I stalked the second hand of the classroom wall clock as it ticked away those final minutes before the start of my oral presentation. My palms were slick with sweat, and the anticipation in my belly waged war against the bagel and cream cheese I’d eaten for lunch hours earlier. But not even my unsettled nerves could erase the hours of preparation for this day. The topic I’d chosen for my high school senior project—a project worth over half my AP English grade—was one I’d tirelessly researched. Armed with my tri-fold presentation board, covered with pie charts, graphs, and photographs, I stepped up to the podium. I wasn’t a practiced speaker yet, but what I lacked in posture and poise, I made up for in passion. And I was one passionate seventeen-year-old with a plan to save the world. One adopted orphan at a time.
Seventeen years later, I’m still preoccupied by a countdown. Only instead of stalking a classroom wall clock, I’m obsessively crossing off the days until my hubby and I fly across the ocean to a rural orphanage in China and meet our soon-to-be adopted daughter, Lucy Mei, for the first time. Though our journey has taken several windy detours over the years, the passion I once exuded as a confident adolescent, eventually led to partnering with a reputable adoption agency and saying yes to a brown-eyed, six-year-old girl.
And while the early planting of this obvious God-calling may appear sweet and simple, much like the pink and white furniture arranged in Lucy’s bedroom, the past few months of waiting have been anything but smooth sailing. I’ve had many roused-from-a-deep-sleep anxiety attacks and several stopped-at-a-traffic-light daydreams of doubt. More than any other season in my life. My persistent self-examination of my flaws as a parent, daughter, sister, wife have led to more mental stumbling blocks than I can name. All of which have been driven by an intense fear of the unknown. Because that’s the thing. This “call” to adopt one of the “least of these” has shined a giant beacon on the list of my inadequacies, highlighting them against the backdrop of uncertainties to come. And I’ve found myself asking, more than once, if God has the right gal for the job. I mean, if this call was really from God… then why has this decision to adopt rattled my faith more than any other?
As I’ve sought the Lord through prayer on this subject, He’s been faithful to remind me that I’m not alone in my questioning, or in my doubts. After all, wasn’t it Moses who said, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11 NTL) when God spoke to Him through a bush consumed by fire? And then there’s the Virgin Mary, who questioned the Angel Gabriel after he proclaimed that she would become the mother to the savior of the world. But perhaps my favorite example is of Jesus’ disciple, Peter, who upon seeing his master walk across the Sea of Galilee, literally jumped shipped to accept his invitation to come to Him. Yet after only a few steps, Peter’s attention began to shift to the rising swell of waves around him. Focused on the storm, terror seized Peter and he began to sink, crying out for a rescue.
I used to read these stories through judgy, unsympathetic lenses. I mean, come on! Being on the other side of a talking burning bush or a glowing heavenly host—or hello!—God-in-the-flesh as he walked toward you on the water, seems to take all the guesswork out of the question: “Have I heard God correctly?” And yet, each one of these people, to some extent or another, experienced self-doubt in light of the God-ordained quest before them.
I’ve got to say, knowing I’m in company with some of the greatest faith pillars in the Bible, has been a comfort to me as I wrestle with my fears over how this adoption might impact my family’s future. But it also challenges me to see past the doubt—one faithful step at a time—and glimpse the bigger calling at work. A call to my heart to trust Him only. To take each doubt and turn it into a prayer. To draw near when I want to break away. To reach my hand through the waves and grab ahold of His. This waiting period has been my walk on the water. Some days my “doubt splashes” are only ankle deep, while other days I end up soaked and sputtering for air. But whatever the case, my rescuer is always near.
In eighty-three days, we will meet our daughter and bring her home to America. There will be stormy moments ahead as we navigate through the many transitions and obstacles to come. But just like with Peter, Jesus will be there. For every step. Reaching out His hand to pull us up, dry us off, and remind us of the call He planted in our hearts long ago.
Nicole Deese is a full time lover of humorous, heartfelt, and hope-filled fiction. When she’s not writing a sweet romance, she can usually be found reading one near a window. Drinking La Croix. She lives in small-town, Idaho with her handsome hubby and two sons.
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