Saturday, September 1, 2012

It Just So Happens.....

It just so happens that I've been listening to a Mark Driscoll sermon series on the book of Ruth this month.  And it just so happens that that sermon series has been speaking right to where I am these days.  I kind-of love how God orchestrates things like that. :)

The story of Ruth is a beautiful story of redemption.  An ostracized foreigner.  A bitter, old mother-in-law.  A godly business-owner.  Each playing an integral part in the plot.  The curtain opens introducing us to the family of a man named Elimelech.  Elimelech, from the town of Bethlehem, the tribe of Judah, moves his family to live among the Moabites when a severe famine overtakes the land.  While in Moab, Elimelech's two sons both marry and start their lives over.  Tragically though, Elimelech, and both his sons die an untimely death, leaving the three widows to care for themselves.  In a patriarchal society such as this one, this is a terrible fate. Upon hearing that the famine has lifted in the town of Bethlehem, Naomi, the widow of Elimelech, makes the decision to return home to her people with her newly-widowed daughter-in-laws.  Along the way, she comes to the realization that her daughter-in-laws, Ruth and Orpah, deserve better than to care for an aging mother-in-law who has nothing left to offer.  She bids them farewell and pleads with them to return to their father's homes and to their marry again, and start their lives over.  Orpah, takes her mother-in-law up on this, and returns home.  Ruth, however, has grown to genuinely love and care for Naomi and insists on continuing on the long, dangerous journey to Bethlehem.  The widows are destitute, homeless, and alone, yet their faith in the one, true God of Israel, just so happens to lead them to a godly businessman named Boaz.  Boaz provides for them, and ultimately ends up marrying Ruth, redeeming her and offering her a second chance at life (the entire story can be found in the book of Ruth).  A foreshadowing of what Christ has done for us.

One thing that stood out to me while I listened to this series, was that God works in two ways.  Obviously, God answers prayer through the use of miracles.  We saw this miracle-working God in the life of our dear sister Anna just this past year.  More often than not, however, God answers prayer through His providence.  Seas don't part.  Manna doesn't fall from the sky.  Fire doesn't rain down from heaven.  We see his care manifest itself in the ordinary, seemingly coincidental providence of a loving God as he provides for the needs of his people.

This is where I have been living the past couple months.  Nothing miraculous has happened.  A job has not fallen from the sky and landed in our laps. Yet, we see evidence of His provision everywhere we look.  To some, it may seem purely coincidental.  But to us, as we've grown to intimately know the ways of this God spoken of in the book of Ruth, the God whom the Bible says is the "same yesterday, and today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8)", we know it not to be anything other than the hand of a providential and loving God.

When we first received word that our adoption agency would grant us a three-month grace period to secure employment, we were also told that there were a couple stipulations that we had to abide by as well.  The obvious, we needed to find a job that met the financial criteria for the country of Ethiopia.  Secondly, we needed to be careful not to touch our savings account, so as to prove when all was said and done, that we still had the means to continue with our adoption.  Easier said than done, when we still have not received any unemployment checks to date.  YET, through it all, God has remained faithful.  Despite having not received an official paycheck in over two months, we have still been able to pay all our bills on time, provide food for our little family, and continue to provide for our kids in a manner in which they do not even feel as thought they are without.  Only He can receive credit.

Each time I have doubted his goodness, it just so happens that a meal shows up to our home.  Every time I have wondered how we would get by, a gift card has been handed to us.  Or a bag of groceries.  Or a check.  Or an invitation to pick in someone's garden.  When I have worried about paying bills without tapping into our savings, He has so lovingly reminded me how He provides even for the lilies of the field.

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  And why do you worry about clothes?  See how the lilies of the field grow?  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, 
O you of little faith!"
~Matthew 6:26-33

He reminds me how he cares even that much more for me, and then his hand of provision blesses us with a side job.  No more, or no less than we need for that month.  He has left us marveling at His seemingly coincidental providence over and over.

He is so faithful.

So good.

So loving.

Not only has He provided our needs, but some desires as well.  Undeserved grace being lavishly poured out upon our heads.   This is the God that we serve.

To date, Charles still has not found a job.  He has had several leads, filled out a couple applications, and has had an interview.  We are waiting on one job in particular, as it has seemed somewhat promising.  Please continue to pray that God would open a door for him and that the job He just so happens to provide will pay what we need to continue with our adoption.  We are trusting that God has not brought us this far, only to allow us to be defeated.  Pray that our faith would be strong, and that we would set out eyes firmly on Him.

In an ironic twist, as uncertainty has consumed our job-search, our adoption has begun to pick up speed.  We know that God's timing is perfect, though not always making sense to us with our human eyes.  Over the past year that we have sat waiting on the list, we have S-L-O-W-L-Y plodded down a couple spaces each month.  Frustratingly, it has seemed that we would be in this stage of waiting forever.  Yet, these past two months alone, we have seen our numbers drop from #67 to #53.


That's 14 spaces!  About as much movement as we have seen in almost a year. :)

We are thankful for this story of redemption, much like Ruth, that God is writing in our own lives, and in the life of our child, an ocean away.  We pray that His providence would be just as evident in our hearts, as it was in the life of a poor, widowed Moabite woman.  Only God knew the end of her story.  Only God knew, in the midst of her sorrow.....her turmoil....her pain....that He had a greater story yet to write.  That in the end, from Ruth's lineage, would come a Redeemer, much like Boaz, who would come to this earth to redeem the world.   It just so happens that His ways are always better.  And so, like Ruth, we wait.

We wait on our Redeemer.

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