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