Exiled Lambs

A few weeks ago we turned down the opportunity to adopt a five year-old little girl.

I cannot even begin to explain the emotional roller coaster we have been on these last few weeks. It began as I nonchalantly brought up the call I had received from our case manager to Jason that afternoon. It was in the middle of a string of information including the time of Jeremiah’s baseball practice and that we needed more baby formula and, oh, by the way, the five year-old girl we heard about (before being placed with our current foster baby whom I will call Joy) well her mother’s parental rights will be terminated soon and so she is adoptable. And do we want to adopt her?

Timing has never been a forte of mine. If I come across any kind of pertinent information, I must speak it at once. Especially to my husband. Perhaps I figured that adding in the adoptability of a little girl along with other tidbits of the days’ happenings would be the perfect way to enter into the weighty dialog of a major life change. Ha.

We did finally get to the conversation that night. But it didn’t end well. The last words I said, with hot, steamy tears were, “I challenge you to hear from God on this matter!” And then Jason got up and went to bed.

Splendid!

And that next day he was on shift so we both had a lot of time alone to think and to pray. And to repent. I’m thankful for a friend’s truthful words to me that day to seek to respect my husband and let him lead me. That next morning I woke up and spent time on my knees repenting of my own pride and self-righteousness. And then as I prayed for this little girl and the possibility of adopting her, the scripture came to mind: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things, at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Cor. 9:8

Jason came home later that morning and we found the time to apologize to one another for that horrible night before he went on shift. And then Jason asked me what I thought of the name Rachel. Because of this little girl’s history we felt like if we were to adopt her, we should like to give her a new name. My first thought of the name Rachel was that I liked it. Jason told me that that morning he had awaken and couldn’t get back to sleep and as he lay praying about the little girl, the name Rachel came to mind. This was a big deal to me because Jason does not claim to hear from God all that often. It seemed to me that as he prayed, God gave him the name Rachel to name her. That same morning God had given me the scripture from 2 Corinthians. It seemed as if we were to adopt Rachel.

That next week we spent time talking and praying about adopting this little girl. In the middle of the week we were even contacted by the foster family that she has been with for the past year and were moving forward in getting a play date set up so we could get to meet her. Our kids were excited about it and we felt like God was leading us in that direction.

A few days later we were contacted by our agency, letting us know that Rachel had been broadcast throughout the state of Texas, unbeknownst to the foster family. Families around the state were given the opportunity to put their names in so that CPS could consider their home a candidate for this little girl. We had two days to put our names in for consideration.

What this did was force us to make a decision about Rachel. Were we in or out? It seemed like we were in. But then we began to evaluate our life seriously. Had we not just been placed with a baby girl, things would have been different. As it was, we now had four children, were physically exhausted from the night feedings, were homeschooling our three kids and just getting by with the responsibilities we had. As much as we tried to make it work, we just didn’t see adding another child to our family as being a wise decision.

I was the one who tried to push for it though. I could see all of the logic and wisdom behind keeping our numbers to just four, but I did not understand why God would have given Jason a name for her, when we wouldn’t even get to keep her. And the verse He gave me was all about God’s grace being abundant in our time of need. He could make it happen. God could work out the details. And if we said no to Rachel, we might have to eventually say goodbye to Joy, as there were no guarantees we would get to adopt her.

I went for a run in the heat to process all of this. I wept as I ran, telling God all that didn’t make sense to me. I know it’s my pride that seeks to understand things that are just beyond my understanding. But as I came to terms with my own finiteness, one thing that I desperately needed to know was that God did indeed speak to Jason this name Rachel. To me it seemed that if so, then wouldn’t that mean we were supposed to adopt her? A strange peace came over me as I sweated it out in the late September sun. A peace that Rachel is her name, regardless of whether or not we adopted her. I cannot explain the confidence I felt about this. God gave Jason the name Rachel for a little girl who would be adopted by someone else. I didn’t understand it, but I believed it to be true.

The next day we told our case manager that we would not adopt Rachel.

I grieved for her. And at the same time I was completely confident that we had sought the Lord in this decision and that He had said no.

I read in Ezekiel chapter 34 today about God’s disgust for the shepherds who have abused their power over the sheep and have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured or sought after the lost. So God tells his prophet Ezekiel to tell the people, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says, ‘I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep.” Ezekiel 34:11-12

The prophetic writers of the Old Testament all held one thing in common. Though some were shepherds, some priests, some influential and others obscure, the exile was what affected them all. When Judah fell to Babylon in 586 B.C. the Jews were forced out of their homeland. It was during this time that a priest-turned prophet named Ezekiel spoke about the lost sheep. The lost, exiled lambs.

You see, the name Rachel means “little lamb”. She is in exile. The children in foster care are exiled from their homes. Many of them for a short period of time, others for an indefinite length. And some are ready to be welcomed into a home right now.

Will you join me in praying for these little lambs that the Lord Himself would raise up men and women to search and find them and bring them home?

Will you pray with me for Rachel Grace and the family that will save her from exile?

Because just maybe we were given the name Rachel to be able to intercede for her in the heavenly realms.