When God’s answer is No
Spring time brings a whole lot with it. Everything is in bloom, creating new growth, coming back to life after the long winter. But we also deal with the thaw, the excessive amounts of rain, and the earth unveils the damage that the ice has done during it’s time. Damage to our homes, streets, infrastructure and water ways. The saturated ground can’t handle the large rainfalls and instantly our water ways are flooded bringing more damage to our homes, properties, and all living creatures along the flood plains. Water, water and more water.
Did you know there are major benefits to floods? Who knew? Flood plains are notoriously considered golden soil. The water brings with it nutrients into the soil that are excellent for new growth. An exaggerated version of this would be the Mississippi Delta. Where the mighty river meets the ocean and spreads out over the Gulf, the flood plains surrounding this are some of the richest soils in the Western Hemisphere. Those that live and farm there have to deal with some hefty flooding, but if they make it through, their crops are bountiful every time. Floods also bring with it a transference of nutrients from the soil into the water to replenish food and nourishment for fish and other living creatures. It brings balance back to the ecosystems. With water traveling through from areas much farther north, the waters bring new biodiversity of plants and animals as well. Our forests are healthier and our land more diverse because of these pesky floods.
At the foot of our local lake we have a dam in much need of repair. It has sat in disrepair for a while. Last year the lake closed for a period of time to assess the damage on the dam. Plans were made for a later date to lower the water levels to make repairs. When the time came the DNR stepped in to stop the repairs until spring. The dam remains broken and the surrounding area open to high water levels. It is still useful in some ways, but not operating at peak efficiency to aid in maintaining water levels during this spring’s high water stages. This shut down of repairs has affected water levels down river to each adjoining tributary, backwater and river. The DNR’s “No” has obvious affects on a lot of property. (Clarification: this is not a political statement, simply a connection of metaphors).
During our engagement my husband and I took a mission trip to Kingston, Jamaica. We spent time building homes and inadvertently falling in love with street children. We knew that someday we wanted adoption to be a part of how we grow our family. Fast forward 6 years, we had 2 biological children and we were ready to explore adoption to find the rest of our family. We sent the next 3 years in the biggest, longest emotional roller coaster of our lives. We gave our biggest Yes to the Lord, opened up the flood gates, and were determined to wait out the tumultuous waters until our family was complete.
Tumultuous waters indeed. Over 3 years of time, money and tears invested we waded through 2 child matches, found and lost, 3 countries that changed their laws or closed completely, travel bans keeping adoption completions frozen, and ultimately the closing of our placing agency all together. We had given every Yes imaginable. Our time, our money, our home, and our hearts. We were wiling to enter countries rampant with guerrilla warfare (sorry Mom) where our white skin would’ve been nothing but a giant target. Willing to give up our entire way of life to love another human.
~Our Yes was consistent and unwavering.
God’s answer was…No.~
When our agency closed, we knew we had to face the idea that this may be the ultimate closed door. We had been living in the flood and now it was time to close up the dam, let the waters recede to their proper place and assess the damage. It was incredibly painful to face the closing on this chapter of our lives. This was the image we had for our family from the first Yes my husband and I ever made to each other. How do you change the image of something your outlook is based on?
~Sometimes our greatest grief
is the pain of remembering
a life we imagined for ourselves.~
It’s not so much that I miss an actual person, but the life we thought we would have. The life we thought we were called to.
For the first time in my life I felt like God was against me. How could He say no to such a sound scriptural principle? To something He asked us to consider in the first place? Something I know He called us into? I’ve never felt so completely misunderstood by the Almighty. What was He doing?
I was not willing to give up on Him, so I sat in my grief and asked him to help me see what the floodwaters brought other that utter damage, destruction and confusion. Something more than empty bank accounts, embarrassing explanations, an empty room, and an empty heart. Where is my new rich soil? Where is the increased biodiversity of my life? Where is the new found balance to the ecosystem of my family that wasn’t there before? Here’s what I found.
-We learned to not let our money control us. We gave up large sums of money to great causes that we never would’ve given up if we didn’t think we would’ve gotten a child in return. Since the money did not bring home a child, it now goes to supporting those still in foster care, those unable to complete adoptions due to financing, and the support of birth moms in their journey. His No to us was His Yes to someone else. This opened our hearts to greater generosity in our giving and is now blessing multiple missionaries in their fields of service.- New soil
-Through the years we were required to attend various training and educational opportunities. Each one shed new light on us as spouses and parents. We are, without a doubt, healthier parents to our biological sons than we were 3 years ago, and we continue to search for higher parenting and relational skills. – Balance restored.
-Our children had their eyes opened to a world they never would’ve known. We have conversations in our home on our blessings of wealth, home, racial privilege and a complete nuclear family. They have a language for poverty, orphans, and cultural concepts I never had at that age.- Increased diversity
-Just because He can, God threw in the icing on the cake. Our final Yes to Him was to accept His No. To not reapply with a new agency. To not pursue a path He was asking us to leave behind. It was the hardest Yes of all. Two weeks later we found out we were pregnant with our new baby boy! He didn’t have to do that. He didn’t have to answer our prayers in that way. He is the Almighty. He could’ve said No and left it at that, but He didn’t. He granted us the desires of our hearts in His way. (Psalm 37:4) This new baby has the advantage of parents that are stronger together, more in tune to their parenting skills and shortfalls, and closer to God than ever before. We don’t know God’s plan for our boys’s life, but we know it is mighty. He went through an awful lot of work to prepare us for him. It will not be done in vain. The best is yet to be!
I learned many tidbits along this path but here are the headliners.
~God’s possible reasons for a No answer
-This will not do for you what you think it will.
I am saving you from ruin unseen.
-Wait, it is coming later.
-I have something better in mind.~
God is always for us. He doesn’t clear out evil, he works within it. He doesn’t have to stop the flood because he knows how to use it for good.
Reflections to Consider
-Where is God’s No for you right now? Big or small
Can you commit to trusting in His way over the grief of His No? Trust me, I know what I am asking of you, and so does He.
~A broken heart is an opening
for God’s love to enter into.
-Consider Samuel: chapters 1-3
What do you see in Hannah that you see in yourself? What do you see that you hope for in yourself? What do you find played out in the life of Samuel that would not have been possible with out the actions of Hannah?
-Where can His No to you have the potential to be someone else’s Yes?
If you are in the flood right now, hold fast. Let the waters come, and let them go. Your efforts will not be left in vain. Thank God for this flood.