Man, had this started almost a week ago and just haven’t had time to finish it…
Before I dive into this, just an update on our baby girl’s adoption. We mailed our dossier in last Tuesday and it got to AGCI Thursday. They reviewed it Friday and emailed us at the end of the day saying that 2 documents need to be revised … one of them out of our control. Kind of a bummer as we were hoping to be on the wait list last week … the list is growing every day and we’re ready to be on it! We got all the documents we needed today and we overnighted them today to get there tomorrow. Hopefully, we will get the call that we are on the waitlist tomorrow!
And an update on my run this past weekend … did 7 miles … no walk, all run, 11 minute miles! I was very surprised … but God gave me a cooler overcast morning and that made all the difference. For comparison, last Thursday around 5pm I went out with the heat index over 100 and couldn’t run 3 miles before having to stop and walk. So humid and couldn’t breath. Praying for a cool overcast morning for Saturday, October 16th or it could get REAL ugly.
Alright, spiritual training. Our pastor always talks about how spiritual training is like physical training. That if you don’t train, you won’t be prepared for the race. Similar to how David had fought the lion and bear before Goliath, he had the spiritual training to discern God’s invitations and provision. And just like how quickly you physically can get out of shape when you stop working out, you can spiritually get out of shape when you stop studying, spending time with God in prayer and the Word, fellowshipping with other followers, etc. The physical training has shown me how vulnerable my spiritual training is.
It has stormed multiple times during my running. Sometimes I have gotten down-poured on … others times it thundered in the distance and started raining after I got home. And then others it would just thunder and blow over. A couple times I had Silas with me and the boy loved it … anything with water is right up the kid’s alley. As I was running, I couldn’t help to think about the storms that come in our lives. Are we prepared for them? Have we trained up to get ready to either defeat or weather them? Do we have the discipline to discern the wisdom and knowledge from the storm so that we can be stronger for the next one? As Casting Crowns sing, I should be praising Him in the storm. I am usually whining during these storms to get out of them as quick as possible. David didn’t whine when a bear came out to take his sheep. He took the challenge head-on.
During the running, there is inevitably some hills to deal with … I mean, we are in Tennessee. Hills will humble you real quick. You’ll feel that you can go forever and hit a hill and want to quit. Your legs are burning, your lungs can’t get enough oxygen, and many times, you end up walking up the hill with hands on your hips. But, little by little, these hills get easier … easier … not easy. You still definitely know you’re going up one but it’s do-able and doesn’t knock you completely down. The funny thing is that if you’re in a car, you don’t even realize you’re going up that incline or hill. You’re oblivious to it because there is no strain on the car nor do you have to react to that hill. My spiritual life is very similar to this. I’ll get to a hill where I have to climb spiritually and I’ll usually end up crawling up the hill … sliding down a few times in the process. I usually feel like I’m climbing a gravel hill barefoot versus being in a SUV (Jesus’ arms) to climb the hill. I usually rely on my bare feet than climb into His SUV. I usually take the toddler stance of ‘ME DO IT’ rather than giving it up to Jesus. I usually want to “perservere” (aka, push MY way up the hill) rather than to wait on Him to pick me up.
Over the past 3 weeks or so, I have started to use Amber’s ipod when I’m not pushing Silas. Man, what a difference! I still haven’t made a playlist so I have about 5 songs that I repeat. It works for me for now … I’m a guy that can listen to the same song multiple times if I love it. And this music works for me … it’s not necessarily the music to get your adrenaline going (I will add some of that in my playlist soon) but it’s what I need to get me through. Below are most of the songs…
1) Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) by Chris Tomlin – this is the song I usually do my warm-up walk to. It makes me realize how free I am now to run the race He has in front of me. It makes me realize the provision He has given to my daughter as well. I love this this verse…
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures
2) God of This City by Chris Tomlin – I can’t hear/sing this song and not think of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I close my eyes and I’m back there. The city that my son was born in. The city where we will see our daughter for the first time. God has created a void in my heart for this city and country. I long to go back. This song just pushes me so much when running … I’m sure some people on the running paths have thought I was nuts raising my hands worshipping our Lord to this song while running :)
You're the God of this City
You're the King of these people
You're the Lord of this nation
You're the Light in this darkness
You're the Hope to the hopeless
You're the Peace to the restless
There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God
For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater thing have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
3) I Will Rise by Chris Tomlin – ok, by now you can tell I’m a CT fan. The boy can just hit the root of my heart. We had the opportunity to go to his concert a couple years ago and I was blown away at the worship that took place. God was in that building. He was just a worship leader leading thousands of us in giving honor and praise to our King. I love the first verse … it is very pertinent when I’m struggling up that hill and the legs are starting to burn. I will sometimes go back to this song when I’m going through a tough stretch…
There's a peace I've come to know
Though my heart and flesh may fail
There's an anchor for my soul
I can say "It is well"
and I sing the chorus to Silas every night as part of our ‘routine’
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
I will rise
4) Mighty to Save by Hillsong – I fell in love with this song when it was on Abe’s gotcha-day video. The Alexander’s video was shown to numerous family and friends early on in our adoption journey. I don’t think there was a dry eye that watched it. Since then, it has been used for recap videos of God invitations so this song has a special place in my heart.
Everyone needs compassion,
Love that's never failing;
Let mercy fall on me.
Everyone needs forgiveness,
The kindness of a Savior;
The Hope of nations.
Savior, He can move the mountains,
My God is Mighty to save,
He is Mighty to save.
So, I guess to summarize, as I struggle in each of these areas, I can’t help but think of our daughter in Ethiopia. I don’t know if she is born yet, conceived yet, or if only God knows about her. But I do know I can pray for her. For her health. For her safety. For her birth family. I know I am training for her … both physically and spiritually … so I can be the earthly father that God has called all us fathers to be. I know that no matter how ‘hard’ it is for me, there is no comparison to what the 147 million orphans are going through daily. My struggle is so superficial. Theirs is abandonment and loneliness. Theirs is the challenge for clean water. Theirs is life or death. But there is hope. I know someone who is the Father to the fatherless, Friend to the friendless, Hope for the hopeless and HE knows their name! And we have the unbelievable opportunity to know our Savior, the creator of Heaven and earth, in this way. It’s unfortunate that I blow by this invitation so much because I want to run my own race. Day by day, bit by bit, I pray I am letting go of my life to join the one He has for me.