I don't really know how long my husband and I tried to have a child. It seemed like forever. Forever waiting...forever watching those around me having children....forever seeing people who had children and yet didn't seem to want them. Forever not understanding why.
Then came the day when a friend told us about a young woman who wanted to place her unborn baby for adoption. It seemed to be an answer to prayer, a dream come true. We got the call to come and pick up our son...we named him Matthew Isaac which means gift of God who brings laughter. You know, I don't think I've ever realized until I just wrote that how ironic that name would be.
Soon after we brought home our son, things started going wrong. There is no pleasant way to tell this story so I'll say as little as possible. After a while the birthmom changed her mind and despite phone calls in the middle of night promising "deals" or laughing at us, we got the call the day after Christmas that we had lost the battle and must "give back" our son. After seven months of hope, our dreams ended. Nope, just no way to tell this part of the story in a few words.
When we met in the lawyer's office to hand over our precious child, my husband asked the birthmom to please raise him to know the Lord...and we walked away with tears and empty arms. I remember that first night waking up hearing him cry...only he wasn't there. My world came crashing down. This wasn't the way this story was supposed to end. I was a Christian. I loved God. I was doing everything I knew to serve Him. Why wasn't He helping me?
I lived my life believing if I was "good", then God would make my life work out...right? So why wasn't life working out?
Finally the pain got so bad I decided I'd just quit living. Oh, I wouldn't do anything drastic, I would just shut down. I wouldn't allow myself to ever feel again. No smile would pass my face. I would just .... exist. That pretty much worked for the next four months....till the night before my birthday.
I just realized that it was exactly 24 years ago tonight that I made the dramatic move of shaking my fist at God. I actually said out loud, "If this is who You are, I choose not to serve you." I then went to bed, because I had church the next day. Yes, you read right - I had church the next day. I would still go through the motions. (I have to wonder how many others go to church and do that very same thing?)
End of story...not. The next day when I walked into my Sunday School class, a friend said "Happy Birthday" and I broke down into a puddle of tears. So much for my resolve to never feel again. Then she told me she'd come by to take me out for cake that afternoon. Nevermind that I didn't want her to - she didn't take no for an answer. (So thankful for friends like that.) She did come and took me out for a dessert called "Death by Chocolate." That's a unbeatable combo there - a friend who won't take no and LOTS of chocolate.
After dessert my friend took me to church where I eased into a back row and sat behind a pole. I was certain God couldn't find me behind that pole. You can probably figure out what happened next. God found me behind that pole.
That night, God showed me that I had no idea who He was or how much He loved me. That night He held this child and let her rage and question and cry and finally surrender....and through it all He never turned away. He held this hurting child and loved her through the pain.
God began the healing that night and continued it for the next seven years. Even though I hoped and had those hopes dashed again and again....I learned more and more just how much He loved me. I finally began to trust HIS plan, even if it was very different from my own.
Then one night, the phone rang. I answered it thinking it must be some salesman. Instead, on the other end of the line I heard the voice of Matthew's great grandmother. She called to let us know he was okay. She had never forgotten the words my husband spoke that night and she wanted to let us know that he was healthy and doing well and that he loved the Lord. The chapter finally ended.
But the story wasn't over. The very next year God led us to Bethany Christian Services and down the road to adoption once again. We brought our daughter home later that year. That day, laughter came back into our home. The ashes of mourning had been replaced with the oil of joy. Three years later He brought us full circle with my son...but that's another story.
Empty crib. Bitter woman. Loving God.
Thank you Father, for forgiving this child and loving me through it all. Things didn't work out according to my plan, but I'm so glad God had a better plan than mine.
Twenty-four years ago tonight. Wow. Wonder what God has planned for the next twenty-four.
Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."