Around 12:30pm today, Cindi called during a meeting to tell me that Judah’s custody papers are on their way from Uganda! Lord-willing they’ll arrive in Texas sometime before the weekend or on Monday, and from there they’ll be overnighted to Santa Clarita where we and the other families will turn them in to INS. We hope this is the final piece of the puzzle that INS wants in place in order for them to approve our application. If they do, the last major step is getting a court date prepared and scheduled in Uganda.
Getting the custody papers signed has been the biggest hurdle we’ve faced so far. Waiting for Judah’s birth certificate took a little bit longer than waiting for his custody papers, but walking the labyrinth of the custody papers situation has been much more painstaking and much less predictable. Over the past month or two Cindi and I had gotten to the point of acknowledging the possibility that we might never get Judah, and if we did, it could take months or even years. This was simply a realistic possibility that had to be considered.
It made no human sense why the custody papers weren’t getting signed. I won’t go into the details, but there simply was no reasonable explanation. The effect this had on us was to turn our hearts to the God who promises that He has reasons for all that He does and all that He does not do and all that He waits to do. His reasons are often invisible, but His promises are always clear as day.
And just as it made no human sense why the custody papers took so long to get signed, there also was no human rationale for why they are now signed and in the mail. What caused the official to simply sign his name now instead of three months ago? If someone in the process wanted a bribe, why the change of heart now? Why did God not cause us to wait another three months? Was God waiting to teach us some specific things before giving us our heart’s desire? If so, what are those things? How many other people was He teaching through this process, and what was He teaching them? How will He use what they learned in the future? Is God preparing us for harder situations down the road by building endurance in us now?
I don’t know the answer to these questions, and although I would like to know, I don’t need to know. What I do know, though, is that sovereignty is not a book to be read but a foundation to stand upon. My responsibility is not to decipher the eternal language of providence but to grow in my appreciation of its beauty and intricacy and trustworthiness.
God has taught us and many others to pray and to trust and to wait throughout this situation. We would not have learned this to the same extent if everything had gone “smoothly.” Had God simply orchestrated events in such a way that every part of the process happened in predictable, time-sensitive, culturally-acceptable, desired ways, I would have assumed His goodness and presumed upon His power instead of learning and embracing them. Had He walked us down a straight, paved path, I would not have felt like I needed His guidance. Had He directed events according to my expectations, I would have felt like the process was natural. As it is, I have no doubt that it was supernatural.
Our son is one step closer to us, but he is not here yet. And I dare not presume upon God to do what we want Him to do when we want Him to do it. We are not His counselors. He has not recently asked us for our recommendations. He has asked for our faith and our joy and our perseverance and our believing prayers and our patient waiting. And I trust that He will not give us what we want from Him until He gets what He wants from us. Even more, He will not immediately give us what we want from Him so that we will learn to want the most important things from Him. Finally, He will not give us what we want from Him so that we learn to want Him. Then everything that we want, we will want because of Him and for His sake.
I am overjoyed to know that Judah’s custody papers are in the mail. This is a day of celebration. But the foundation of our happiness is not that we have what we’ve been waiting for, but that God has been faithful to multiply our joy by teaching us to wait and to find our rest in Him. I am glad that Judah’s custody papers are in the mail. But I am also glad to have waited.