I have a heart murmur. I know it’s there, although the doctors deny it.
OK, maybe I’m not describing the condition correctly. It may not be a heart murmur, but it’s definitely a murmuring heart. I too easily fall into the trap of finding fault in things and others. I focus on the not-so-good, the bad, and the ugly, ignoring the good, the pure, and the lovely.
I was convicted of my heart murmur recently by my perpetual calendar in my bathroom. "Do all things without murmurings and disputings" (Philippians 2:14).
Last time I checked, "all" means all. Wow. That means I should not—dare I say cannot—murmur, grumble, or grouse about anything—including when I have to clean who-knows-what off the walls for the umpteenth time.
I have to admit that isn’t an easy task. But I am reminded of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, in which the Apostle Paul tell us, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."
If I’m to be in God’s will (and who doesn’t want to be there?), then I need to give thanks in all circumstances. So instead of thinking that my husband Mark works a lot, I must choose to be thankful for a wonderful man who works hard to provide for his family. Instead of complaining that my three-year-old is as stubborn as I am, I must choose to be thankful for a beautiful, healthy daughter who brings joy to my life daily. Instead of grousing about unpleasant circumstances, I must choose to be grateful that God’s adopted me as His child and that I’m joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14-17).
The fact that God’s chosen me to be His child has a lot of significance for me now, especially since Mark and I are adopting two beautiful girls from Haiti. But adoption wasn’t always a big deal for us. We’d talked about it early in our marriage, knowing some of my medical issues, but it stopped at talk when I became pregnant. Adoption was a great idea, and we were proud of families who had taken that step. But we didn’t fully understand the significance. It was still a fairly vague concept floating in the atmosphere.
In the summer of 2006, our daughter turned two. At this time Mark and I’d decided we were going to adopt our future children due to complications I suffered following our daughter’s birth. I’d been researching agencies online, but we hadn’t committed to anything.
One day while searching adoption articles on the Internet, I came across a message by pastor and prolific author John Piper. Mark and I listened to the message "Predestined for Adoption to the Praise of His Glory" one rainy day as we drove from Colorado Springs to Denver.
Piper’s sermon was pivotal in our adoption journey. In it, Piper explains that adoption is from God. As believers in the Lordship of Jesus Christ, each of our adoptions into God’s family were part of His plan and purpose from the very beginning of creation.
It wasn’t an afterthought. We were predestined for adoption. That’s a difficult concept to wrap my mind around. But I think God gave me a glimpse of what He meant with the older child we’re adopting.
This girl is seven and has been at the orphanage about two-and-a-half years—longer without a family than anyone else. When we visited the orphanage in June of this year, our hearts went out to this little girl. Families had claimed her, but then for whatever reason, let her go. "Lord, bring her the right family soon," I prayed.
A few days later, this little girl was standing a few feet from me. And as I looked at her smiling face, I heard God tell me in my heart, "No matter who else you adopt, she is yours."
What? "Lord, she’s seven," I argued. We were looking for girls younger than our birth daughter, but God had other plans. "I know," God said. "She’s yours."
Wanting to be certain, and maybe making sure it wasn’t heartburn or something, I asked God, "Do I say something to Mark right now?" God affirmed, so I told Mark what God was telling me. And Mark agreed with it, as well.
Although I feel badly that this sweet child has been at the orphanage so long, there’s a reason. God had predestined her for our family. I get goose bumps even as I write this, although I’ve told the story a hundred times.
In addition to being predestined for adoption, Piper also explains that God adopts us for His own glory:
We are adopted by God so that we will rejoice that God made much of us. We are adopted by God so that we will enjoy making much of God’s grace as our Father forever. We are adopted so that in this family the Father and the unique elder Son, Jesus Christ, will be the source and focus of all our joy. We are adopted "to the praise of the glory of his grace." It will take an eternity for the glory of that grace to be fully displayed for finite people. Therefore, we will be increasingly happy in God for ever and ever. That is the final meaning of adoption.
God adopted us so that we’d be grateful for our adoption and draw attention to His grace. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could expect the same thing from our children? "Hey, Mom, thanks for giving birth to me (or adopting me). I know my life would have been the pits in someone else’s family!" Yeah, right.
But how can we expect gratitude from our children when we neglect to show it to our Heavenly Father? How often do we just thank God for choosing to take us—a rebellious and sinful people—into His family, snatching us from Satan’s clutches?
As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m convicted to use this time year to begin being intentional in my gratitude. It’s the cry of my heart to be thankful, not only for the physical blessings I enjoy, but for the fact that God chose me before time began to be His child.
And, I’m grateful that He’s working on my heart murmur.
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