I feel so weak!... so needy! But I don't like being weak or needy! (There... I said it!) I'd rather be the one reaching out to those in need... Not because I'm so holy or righteous, but because when I'm on the "giving end" of need... I set the terms. I decide how committed I want to be... how much time I'm willing to give... how much money I'm willing to sacrifice... and how vulnerable I'm willing to risk being with the receiver of my giving. But when I'm on the needy end, I'm helpless and completely at the mercy of the giver... whomever that might be.
Ultimately, I believe that my times are in the Lord's hands and the satisfying of my needs, no matter how great or small, lies completely in his provision and care. But I also believe that God delights in using broken people, just like me, to be "Jesus with skin on"...
Sometimes I think it might just be easier if God would skip the "middle man". Get a human being involved in anything... and it instantly becomes complicated! I mean, if my need entails money... it seems it would be so much easier if God dropped crisp dollar bills from the heavens as He did with manna. That way, I wouldn't have to feel at all indebted to anyone or feel obligated to do the same for them when our roles have been reversed...
And if my need is physical... like failing health or a need for warmth and comfort. Why not do the invisible by just speaking a word and letting it be done? It seems that would be so much easier than waiting for someone else to rise to the occasion and meet my need, while inwardly taking pride in themselves and putting off an air that they are somehow better than I... I'm fine with being indebted to God... but my next door neighbor who I'm not crazy about? I really don't want to have to "owe him" anything!
But right now, all those excuses are irrelevant! I have needs that I can't meet no matter how I try. My children have needs that I can't begin to meet in my own strength... Self-sufficiency is out the window. "Self" has nothing to offer my incredible need!
James 1:27 says that true religion that pleases the Lord is to look after the orphans and widows and to reach out to them in their distress. Through out the Bible, we see again and again how God's heart beats passionately for the most needy among us! But, wait! I hate being needy... remember? But I can't skip over this without asking"why"? And I think I might already know the answer! God loves the weak and the needy precisely because they can not provide for themselves... they MUST look outside of themselves for the fulfillment of their needs... they must look to Christ!
I started this journey with a negative balance in my "sufficient" tank. I'm certain that most people thought that we'd lost our minds before we even started! Most days I probably would have agreed. But part of the joy of this journey has been discovering along the way how ALL-sufficient our God is! One of the greatest treasures has been meeting brothers and sisters along the way that have been "Jesus with skin on" to us!
Behind every check made out in our names for Rachel's adoption was a family with obligations and needs much like our own. People gave because they wanted to give hope to a little girl that had never known hope before... and they were willing to sacrifice in order that she might meet the One who is the giver of Hope Himself!... Jesus with skin on!
Strangers from Gainesville's Chinese Christian Church heard Rachel's story and many have come to the hospital again and again to comfort her in words she can understand, to cry and celebrate with us through the ups and downs of discovering God's plan for Rachel, to bring food that is familiar, to pray with her and to talk to her about the true Healer of her heart!... Jesus with skin on!
Shands has an incredible team of cardiologists that helped us get Rachel home and were willing to try the impossible in order that she could have a chance at life! They are practically as smitten with her as we are and treat her as if she is their very own. They have been tender and kind and donated their incredibly valuable time in order to give Rachel hope!... Jesus with skin on!
The day or two after surgery was brutal! Watching your child cry silently with an intubation tube down their throat and tears spilling down the sides of their face is not for the weak at heart! I was exhausted! I made myself lay down when Rachel was resting one of those afternoons and woke to discover a gift next to my chair/bed! I didn't have a clue where it had come from or who it was from. There were flowers, a balloon, gifts for Rachel, a card with names I didn't recognize, and tucked somewhere between the tissue paper, a photo of Rachel in the orphanage with a sweet, little friend of hers... this gift was from a literal stranger in Washington, who had been following Rachel's story, praying for her, and had recently adopted her friend, QiuQian as their daughter (now Allison Pegram!)... I am blown away and humbled by such kindness and concern for Rachel and for our family!... Jesus with skin on!
Texts, phone calls, an entire dance ministry to raise money, a babysitter always ready to help, wonderful neighbors, meals, friends to offer whatever... whenever, nurses who went above and beyond to show love to Rachel, my Mom, Dad, and kids (better known as Russ and Steph!) who will sacrifice their time in order to hold down the fort at home and love Kate and Ellie through it all! I can't even think of them all to list them here!... Jesus with skin on!
We're nearing the end of this part of the journey and the beginning of the wonderful future God has for Rachel and for us as a family! It is simply not possible for me to express how grateful I am to a God so loving, so kind, so personal... that He would prove Himself so all-sufficient through so many "angels in disguise"!... Jesus with skin on!
Thank you, Jesus!!!