Saturday, March 13, 2010


Hey folks – it's Micah this time.

First of all, some free commentary on China . . .
Many of you know my libertarian leanings, so I though I should share this.While I was composing this post, I went to to look up some of the references I included, but I wasn't able to view it. Know why?Because I'm in China. The Chinese government (apparently) censors certain web sites with biblical content.

A personal opinion and encouragement for my brothers and sisters in Christ: Don't forget this next time you consider the merits of ANY kind of censorship sponsored by your favorite "conservative Christian" legislator. If there's no place to draw the line on what to censor and what not to censor, then it's just a matter of who has power (whether that means position in a communist regime, or 60 votes in the senate) and an opinion about what's "appropriate" to be reading.If some day those in power don't like the bible (difficult to imagine, I know), I think you'll still want the freedom to read it, and worship its author.

It's possible that it will take Levi many months to bond with me. Of course, it's very early, but right now, he doesn't really trust me much -- so little that he doesn't want me to touch him. When I offer him something he really likes (cracker, cheerios), he will edge up to me just so he can reach it, and then retreat (like that scene in Dances With Wolves whenDunbar tries to feed the wolf by hand . . . . sorry if you never saw that film).

Because Levi has no interest in being physical with me, I've realized this week how much I bond with and express affection for Isaiah and Naomi by being physical with them (grabbing, squeezing, pinching, punching, tickling, wrestling, carrying, tossing in the air, kissing, hugging). I can see (now) how much I crave that with them, but I didn't realize until now because they love it, and I can always gratify that desire with them. Not with Levi (yet). I have a pretty strong desire to express my affection for him in the same way, but he's not interested. It's actually difficult for me to restrain, but I'm not too disappointed or surprised. I expected it. Actually, I expected worse. My prayers have been filled with requests for God to grant me the grace I need to handle a very difficult transition. It could be far worse – I know that for sure.

There are so many passages in the bible that draw parallels between earthly father-child relationships and the relationship we have with our heavenly father. Five years ago, when I became an 'earthly' father myself, those passages really gained depth for me. I quickly understood much more vividly how much God wants us to experience joy and how he wants us to have the desires of our heart, because that's the way I feel about my children. I want things for them. I want them to have fulfilling, joyful, rewarding lives. And I'm a terribly imperfect father with selfish evil and wickedness in my heart. How much more will our heavenly father give to us (Matthew 7:11)? How much more . . . I totally get that now (maybe not as much as I should, but far more than before).

But now, God is using Levi, an orphan from birth, who has been adopted into a new earthly family, given a earthly father (a "forever" father, as they call it in the adoption business), to give me even more depth to that biblical truth about my heavenly father. Some that I've been considering this week . . .

Levi's cleft lip surgery was apparently done pretty well, but it left some blemishes on his face that may be fixed later with some plastic surgery to address some cosmetic flaws around his nose. The nose itself is pretty crooked, one nostril is pretty flat and nearly closed, and an area right under his nose which is puckered from then they stitched the two cleft lip parts together. It is taking me some time to see past that when I look at him. For the first day or two, it just plain bothered me. But now that a week has passed, I'm having to remind myself about it. In 6 months, it will probably be rare that it will cross my mind at all.

The bible is so clear about the flaws and scars we have on our existence as a human race and as individual men and women.We were created in God's image, it says, but sin has marred us in a terrible, terrible way. If we take the view of God which is painted vividly throughout the pages of scripture, then we know that God is so perfect and mighty and majestic and lovely and . . . . so holy that the marring of our sin should make us hideous to God. How could such a holy and perfect God even look upon us without being repulsed or erupting with anger and wrath?

The ONLY way is through the scandal of the cross.ONLY because Jesus, who "knew no sin", has taken the wrath necessary for my sin, and imparted his righteousness to me is God able to look at us with any favor at all. But what's even more crazy is what the bible says about the way he DOES look at us. It says that, through my faith in Jesus, all of the blemishes have been washed away, and that He sees me as holy, and spotless (without blemish).When he looks at me, he doesn't even SEE any of the filth I KNOW is there. That's crazy. Nothing but a supernatural substitution could do that. I don't merit that kind of description.Someone else must have.

Fleeing Safety
Levi doesn't believe it yet, but I have his interests in mind much of the time.When I offer him something (food or milk), take him somewhere (to the clinic for a TB test), or offer to pick him up (so the physically underdeveloped klutz doesn't fall in the river), it's because I'm invested in his nutrition, health, and safety. But guess what he does when I do any of those things. He turns his head, leans away with a whimper, runs the other way, or sometimes even breaks out in tears because of fear he has about me and my plans for him. He doesn't have the trust in me it would require to RUN to me, or to submit himself to what I have in store for him.

This is one of those whose parallels to my relationship with God is pretty easy to make. Honestly, my tendency with my heavenly father is to be skeptical of his plans for me – his commandments, the instruction in the bible, and the ways his spirit leads me from time to time. I have this feeling (ebbing over time, but slowly) that I'M the one who knows what's best for me and those in my circle of influence.Anybody else feel like that?Maybe it's just me ;)

Back to Levi. How stupid is for him to think that his plans for himself are the most fruitful? He can't even wipe his own ass. How far does he think he's going to get without the benevolent stewardship of his earthly mother and father?

No different with me and God. Where do I really think I'm going to flee to?There's this great exchange recorded in the book of John in the bible. Jesus had just finished a particularly difficult teaching, and many of his followers had decided it was so difficult that wouldn't follow Jesus any longer. So Jesus asked his closest followers:

John 6:67
"You don't want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve

One of them realizes, apparently immediately, how ridiculous that would be, and responds,

John 6:68
Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God"

In other words, "What the hell are we going to do if we don't follow and pursue and worship you? There is nothing else out there of any consequence."

Why would I run from the very person who created me and has demonstrated endless love and affection for me DESPITE the fact that I have this awful habit of running the other way?Where exactly would I go?There's no other option which is at all compelling.

A passage from a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus:

Ephesians 1:3-10
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

That word in verse 5 . . . . adoption. That word will never be the same to me.Does everyone know what is required of a prospective adoptive parent (especially for an international adoption)? It's brutal. The process takes anywhere from 12 months to 10 years from start to finish.The first thing they do (after taking their first collection of your money) send people into your home to ask all kinds of revealing questions and poke through all of your stuff to determine whether they believe you to be a "fit parent" (I always wanted to return the favor – what could I drag out of THEIR closets which would make it clear they shouldn't have been parents?). Then, the stacks of paperwork are seemingly endless, and if you screw anything up, they don't feel too bad about telling you to do it over. And the waiting . . . . the waiting. We got our first picture of Levi in June, I believe. We knew his name, details about his medical condition, where he lived, and what he looked like.But we had to want another 9 months before we could call him "ours". That's brutal. And the costs . . . well suffice it to say that the costs, financially, are stunning.
You can't be passive if you want to adopt a child. You have to REALLY want to do it. I've heard people say, partly joking, and partly serious, that if parents were required to do all of this in order to have a biological child, Roe v. Wade would never have been dreamed about. No need. ONLY those who desperately want the child would go through this.

But on good days, I remember well what God had to do, how he had to pursue, how he had to wait, the patience he had to exhibit, whom he had to send, and what his son Jesus had to endure in order to make us "fit" to be adopted as his sons and daughters. God pursued us in a way that was unmistakable – far more so than I can say about our adopting Levi. He laid the groundwork to adopt me before the universe was spun into existence. Then, more than 4,000 years ago, he told a man named Abraham that he would be blessed by God, so that he could be a blessing to the world. From his line came Jesus, who personally carried out the plan to "give us the right to become sons and daughters of God".

So the question . . . . . Why did He do that? Would he endure all of that? He didn't need us.

The answer: So he could be come my father, and I his son.

If we even get a glimpse, or see a shade, of that reality, it's breathtaking.And if we actually start to comprehend it, it won't just take our breath away. It'll take our life away, because we'll want to submit and surrender it to the one to endured all of that just because he loved us enough to make us his children.


Beth said...

Wow. Thank you for your honesty. It has made me open my eyes, too. Levi is as blessed to have you for an earthly father as you are to have him as your son. Beautiful.

The Werlings said...

Micah that last part about God adopting us and choosing us was really neat to me and allowed me to grow closer to God. Thanks so much for sharing!!! I hope you guys week is filled with so much joy!!!

Brett said...

What a cool blog that you have written! I know what you mean about having trouble seeing through the flaws. I remember being a little shocked at the size of our daughter Jenna's birthmark, which is on the right side of her neck on up to her scalp. Within about a month I hardly noticed it and now it is an afterthought - just another part of her beauty.

Brett from Cedar Rapids, Iowa