Thursday, March 31, 2011
My prayers go out to the people of Japan as they face ongoing difficulties stemming from the recent earthquake and subsequent tsunami. Events like these have the ability to bring out the best and worst from people. Occasionally, these types of events are followed by a well-known Christian saying something that is rather ill-timed and really embarrassing about God’s judgment on a particular people. It is not that I don’t believe in the sovereignty of God or His ability to use both good and bad events to speak to us. I believe these things with all my heart. But, what if these events have nothing to do with God's wrath? What if God chooses to work within a fallen world to change and transform the hearts of His people?
My family’s story is of how God used two waters to forever change us. Our story moves from the waters of the 2004 Asian Tsunami to the 2011waters of baptism. Why did this destructive tsunami that left thousands dead and countless children as orphans happen? In the grand scheme of things I don’t have a good answer. These are geological and theological questions beyond my understanding. What I do know is that God has revealed His will in His Word. In Psalms 146:8-10 we are told that “The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; The LORD raises up those who are bowed down; The LORD loves the righteous; The LORD protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, But He thwarts the way of the wicked. The LORD will reign forever.” As my wife and I viewed the horrific destruction, God began a work in us. We would soon find out that we were the blind whose eyes needed opening as God fostered His love for orphans into our hearts.
The 2004 movie Hotel Rwanda tells a story of one man’s struggle to save his people from the horrific atrocities that left millions dead in a month’s time. There is a particularly haunting point in the movie when an American news videographer films the events that were taking place. The main character believed if people saw what was going on they would be saved. The videographer’s response was, “If people see this footage, they'll say, 'Oh my God, that's terrible,' and they'll go on eating their dinners.” These words are haunting because for many they hit close to home. As Barb and I watched footage of the Asian Tsunami we could no longer see with our eyes and not be moved in our hearts--for God Himself began to open the eyes of our hearts.
These waters of destruction led my wife and I on a journey. This journey led us to a little girl that needed an earthly family. Three years ago on Easter Sunday morning our daughter Melinda met with us in a hotel lobby in a foreign country. This meeting would be different than the other four times over a two year period when we met with her there. This time we had return airplane tickets for three and legal papers declaring that Melinda was no longer an orphan but our beloved daughter.
Of course we loved Melinda long before she legally became our daughter in much the same way God loved us long before we become His children. The Bible tells us, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (Ephesians 1:4-5). One of the great joys of being a parent is experiencing the joy of seeing our children adopted into God’s family. Nine months after Melinda came home she woke my wife and I on New Year’s Day with the words, “Daddy, I want to believe of Jesus.” With tears of joy in our eyes we talked and prayed with her.
Last Sunday I had the privilege of baptizing Melinda. As I prepared for the baptism I could not help but think about the journey God has taken us on. I thought it was ironic how God, who had used the crashing waters of a tsunami to speak to us, was using water to speak to us again. The waters of a tsunami and baptism could not be more different. The waters of a tsunami leave death and destruction. The waters of baptism speak of healing and life. The first leaves people divided, separated and abandoned. The second unites us and tells us we belong to each other and God.
Does God speak in the midst of catastrophes? I don’t question if He is speaking to us. I question if we hear Him. My prayer is that God will grant us eyes to see and ears to hear. I praise God that He used two waters to lead one girl to an earthly family and a Heavenly Father.