At dinner a few nights ago, I asked Lifa what he wanted to be when he grows up. His big brown eyes danced with confidence when he shouted, “A dad!”
“I have to work. And build a house. I have to be STRONG. I want to have 13 or 10 or 5 or 6 or 7 kids. I think it’s pretty easy to be a dad.”
This little boy who dreams of family was an orphan three years ago.
His biological mother, father, nor Lifa have a birth certificate – no proof on paper that they exist. And nothing to hold them together. Lifa’s mom left when he was 7-months old. His dad wasn’t present in his life three years ago because he just didn’t have the resources to be there, or any understanding that it was worth it.
That former-orphan, whose name “Lifa” means “inheritance”, told me a few months ago, “Mama, I have soooo many people who love me. I have so many family!”
Lifa goes back and forth between his dad’s house and mine. His dad loves him and loves being his dad. His dad taught him to call me ‘Mama’. He speaks two different languages and lives two very different lifestyles in the different households. The circumstances seem completely bizarre.
My heart flutters when he’s here, and it breaks when he’s not.
Right now, he’s here. For a few more days.
And he’s mastering Lego cars.
And practicing the names of the continents.
And creating his own art gallery.
And living a super-hero life.
And eating like a grown man.
And playing the thankful game.
And worshiping in the back seat.
And praying with me in the mornings.
And learning the three parts of God: “Jesus, Baba (Father) and Holy Spirit.”
And I’m thankful.
But, if I’m honest, a part of me… a hidden, selfish, insecure part of me… trembles. Not that holy, awed kind of tremble. More like a fearful, meltdown trembling. That kind of trembling you don’t want to blog about.
This little boy, whose very name boasts the promise of adoption, has been set free of a generational curse.
A lineage of invisibility has been obliterated, and Lifa is now known, seen and chosen for something greater that oozes with the glory of God.
This should be a hooping and hollering blog, delighting in the full circle redemption story.
But even now I’m selfish.
I tremble today because I want to be a part of that story everyday.
I want to be a part of loving Lifa closer to the heart of the Beloved.
I am. I get to. But I want to choose what it looks like. I want to grab tight.
I want to get to be the kind of part that has naptimes and brushes our teeth together.
What if… What if…
What if the story doesn’t end like I dream it will?
What if a day comes when I have to let go of what I’ve been holding tightly to with my hands and heart for so long?
The heartache, the joy, and the goal of every parent…
What if the time comes to release my child to the father’s house?
Have I loved him so much that I have to let him go?
Do I love him enough to let him go?
My capacity for love feels like it’s only for what’s in arm’s reach.
And I want to hold TIGHT.
I cannot fathom the love of the One whose arm is not too short.
Who can love… Who IS Love… with a grander family plan in mind that what I can understand from this one little cottage with this one little boy napping on the couch.
God’s exists as family and His nature won’t leave anybody behind.
He doesn’t get intimidated. He doesn’t get grabby.
He offers an open hand full of the treasure that came at the highest price. And He keeps loving us when we are too busy shivering in fear to take it in our hands, or even out carelessly squandering it.
He knows Lifa’s father and Lifa. And He knows me. And He has something extravagant for us all. He says it’s better together.
When we make space for His glory, there’s room for everyone.
A place prepared for each person.
My reflex is fear. Because I don’t understand. I don’t know.
I’ve poured my life and my heart into what He said.
And I have no idea how it’s going to turn out.
We don’t live inside of a fairy tale or a Hallmark movie, where there’s always a white picket fence, ‘Happily Ever After’ kind of ending. You always know how that turns out.
We live within an unshakable Kingdom. We live with a Father who promises something greater when we’re all together in His House than we could dream of from couch naps and writing our own ‘happily ever after’ scripts.
I’m praying and practicing being thankful for what I can see in front of me – but seeing those things with eyes of faith. Seeing what’s invisible.
Because the invisible is the Rock-solid Truth that I can trust.
When the world shakes, when my heart breaks, my God will stand firm.
And He’ll hold me tight so I won’t fall down.
Today, I can see a little boy filled with love is surrounded by family who loves him. His story was filled with twists, turns, dead ends and disappointment. And we have no idea what lies ahead.
All I want for Lifa is to stand strong when the world shakes.
To live in the inheritance that was given to him when the earth shook on a dark day on Golgotha.
So I have to do the same.
The earth won’t stop shaking.
People will come and go, circumstances shift, and the wind and the waves will blow in constant change in our lifetimes.
The Word of God promises that there’s a day coming when the earth and the heavens will shake. But the Kingdom of God will not.
There is a Kingdom that is unshakable. I belong there.
There’s a place for you and this little snoring heir next to me also.
Our stories and our what-if’s leave us tossed by the wind.
I don’t want to live with whiplash or windburn.
And I will not teach this boy, whose life currently takes him back and forth between cultures and who doesn’t have control over his circumstances, to find his security in whatever speck of shaky-ground his Converse land on.
Or whatever house he sleeps in. Or whoever’s arms wrap around him.
His Family is unshakable.
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."