Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Quest for Happiness

At different times in my life it has been obvious to me that God was trying to pound a message into my head and heart. I’ve noticed a recurring theme this summer that makes me believe I have a new lesson to learn. The message has come to me through books, sermons, conversations with others and revelation. The message is two-fold: it is unreasonable to think that perfection will be achieved before heaven, and God is not a genie.

I’m reading a book called “Shattered Dreams” by Larry Crabb. In it, he suggests that our life goal is to be happy. He then goes on to discuss the types of things many of us might expect to make us happy: personal health and health for our family, enough money to be comfortable, obedient children, etc. All are good things. We’re not asking for frivolous, material possessions. We pray for these things. We feel that having these things is what God meant when he promised us abundant life (John 10:10). If God grants them to us, we are happy. If He doesn’t, we are confused, troubled, and even angry. Crabb points out that perfection is not guaranteed until heaven. He argues that “abundant life” is a deep and meaningful relationship with God that can only be realized through suffering and the denial of earthly perfection.

Later in the book, Crabb talks about Christians who pray for these blessings and when their prayers aren’t answered they determine that God is teaching them patience (or some other lesson). They believe that God will grant them their wish in His time. It is never an option in their minds that He wouldn’t give them what they want. Isn’t that what He meant when He said He would give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4)? If He doesn’t give it right away, they believe that God will eventually give them what they’ve asked, and not only that, but it will be even better because they had to wait for it. They hold on to hope and faith as long as God grants them what they ask in the time frame they deem appropriate. Crabb believes this way of praying equates God with a genie. He says that at some point in our lives God denies us something we want which brings us to a place of suffering and weakness so that we realize our helplessness and need for Him. The premise of the book is that God wants to give us a gift greater than any earthly gift we could imagine: Himself.

When I read that, I had to put the book down. I was immediately convicted. That was me exactly! All this time I’ve thought that since God hadn’t given me a child, that when He finally did, everything would be perfect! The child will love and serve the Lord all the days of his life and we will live happily ever after. I guess I thought that He owed me that since He made me wait. I had suffered! I repented immediately for thinking that God owes me anything.

I realized that I’ve had unreasonable expectations for a perfect life and family all this time. Again, I was romanticizing things and setting myself up for disappointment down the road, because nothing can be perfect in a fallen world. But, by realizing that the ultimate goal is a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God, it may be easier to accept when things are challenging.

Learning this lesson has had a profound effect on our prayers for a child. We are no longer praying for a perfect child—there isn’t one out there. But, there is one perfect for us, one that God will equip us to care for. As we’re seeking the route we need to go to get to this child, we’ve been researching all types of adoption, including special needs adoption. We’d stayed away from thinking about this because we know of many families who have struggled in profound ways with children who have special needs. Frankly, it’s scary to step into something knowing there’s no chance for perfection. But, there are no guarantees that a biological child wouldn’t also have special needs.

God did not adopt perfect children. He saved us in spite of our imperfection (Romans 5:8). We wonder, if everybody seeks to adopt the “perfect” child, what happens to the thousands in state agencies? We’re asking God to guide us if our child is in the care of the State. Maybe he/she will have a broken body, maybe a broken mind or heart. We don’t know if this is the route God would have us take, but at least He's opened our hearts to it in case He chooses to lead us there.

Next Post: 7/19/2007


Cousin Diane S. said...

I am pleased to read your blog this week and see that God has revealed this aspect of Himself to you. I had been hoping to see you get to this attitude before adopting! I had to get there too – and still have to be reminded sometimes to stay there – before I could better understand and accept what my parents have gone through and why. God called them to serve Him.

May God continue to bless you as you seek Him!

Your openness here has been a blessing to me.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing to see how the Lord is molding your hearts to be more like His. You and Andy are a great example of God's grace. I am so proud to know you two and watch God work in and through you .......
Love you,
Heather Shelton

AER said...

Thanks for writing about what you are learning about God and the way He answers prayer. You are right: it is so easy to get sucked into that trap of -I deserve this or God will come through for ME. It is obvious God has used this struggle to draw you closer to him.

Kylie said...

Again, I can only say Wow! Thanks so much for sharing the hard lessons you are learning. God is touching many lives through you and Andy. We love you!

Anonymous said...

well put, michelle. i'm glad you mentioned the name of that book because i'd like to read it sometime. as always, thanks for your open heart.

love you guys,
lindsay s.

Anonymous said...

I love love love you guys. This is so beautiful and
so true! God is doing so much in and through you, it
is amazing to see!

LA :-)

GLouise said...

Wow- what a powerful message. I'll have to look out for that book. Thanks again for stopping by my blog. It's nice to have another southerner visit :-)