Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Costly Grace

I stare, think fragmented thoughts, and say to God, like Aaron Shust's song:

Give me words to speak. Don't let my spirit sleep. 'Cause I can't think of anything worth saying, but I know that I owe you my life.

I woke this morning to a phone call from Jenny. Because of some confusion with the ticketing for Katie & Christopher, they were likely to miss their flight. So we prayed. The next phone call a few minutes later confirmed that God did yet another thing which is like Him. The flight was delayed by nine minutes which allowed Jenny just enought time to get the ticketing resolved and make the flight!

While I was thanking God for how His timing is perfect, I received yet another call from Jenny. While taxiing for take-off, the airline discovered that Katie has sickle-cell, and that it is possible that she may require use of their on-board oxygen supply. So, the plane turned around and returned to the gate where Jenny and the kid's baggage was unloaded and they were asked to leave the plane because the flight did not have any additional oxygen available for Katie's potential need.

Per the airlines request they will now have to return to Kampala to visit an airline approved doctor, submit a request to accomodate Katie's potential need of oxygen support, and wait for the airline's approval of that request. This delays their travel by at least two days. It is a severe understatement to say that this is not the happy birthday that Jenny was hoping for. She has reached her breaking point.

It is so difficult for Jenny and I's human minds to understand why God allows for such disappointment to occur on the heals of what we believed was some form of a miracle in getting them on the flight in time. There is no questioning His sovereignty. There is no doubt that His plan can never be made "more" perfect. Yet, in our humanness, we still ask, with great heartache, "Why?"

It is not an answer we search for. What we desire is simply a calming reminder from God that He is still in control, and that in His perfect knowledge and grace has caused these things to occur as they have for His purpose. We feel like King David who, in the midst of overwhelming spiritual torment, said, "This is my anguish; but I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High."(Psalm 77:10) We remember that God is sovereign. We remember that He has heard our, and your, prayers. We remember that He is not only capable, but He is also faithful to finish the work which He began. We remember.

Still our spirits are heavy. This journey has cost us more, in every way, than we ever imagined it would. It has likely cost us more than we would ever have agreed to willingly. However, there is not one sleepless night, one penny, one prayer, one heartache, or any single cost that we would not give again. God has taken us farther than we ever wanted to go, but we would not ask for it to be any different.

The apostle Paul said,

But indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ...that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings...but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. (Phil. 3:8-12)

What we have experienced so far in this journey is merely the tip of the iceberg of God's total plan. It has been full of: heartache, joy, anger, peace, helplessness, victory, thankfulness, humility, exhaustion, and divine strength. We have experienced God in ways and depths that we never knew existed. We have seen the power of God displayed in His people, and over those who oppose Him. Daily we have known His timely, practical, and sufficient grace. We have seen unity in the family of God that is beyond anything that we have experienced.

We regret nothing.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was hanged by Adolf Hitler for passionately following Christ, wrote:

Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: 'My yoke is easy and my burden is light.' (The Cost of Discipleship, 45)

A delay of two or three days seems a small inconvenience, yet in this portion of the journey it has felt like more than we can bear. Yet we will press on mindful of God's supremacy, and calmed and strengthened by His words and Spirit:

He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shalll utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

God's plan for us is no greater or less than the plan He has for each of His people. He requires no special ability, reputation, stature, personality, giftedness, likeability, or beauty. He seeks the willing heart that would say, 'Here am I! Send me.'(Isaiah 6:8) We never imagined what God would choose to do with us when we uttered those words. We are ordinary. Jenny's a stay-at-home mom and I'm just a carpenter. We have practically nothing to contribute to His purpose; only willing hearts.

Still we say, "Here are we, LORD! Send us."


Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. ~President Theodore Roosevelt

9 comments:

isabelle said...

Wow, sorry to hear about the last minute delays! God is great and he has brought you this far! I pray that things will run smoothly from here on out, and that Katie and Christopher will get home soon.
Blessings.

lana said...

Todd and Jenny,
My heart broke when I heard this news this morning. We will continue to stand by you in prayer and be available to help however we can.

Who can understand the Lord's ways and His purposes? I know it is extremely difficult right now to be joyful, but I rejoice in the words you wrote and just seeing your faith and trust in our God not falter.

God spoke to me this weekend words that I have learned from watching your family - "If I'm not living completely for Christ, than what am I living for?" Stand firm in knowing that Christ is being glorified through your struggle. God gave you this desire to adopt not only to touch C & K's lives, but to touch thousands of others around the world. His will is and will continue to be done.

the ewings said...

So sadden about the news. Praying that you find your joy in His strength. Praying for a time of rest and renewal when your family unites! - Chris

Matthew and Amanda said...

Oh Jenny and Todd,
Your heart and words will be pondered in my spirit for a long while. You see God... The pure in heart SEE God in all circumstances.
My heart is overflowing with compassion. I am just crying for you Jenny. I can only imagine how much effort it was to pack, get your carry on ready for your babies, get them ready, get to the airport, go through your paperwork with the stress and hope of everything being as needed, making the flight with such a rush. Then to sit down with your babes ready to fly home. The moment your heart has longed for, for 2 years. To be on your way HOME with your children. Then to have to get off the plane... My heart can hardly stand it my friend. I hurt inside. I know HOME and Family is what you are longing for with every fiber of your being. GOD will do this next step for you, I am just asking Him to carry you Jenny. He will give you the grace, strength, and energy to JUMP one more hurdle as He holds you. You can do it JENNY!!! You are running the race and you WILL attain the prize which is of eternal worth Jenny. My heart wishes I could just close my eyes and hear you are home and OK. But God is going to be BIG on your behalf once again. So please know we are cheering for you though our prayers and believe you can get the strength you need to ask for ONE MORE PAPER! God will do it for you my friend.
I am just praying you feel HIS love and COMPASSION in this moment of your journey!
"As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. PS 103:13
May His love surround you,
Amanda

aakoenig said...

Jenny and Todd,
Oh my gosh!! I can't believe this news. I am also asking the question of Why? But Todd, you write such words of wisdom at the knowledge of this disappointing news. God has given you an amazing ability to look beyond this and still see God's mighty hand at work. I remember at the very beginning of this now almost 6 week adventure that Jenny was unsure why God was splitting the group up. And then as they returned to the airport it was clear why God needed them to be separated. God had many more lives that needed to be enriched and touched. May this delay also bring about another touched by Christ.

I can't wait to see you!!!!! And will wait in great anticipation to see you Jenny and the kids too!!! Jenny, what sort of decadent chocolate dessert would like to enjoy, Death by Chocolate, chocolate cheesecake, ....let me know!!!
Ariel

Nadine said...

Oh dear Jenny and Todd,

I'm so so sorry about the plane problems, the disappointment, trials and added stress. Your faith in God, whom knows all, is a saving grace and may have saved Katie's life. We don't always know "why" but HE knows.

Seek Professor Ndugwa again for his guidance and advice and testing of Katie's hemoglobin, even if the required doctor for the airlines is mandated. If Professor Ndugwa advises she needs a blood transfusion to make the flight..find a safe match and donor. It will help offset the sickling and carry her through the stress of the flight and oxygen tension. If her hemoglobin was too low, a crisis in a trans-atlantic flight would have been much worse than the delay you have suffered.
Believe, I have experienced some of the anziety and frustration you have endured. I feared for my Ugandan son, Kenny's life many, many times and I lacked the trust in God each and every time. I worried myself sick, was at the end of my rope and doubted my decisions and efforts, as I thought he would die in Africa and then again here in America, through the operations, etc...and faulted myself, ability to care for him and faith repeatedly. I was even kicked out of the hospital once because I was so distressed...when he was in severe sickle pain crisis. It is very humbling and humiliating, my fears and weakness during those times, as I was forced to relinquish all control to HIM. Yet, HE carried us and protected and healed Kenny in a miraculous way that only the Lord can do.
Prayer and grace and Kenny's unrelenting sweet spirit and faith in God "It will be fine" positive attitude and direct connection to God and his guardian angels carried him. Still, I have a long, long way to go, as it was never me, It was always God and His purpose for Kenny's life and witness. Through all the years, I know now... The Lord's saving grace will become apparent later. Speaking from experience, this too will pass and become a miniscule blip in the long run.

I THANK GOD, for you, a selfless, service filled family, whom is saving a child of God, giving Jesus' love everywhere and witnessing in your and HIS light and grace. Keep up the strength and faith!. "You all and Katie will be fine", as Kenny says in his lovely faith, strength and never ending refusal to give up and let Satan take him. All will be turned to blessings and treasures in heaven and miracles.
Doors close and others open, as you walk through the doors, awakenings will occur, enlightenment and the Glory to the Lord.

Thank You for your devotion and scripture teachings as you are reaching me and many others!!

Encouragement and prayers!

Love Nadine

Cloughamily said...

I second what your sweet friend, Nadine, wrote. What beautiful encouragement!

Todd and Jenny,
Our hearts ache for you and rejoice in the Lord all at the same time. He knows what is best for Katie and the rest of your lovely family. And He loves you enough to ensure a safe and pleasant flight.

"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the LORD. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are my ways higher than your ways, And my thoughts than your thoughts.'" Isaiah 55:8-9

I am encouraged by your faith and reminded of the wisdom in Hosea 6:1-3,

"Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight. Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth."

We are praying for your family and for Katie to be made healthy for the flight HOME!

All our love,
The Cloughs

P.S. Happy belated birthday, Jenny. I thought of you all day yesterday and prayed without ceasing on your behalf. May God's grace and love be your strength, and may you gain greater wisdom and understanding through His Word and will for you this year.

Jessica said...

I am sorry to hear there are more delays. But I'm glad to hear that the plane wished to be properly equipped to handle an emergency...can you imagine halfway through the flight katie needing oxygen and it not being there? That would be even worse than being delayed.

amanda said...

I stumbled across your blog while researching Ugandan adoption. We too live in Montana! Can you please tell me what organization you used? I would love any input!!