Early on in the adoption process, a number is scribbled on a piece of paper, and the number catches me by surprise. It’s more money than we have, and we don’t know how we’ll get it. But we know this: God is not surprised by the number, and this number is not too big for Him. He could stick it in our bank account right now.
But He doesn’t. He doesn't typically work like that.
He works like this:
He gives us the courage to dip into savings. “I am the one who will keep you safe,” He says, “not your savings account.”
He tells me it’s okay to cook simple meals, to treat my grocery list like a hit list and kill anything nonessential. When the giant number crawls into my brain, I feel panicky and try to think of ways to make money. He tells me it’s okay that I stay at home. He will take care of this, and He did not make a mistake when He called me to be both a stay-at-home mom and an adoptive mom. “Stay where I have called you,” He says. “I am with you.”
On one Friday at the end of a week plagued by unexpected bills and unexpected news, we wring our hands in quiet panic. A few thousand dollars due for our adoption on Monday. We thought we could pay it, but now we don’t know. God, what are you doing? The doorbell rings. It’s our friend, and he’s nervous. In his hands? Cash for the exact amount we need. “My wife and I want you to have this,” he says. We cry and hug him, stunned by the beauty of God speaking and His people listening. Dear friends, God provided more than money through you: He provided hope during a hopeless time.
At Christmas, Dad hands us an envelope. “You’ve had an unexpectedly hard year,” he says. “I hope this will help.” And we breathe easier and cry a little, too.
On New Year’s Eve in desperate need for laughter, we got a sitter and went out to eat with friends. The past months had been a punch to the gut and what once seemed stable was now anything but. We are scared to say it out loud, but we’re both wondering it: “Do we need to put the entire process on hold? How will we ever pay for the home study? Do we even know where home will be?” A friend who knows our story slides a check into my hands: “We want you to have this. We believe in your adoption.”
This summer, I held in my hand nine crumpled dollar bills earned by two little girls at a lemonade stand. “It’s for your adoption,” their mother said. I put those bills in a jar on top of the pack in play in our room to remind me: God will provide, and he can do it through lemonade stands and little girls who already know how to be generous. “You should be generous like that, too,” He says, and I start donating to others’ adoptions as I can. It feels backwards because I feel compelled to save exclusively for ours, but God likes to work backwards. “I will bring all of these children home,” He says. “You can trust me. Be generous in the midst of your neediness.”
He tells me it’s okay to start asking -- that He’s been doing the asking so far, but that I need to ask, too. I need to do it because it’s an act of humility, a public statement of “We cannot do this alone.” He tells me that it’s good to summon the village, to invite people into the story, to admit our neediness and allow Him to provide through others.
"GOD WORKS LIKE THAT. GOD PROVIDES THROUGH PEOPLE."
He works through friends and acquaintances from high school and college and our old church and our new church who are willing to buy t-shirts. I am saving their pictures for a book, and one day, I’ll show our child the book, and I’ll say, “These people helped us bring you home.”
He works through a church in Ridgeland, Mississippi, who saw our application in a stack of others and said, “We want to help.”
He works through a grant rejection letter. I really thought we would get that one. “I am the ultimate provider,” He says. “You must trust only in me.”
He works through the parents and grandparents of students from our past student ministries and my old job as a teacher. Through friends and through friends of friends. Their names pop into my email inbox and I catch a sob in my throat each time because they are doing it—they are bringing my baby home to me. One dollar at a time, they are bringing my baby home.
God works like that. God provides through people.
He could have put all the money in our account last August when we filled out our first bit of paperwork and made our first payment, but He didn’t. He used you instead.
God works slowly and strangely, in a way that makes us lean in and trust. As we have leaned in and trusted him with the Big Number, we have had a better glimpse of who He is: our Provider and Sustainer, good and true and faithful, ever inviting us to participate in the stories He writes.
One day this story of lemonade stands and t-shirts and knocks at the door will end with a face and a name: this child whom God knows and we know not yet. Baby, you’re almost home.
And you, dear friend—you have paved his or her road home.
“I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” John 14:18