide temporary safety if they are just going to return to a dangerous situation. I’ve asked if it helps to expose them to things that are always out of reach. I’ve asked if we are helping. Or not.
But then I wondered: what if were just on the cusp of something? What if we throw in the towel, but all this is for…something? Something just around the corner?
What if that something is the best thing?
(There is some optimism in there somewhere.)
In Ezekiel 37, Ezekiel sees the valley of dry bones. This verse has been referenced, mentioned, prayed for us, & prophesied so many times in the past year or so. It just keeps coming up from different people, different sides of the world and in different contexts. So I keep coming back to it, and I’ve been reading through all of Ezekiel.
Ezekiel had a really hard, challenging life and calling. He spends chapter after chapter, season after season, telling people really hard, awful things about punishment and discipline. At one point (chapter 24), God tells him he’s going to “take the delight of your eyes away from you” and his wife dies. But he is told not to mourn, but to continue prophesying these awful, sad things.
Then he sees this valley in chapter 37, and these are the lines that have been reverberating in my mind for the past year:
“Can these bones live?”
“O Lord God, you know.”
…there was a sound, and behold, a rattling…
…bone to its bone…
…there were sinews on them…
…flesh had come upon them…
…skin had covered them…
But there was no breath in them.
…And the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet,
an exceedingly great army.
Sometimes it just feels like there are dry bones.
But what if an army is coming?
What if there is a rattling: in that marriage and in her and in his future and in his life? What if his marriage takes on flesh and breath? What if their family takes on life? What if she can go to university and what if he doesn’t hit his future wife?
What if they get to see God put bone to bone, sinews and flesh and skin upon it; what if they get to feel His breath in them?
Because I don’t want my neighbors to be convinced of my faith: I want them to see what I see. I want them to see the God who makes dry bones live.
It’s possible an army ins’t coming, too. Ezekiel saw so much sorrow and so much sadness, too. It’s possible that Stephen & Oak are the army, the wins. And maybe we just have to be faithful anyway.
I don’t know. I really only know that I don’t know. My theology is more broken down and foggy than ever before.
I don’t know how long we’ll be here, how long Oak will know this street or how many languages he’ll grow up using. I’m not sure if an army is coming or not.
But I think we’ll be here a bit longer in hope. The three of us, waiting for a rattling.