I'm going to have mercy on you and fast-forward to November 2006. I had a 10 month old at that I was tempted to sell on the internet most days (kidding, people, kidding). She cried a lot and needed her mom constantly and wanted to nurse always. She was A LOT OF WORK. (She hadn't yet become the Chloe she is today yet. Happy was not in her repertoire.) Here's the proof:
Anyway, I heard that during the week of my birthday in Novmber, Steven Curtis Chapman was going to be on Family Life Today to tell his adoption story. I LOVE Steven Curtis Chapman. I've listened to and been inspired by his music all my life. So, when he gives an interview, I want to hear it. I had ABSOLOUTELY no thought of or interest in adoption at this point. I just loved hearing him share his story, and his daughter would be joining him. I thought that was interesting too- hearing their story from her perspective. My motivation to listen had nothing to do with curiosity about adoption and everything to do with curiosity as to why a family with three kids who decide to adopt in the first place. It didn't make any sense to me then.
I'm pretty sure it was dark out and my kids must have been in bed when I listened to the podcast on my computer. At some point in the interview, Emily was recounting the story of how she, as a little girl, started asking her parents if they could adopt. Steven then chimed in saying that at Emily was relentless in talking to them about this- at one point Emily brought her Bible to him and pointed out James 1:27 and she read to him, "' Religion that our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.' Do we believe this or don't we? Because if we believe this, we better be doing something about it."
The best way I can describe the next few seconds/minutes was that time sort of stood still. It was like the interview kept going on, but I had drifted off. Did he just say that the Bible has a verse that says "Pure and faultless religion (essentially the same as "authentic faith") means taking care of orphans and widows"? I had been in church since I was so young I can't remember NOT being in church. I went to a Baptist college. I've read the Bible. James is my FAVORITE book of the Bible and has been since I was a kid.
I had never heard this verse. EVER.
My first thought was- There is no way that is what it actually says. That's some paraphrased version of the Bible that makes it sound like that is what the Bible says, but really, it doesn't.
I reached for my Bible (NIV). James 1:27: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress."
OK, um....it's there. Just like they said.
And what I remember after that is almost an instant feeling that this verse was going to change my life. I sat down with my Bible and read through the entire book of James trying to make this verse say something other what it seemed to be saying to me. I remember reading it and realizing that this verse comes right on the heels of James reminding us all to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. Not just to say we believe something, but to do the things we say we believe.
The verse previous reminds us to tame our tongues. How many sermons had I heard on that in my life? How many times had I heard about "being doers of the Word and not hearers only". Countless times in both cases.
But, never once did anyone ever preach on this verse, expound on this verse, say how essential this verse is to those of us who desire to please Christ in all we do- to have a real relationship with Him that includes doing His work in the world. I mean, it is right next to the verse on taming our tongues. Why did I hear all about that all my life, but never that I should be caring for orphans or widows.
I just remember thinking, Do I believe what I say I believe?.......I mean, do I really? What about when it is not (I mean really, really not) in my plan.
I remember realizing that James 1:27 says I need to be caring for orphans. The Bible, God's Word, says I need to be caring for orphans. Then, I had a conversation with myself that went something like this:
How do you care for an orphan?
When you care for someone, you meet their needs- the needs they can't meet on their own.
Well, what does an orphan need?
A family. A home.
So, does that mean I have to provide a home for an orphan. Me? Are you kidding? Um, that's not in my plan. I am not cut out for this, I don't even know ANYTHING about adoption (save for a few people I know who have had BAD experiences with it).
Are you a hearer or a doer? A believer or a follower? You can believe by standing still, but you can't follow unless you DO something-m the something that has been set right in front of you. Do you really, truly believe what you say you believe? So much so that you will DO it because you believe it to be right even if it seems crazy and hard and WAY beyond just taming your tongue?
And there it was for me.
Because, even in the moment I immediately knew: I had to do something about this. (I had not yet decided it actually had to be to adopt. I was holding out hope for another solution, to be perfectly honest.)
God had spoken to me that night through His Word, and though I certainly didn't realize that at the time, I knew my eyes had been opened to something I couldn't turn away from without going against what I believed to be true.
Truly, in a matter of minutes this is how my thought process progressed, and I had arrived at what was for me a turning point in my faith. I was going to do something about this verse or I was going to walk away knowing I had disobeyed. And where does one go from there?