Our Adoption Story and God's Revelation...Part 1
(All pictures in this post attributed to Google)
Well, if you got a Christmas card from the Bates Family this year, you probably already know that we are indeed adding another precious child to our family and we're excited and scared all wrapped into one! Adding another child has been on our minds for a little while. Since 2005, we have been either pregnant with a baby or nursing a baby and this is a first "break" for us. It's very strange. Some nice things about the break and some things I miss about the break.
I'm sure every mother goes through these thoughts of "Will I have another child?" "Will my husband want another child?" "What will my family say if we add yet another blessing to the mix?" So many thoughts, but to NOT talk about them isn't helping anyone. I've sat in groups of women and seen the tears from some who wish to have more children and don't want their last to be their last. I've had people come to me personally asking what we think. Well, all I can say is that every family structure is different. If your family follows Jesus, I have good news! You can ASK HIM!
So many share that they "give it to the Lord" and for more on this topic, you can read HERE about Quiverful and baby makin'. (grin) We ALSO "give it to the Lord", praying and asking Him to lead and guide our family size and when He reveals, He reveals without doubt and we obey.
I realize that adoption is a touchy subject. Some family and friends have been supportive. Some ignore the topic completely and some have definitely voiced their concerns. We realize it's a big decision, but we know without a shadow of a doubt that the Lord is calling us to adopt in His timing.
I'd love to share our story of God's revelation with you, but first, I want to share with you some of the ways in which God reveals Himself to us. If you are disciplined in studying the Bible (God's inspired Word to us), you already have picked up on some of these ways as you read and reflect on God's character, decisions He has made and people He has used throughout History.
God reveals Himself through:
1.) His Word (II Timothy 3:16..."All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness...") As you read through Scripture, there may be days when something specific is on your heart, you may be going through a trial or a blessing and the Lord brings you a particular verse or chapter as you open up. I can't tell you how many times this has happened to us and the kids as we sit down for devotions. Something was on my heart or someone else's heart and "bam!", we open up right to a portion of Scripture that we needed. Not always, usually days where I'm not thinking of "trying" to open up to something the Lord would have for us. It's always out of the blue!
2.) His actual voice...very few (or are there really "few"?") can attest to this, although with a book I'm reading called Dreams and Visions - Is Jesus Awakening the Muslim World? by Tom Doyle, many are sharing their dreams and actual life experiences seeing Jesus appear to them. Pretty amazing stuff! Better than any fiction book I've read for sure! Adam, Noah, Moses and Paul (the Damascus road account is fantastic!) all heard the voice of God.
3.) Jesus Christ...Hebrews 1:1-2 "In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe."
We can hear God's heart and voice through the prophets and through Jesus' teachings. (John 10:27..."My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.")
4.) Nature and God's Creation...Romans 1:20 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse."
5.) Other Believers...Others may have wise counsel for us and they may come in the form of prophetic truth, blessing or warning. Sometimes, while seeking God's will, as a couple, we ask counsel from mature, wise mentors who have nothing to gain or loose in our decisions. A question to keep in mind when seeking counsel is "Do their words reflect those of Scripture/sound mind?" Read: I Samuel 13:13-14, 15; Acts 9:10-18, 10:1-33; II Samuel 12:7-15. In Numbers 20:28, He spoke through a donkey. Confirming what you're hearing through wise, godly people is important. Does it always mean they're going to be right, not always. When you hear the Holy Spirit speaking to you (through whatever method He chooses), you obey. Period.
6.) Music...Think of the Psalms here. David as well as other Psalmists were inspired by God to write and write they did. They wrote about many trials, blessings, hardships and joy. There was a time when Rob and I lost our 3rd baby (at 7 weeks gestation) and the following Sunday at church, the songs were all about loss and how the Lord can fill that void and how He is here for us. Tried to keep it together, but wasn't very successful. Gulp. I was touched.
7.) Circumstances/Signs...God can use circumstances and signs to get our attention, but sometimes confirms it in other ways. Always try to test conclusions with other evidence.
8.) The Holy Spirit...The Holy Spirit speaks to us through our conscience. If you were sitting in a pew at church listening to a sermon, everyone hears the same message, but we all walk away with something different. I'll never forget one of our first Sundays at our new church. We didn't know anyone. We had had a rough week in the camper and although the sermon wasn't fully on John 15, our new pastor touched on John 15 for awhile and Rob and I both looked at each other and I wiped away some heartfelt tears, knowing the message was for us. Of all the sermons he could've preached on, that message was for US. When Scripture comes alive to us, it is because it is God-breathed.
9.) Prayer...(Romans 8:26-27) Sometimes we pray for things WE want and the Lord knows those desires and may or may not grant them. A mature Christian prays that God would take control of his/her life and take over. When we fast (pass up food) and replace it with prayer, our minds clear out, distractions fade and our hearts become more sensitive to God. Sometimes it seems as though we're praying for days, months, even years for the Lord to reveal His will and all of the sudden, a still, small voice. The Holy Spirit speaks. Keep in mind that His Word will never be contradicted and will bring Him glory, not ourselves.
10.) Miracles...we've all heard stories that defeat modern day science. As I read more and more books about others' testimonies, I love hearing about the miracles that take place in lives.
11.) Dreams/Visions...I'm smack, dab in the middle of my book Dreams and Visions by Tom Doyle and it's goosebump-raising as I read the dreams and actual visions of Jesus and angels amongst those in the Middle East. So encouraging. I myself, have had a dream of Jesus while we were in our camper. He came and appeared in my dream, his face only. His eyes. Oh, his eyes. Caring and kind, but just and powerful all at the same time. He didn't say anything, but his presence was of ultimate peace and as I woke up, I thought He had returned. Then discovered I was still in our camper. I remember this feeling of nothing else mattering. He was all that mattered and we were going to get through this lonely, trying time in our family's life. After reading many stories from my book by Doyle, I felt connected with these fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. These aren't just made up stories. Some people are actually having visions and some of these visions are taking place in their family's tents as they camp in Mecca on their spiritual journey! Jesus is revealing and He can certainly reveal plans for our lives. Test them against Scripture though to make sure.
The Holy Spirit is our communicator to God (I Cor. 2:9-16; Acts 8:29, 13:2, Romans 8:26; John 14:26)
In the Bible, it is recorded that God's voice is heard by certain people, but exactly how it was heard is not described:
Genesis 8:15 (Noah), Genesis 12:1 (Abram), Exodus 24:12 (Moses), Isaiah 38:4 (Isaiah)
I Peter 3:15-16 says "Be ready to give an answer to others whenever necessary."
What are you good at? What are your passions and gifts? How do you want to see God's Kingdom furthered? What opportunities do you have available right now for glorifying God? Are there any doors open or are they closed?
A few on topic books for study:
Finding God's Will by Chuck Swindoll
Can I Know God's Will? by R.C. Sproul
Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God by Henry and Richard Blackby
(Part 2 of our adoption story to follow. I can't wait to share it with you! It was a birthday surprise for sure!!!)