“A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.”
-Grace Hopper, US Navy Real Admiral
(Note: This post was written in November 2005, when my son was 5 years old. He’s 21 now.)
On my 40th birthday, I sat in the audience of a “Man in the Mirror” conference with about 100 other men when a fellow named Mike got up to tell his story. Mike spoke about how he had experienced anxiety, career disappointment, and financial hardship, not necessarily in that order. He was visibly nervous as he admitted that public speaking was not his thing. His presence did not overwhelm the room, but his message pierced my heart.
Mike spoke about the spiritual journey he had been on for the past year and the discouraging things that had happened along the way; the loss of a job and the financial hardship that accompanied it. But, he wasn’t complaining. He was talking about how God was growing his faith, so much so that he and his wife had adopted a 12-year-old girl from Russia when they already had two biological children of their own. He talked about the peace that he had amid his unfavorable circumstances.
As I sat there listening to Mike I couldn’t help but think about things I had that he didn’t; a good steady income with no serious financial challenges and a stable career. However, Mike had something that I was lacking; a faith that could see beyond his current circumstances.
My wife, Becky, and I sensed that God was calling us to adopt a second child, but we weren’t sure we were ready for the difficulty of the process, the uncertainty of the outcome, and the financial expense that would come with it. We were delaying the decision to adopt because we were hesitant to get out of our comfort zone. Our circumstances were better than Mike’s, but our faith was smaller.
As I listened to Mike, I realized that while he and his wife had looked away from their circumstances and to God, Becky and I were looking away from God and to our circumstances. As soon as I arrived home that evening I talked with Becky about what I had experienced. Three days later we were meeting with Mike and his wife in their home talking about the process of international adoption.
As I sit here in our family room writing this article, I am reminded of the power of faith that is demonstrated in the lives of others that spurs us into action. Just a few feet away from me, dressed in his pajamas, sits a beautiful little black-haired, brown-skinned, 5-year-old named Jonathan; my son from Guatemala, who we adopted through the same agency that Mike and his wife used. If I hadn’t heard Mike speak that night, Jonathan would not be my son. Sometimes I wonder where Jonathan would be today if we had not responded to God’s tug on our hearts to step out of our “poverty of abundance” and into His adventurous unknown through Mike’s message. God used Mike to move me from faithless inaction to faithful action.
In Hebrews chapter 11, we are encouraged by references to those who followed God’s call on their lives and how God did the seemingly impossible because of their faith. Hebrews 12:1 sums up chapter 11 this way; “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders … ”
What is hindering you? Who are the witnesses that surround you? Who has God put in your path to move you from faithless inaction to faithful action? What is God calling you to do right now that you haven’t done because you don’t want to leave your comfort zone?
God may be calling you to go where you think you cannot through the messages of others He has placed in your life. He uses the common folk who exhibit uncommon faith to stir those of us who are waiting until all our ducks are in a row. To live the abundant life Jesus spoke of we must be willing to leave our comfort zone to experience uncertainties and to take the risk of being inconvenienced in the process. We have no idea what lies ahead, but God does. And He has great plans for us if we will only trust Him.