Recently, our Bible study started studying the book of Isaiah. For those who may not be familiar with this particular book of the Bible, Isaiah was one of the Major Prophets. He spoke several hundreds of years before Jesus was born in a stable in Bethlehem to grow to take our sins upon Himself on the hill of Calvary. Many of the prophesies that these amazing events would take place are in the book of Isaiah. The beginning of the book of Isaiah speaks much about the judgment that is to come upon God's people for trampling on the good gifts He gave to them. I knew the end of Isaiah spoke much of God's promise to redeem, but I was struck this week about something the author of our Isaiah book study (Drew Hunter) called 'surprising grace'. These are gracious moments that appear in the midst of the words of judgment at the beginning of the book of Isaiah, seemingly out of nowhere. Israel had strayed from God. They had forgotten the poor, the widow, and the orphan. In fact, each person had seemingly forgotten about everyone else except him or herself. Then in Chapter 4, Isaiah prophesied about this 'surprising grace'. He said 'In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and adornment of the survivors of Israel...And there will be shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain' (verses 2 and 6). We know from the whole of Scripture that the 'Branch' Isaiah is referring to is Jesus Christ. When hope seems lost, the Branch will appear. The Branch that will reign as king, act wisely, do justice, and righteousness. The iniquity of the land will be removed in one day. He will bear honor, sit and rule on His throne as priest, and the counsel of peace will be with Him (see Jeremiah 23:5-6, 33:15, Zechariah 3:8-9, 6:12-13, Source: Knowing the Bible: Isaiah, by Drew Hunter).
As we move forward in our adoption journey, the depth of these truths struck my heart. When I was far from God, He grafted me in with the True Vine, Jesus Christ (John 15:5). When I cared little for anyone but myself, He adopted me into His family. As 'Love Song' by Third Day states, '...I walked the hill of Calvary; Just to be with you, I'd do anything, There is no price I would not pay, Just to be with you, I'd give anything, I would give My life away...' Part of Israel's sin that Isaiah speaks against is that they had forgotten the orphan (Isaiah 1:23), but God has brought us into His family and has allowed us to remember the orphan because when we were spiritual orphans, He walked the hill of Calvary to make us His children, and He also remembers the physical orphans on this earth and so should His people. I am truly awed by these truths and thankful for this journey, even on the hard days filled with demands from the precious children that are already in our home, I can remember the words Isaiah spoke many years ago, 'Learn to do good, Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless; Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow' (Isaiah 1:17) and rest in God's 'surprising grace.'
An update on our progress: On July 30, after months of collecting paperwork and notary signatures and references and our immigration approval, we went to Annapolis and officially had our paperwork (our Dossier) authenticated and sent to our agency. Yesterday, August 20, all our paperwork was officially sent to China! In early September, we will have a conference call with our caseworker in Maryland and the head of the China team for our agency in Michigan. After this call, we will officially be placed on the 'Waiting Child' referral list. Once a month, our agency receives a list of children who have just been added to this list. If there is a child they see that they believe matches our family, they will refer this child to us. We will then go over this referral with our International Adoption Specialist Doctor in Baltimore and if everything seems like a fit, we will accept our referral and know this is the child who will become part of our family. Then more paperwork and such awaits and then several months after that, we will be on our way to China to officially adopt our child! Thank you for your prayers and partnership on our journey!