Unsearchable Judgments and Unfathomable Ways: The Final Step of the Adoption

On Tuesday, through another wave of obstacles as unbelievable as they were new, God gave us Judah’s passport.  I honestly just sit and shake my head in disbelief (at the roadblocks) and amazement (at God’s providence) when I talk to Cindi at the end of each Ugandan day.  When she found out at the end of the most intense day of her life that Judah’s passport had been printed and signed, she did not let out a riot of celebration.  Celebration assumes the presence of emotion, emotion demands energy, and there was no energy left.  Rather, our praise takes the form of a silent and heavy resignation to the will of God.  Like Job, we believe that we have walked this road with integrity.  But like Job, we put our hand on our mouth when confronted with the breath-taking ways of God.

If you’re wondering if we’re excited, I can’t answer that.  There is excitement, but it’s not a carefree excitement.  Excitement sounds too fluffy in this situation.  In the past months, even healthy excitement has been repaid with staggering punches to the gut.  Instead, our anticipation is open-handed, with fingers that have been pried open so many times that the knuckles no longer have the energy to close even over a precious and long-awaited gift.  That only sounds bad if you think that God is only good when He gives.  Sometimes He takes.  And He is still good.  Day after day we have learned to embrace this anew, because the adoption has proven to be less and less certain while God has proven to be more and more.  The threat of having something taken from you is only a threat if you don’t trust the taker.

Perhaps the details of today’s story can be told another time.  Perhaps it will be relegated to a journal entry and a few conversations with friends.  I don’t know yet.  What I can tell you is that we are aware of only one more step in the process as far as the Ugandan side is concerned: getting a visa for Judah from the U.S. embassy.

Cindi has a reserved seat on a flight leaving Uganda early Thursday morning.  She and Judah will get on the plane only if she has his visa.  We won’t know until later in the day on Wednesday.

It’s currently 3:00am on Wednesday in Uganda (5:00pm Tuesday Pacific Standard Time).  Judah is asleep, spending what may be his last night at the orphanage where he has lived since he was ten days old.  The orphanage administrators, the Ugandan mamas, the mzungu volunteers, and the other children have already said their goodbyes to Judah.  It was no doubt a bittersweet time at Amani on Tuesday night.  Cindi has already packed all of Judah’s things and will be picking him up at the orphanage in one hour (4:00am Wednesday morning Ugandan time).  She will once again take the long drive to the capitol city Kampala, hopefully arriving in time for a 7:30am meeting with Nathan Flook at the U.S. embassy.  We’ve been in constant contact with Nathan about the visa, and he is prepared for us.  He doesn’t have the authority to guarantee that the visa will be completed by Wednesday evening, so I can’t guarantee that Cindi will get on her Thursday-morning flight.  But he has said that he will do everything in his power to get it done, and unlike the promises of so many others (various government people), we trust that he will indeed try.

If Cindi and Judah leave on Thursday morning, they will spend Thursday night in London on a long layover with a few other adopting families.  I will then see her and my son at LAX on Friday afternoon, Lord-willing.

With the prospect of the Ugandan side of the adoption being completed, I don’t know how much more I’ll say about it.  Obviously I’ll say things from time to time about Judah and parenting and fatherhood and lessons and analogies, but this part of the process may soon be history.  I feel as though this adoption has been pretty high-profile.  A massive number of people know and pray about it, and it’s been the topic of 95% of my conversations in recent months.

We have tried to wear our heart on our sleeve throughout this process.  Not because we think we’re doing something special or because we assume everyone wants to read about all the details, but because we need the prayers of others and because so many have chosen to share in our journey and joy.  I hope you don’t think better or worse of us for it.  It is my firm conviction that shared hearts and shared lives produce greater fellowship, intimacy, and comradery within the community of believers than private lives and hidden hearts.  And as I have said dozens of times, we appreciate your past and continued prayers.  We feel as though an army has assaulted heaven to bring this child home.  The analogy only fails in that the weapon is prayer and the King resists the army not because He wants to defeat them but because He wants to strengthen their faith and fortitude.

Oftentimes maturity is not found in learning new things but learning old things in new and deeper ways.  We know that God is sovereign, but we are learning that God is sovereign.  We know that providence is astounding, but we are astounded by providence.  We have submitted our lives to the will of God, but God is bringing us to a deeper submission.  We have learned a certain level of contentment, but God is pushing us for more.  I am getting less and less embarrassed about having to learn simple things.  I am also less and less prone to think that I have learned something as deeply as I can learn it.  The Lord always pushes deeper, because He is molding us into the image of His Son whose character is like a bottomless, full, refreshing well.  So I do not care if I learn something simply, as long as I learn it deeply.

Now, once again, I wait for tomorrow’s news.  We would all like to be able to plan for tomorrow.  But sometimes we can only pray.  This is a good place to be.  I have long believed that James 4:15 was more true than commonly acknowledged:  “You ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.'”  And I believe it still.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?  Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?  For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever.  Amen.

— The Apostle Paul, Romans 11:33-36

9 thoughts on “Unsearchable Judgments and Unfathomable Ways: The Final Step of the Adoption

  1. Beth: Thanks for the encouragement. As I mentioned, I plan on posting about things like parenting. My point is that I probably won’t be posting every other day about the adoption anymore since it’s close to completion (at least on the Ugandan side).

    Ramona: Thanks for your thoughts and prayers as well as blazing somewhat of an adoption trail for many others. For those of you who are unaware, Ramona and her husband have adopted 8 children and have a total of 11; they have some amazing stories to tell. No doubt we will tell our own many times in conversation. We will wait and see about writing. In terms of being “emotionally wrung out,” that’s actually not what I meant by the lack of “energy.” I simply meant that we do not assume that the process will end like we want it to end, because God has continually kept us from being able to assume that.

  2. Gunner,
    Since your dad posted on the church email list that Cindi is coming home, I hope that means that she was successful in obtaining the visa!

    I know you are emotionally wrung out right now, although very much in awe of the Creator of the Universe. I completely understand. This same creator brought us through a very challenging adoption, during which Bob lost his job and we ended up traveling right after 911. I am sure you remember bits and pieces of that.

    Gunner, you have such a wonderful opportunity to (later!) tell the story of God’s mercy through Judah’s adoption story. I hope someday you will sit down and write it all out. I have a good friend in Russia who has translated my own adoption journals and is hoping to publish them as a book, to show the people there how God was with us during our adoptions. It is amazing to realize how I may end up being able to witness to these people through those journals, after all is said and done.

    You will recover your energy. But your awe of our God will only grow from here, as you reflect on His goodness and mercy in the next few years.

    May He bless you as you become Judah’s Dad!!

  3. I do hope you will continue to wear your hearts on your sleves. I hope it’s not the end of your sharing what the Lord is doing in this area of your lives. Patenting is an ultimate form of “dicipleship” and continuting to post would be a great encouragement and benefit to your readers. No, children are not the center of the universe, and they are often ‘worshiped’ in our culture, but they such an amazing means of santification – and such a joy to the heart. I hope you continue to post what the Lord is doing. I will continue to pray! Welcome to a whole new world of ministry and growth….

  4. What an amazing journey this life is! But also such a gift, to be blessed in ALL the circumstances God chooses to wield in our lives as He faithfully and lovingly grows us. It’s a process not to be completed this side of heaven, but it’s made that much sweeter when we see the reflection of God in those He is growing, which in turn causes us to reflect more deeply on Him. Thank you, again, for allowing us the privilege not only of praying with you and for you but also to see your lives and your pursuit of Christ reaching heavenward through all God has walked you through. I know I have been challenged to know God’s character in deeper, more personal ways, through this process with Judah and that my faith is better for it! Continuing to pray, knowing that we will see God answer.

  5. “It is my firm conviction that shared hearts and shared lives produce greater fellowship, intimacy, and comradery within the community of believers than private lives and hidden hearts.”


    “I am getting less and less embarrassed about having to learn simple things. I am also less and less prone to think that I have learned something as deeply as I can learn it. The Lord always pushes deeper, because He is molding us into the image of His Son whose character is like a bottomless, full, refreshing well. So I do not care if I learn something simply, as long as I learn it deeply.”


  6. Thanks for wearing your hearts on your sleeves regarding the adoption. It has often encouraged and challenged me in my faith as you again and again point to God and a biblically informed perspective on difficult situations. Thank you.

  7. Gunner, my heart aches and rejoices with you at the same time! So much of what you said, I recognize myself–fingers pried open…no longer have energy to close…details can be told another time…massive number of people know and pray…shared hearts and shared lives produce greater fellowship…we know that God is sovereign, but we are learning God is sovereign…

    Praise God for all He has taught you, is teaching you, and will teach you through this! You continue to be in our prayers and on our minds!

  8. Gunner, every day for months now I have checked your blog in anticipation of what would be happening with Judah and what the Lord has been doing in you and Cindi during this process. I have checked it partly b/c you are paving the way for us, partly b/c I know this road is ahead for us too and seeing your journey helps prepare my heart and partly b/c I am just excited to see the Lord grow your family. Even though I can’t begin to know the depths of what the Lord has taught you through this and the range of emotion you have felt I have really appreciated your entries and writing and I will jump for joy once I read that Judah is in your home!!!!


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