Sunday, August 7, 2011

make way: the story behind a name

This is what the LORD says -
he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters...
"Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland...
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise."

As I began to write out our journey to adoption, I called it our "New Story" on impulse.  Each time I wrote those words, a verse would run through my mind.  I couldn't remember where it was in the Bible, all I remembered was "I'm doing a new thing!  Don't you see it?" (my paraphrase).  I thought that was so fitting for the way I feel about our journey to this point.  As I mentioned in this post, one of the things I realized in hindsight is that God started this story long before I recognized it for what it was.  And when I finally started to clue in, it was as though he was saying, "I'm doing something new for your family.  Don't you see it yet?"  So I searched for the reference for that scripture and can you guess where it is?  Isaiah 43.

Isaiah 43 is very significant to us.  If you have been following our blog for any length of time, you've probably read one of my favorite posts: the story of Lila's name.  And you may know that we pray Isaiah 43:1-3 over Lila every night before she goes to sleep.

The funny thing is, we've always left off the second half of the third verse and verse 4 because, well, it says this:

I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom;
I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
Others were given in exchange for you.
I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me.
You are honored, and I love you.

Yep, the Lord sacrificed Ethiopia in exchange for his people.  Do you see why we've left that part off of Lila's night-time prayers?  It kind of bothered me so I just pretended that it didn't happen that way.  (Oof - there's an uneasy revelation about my heart.  How often do I ignore the uncomfortable parts of God's holiness?  Do I not think he'll have a good answer when I ask him why he would do that?)  But now I'm imagining our own little Ethiopian Small One reading this in his or her Bible one day and asking me why God did that to his or her ancestors.  

So I decided to confront it.  I looked up every time Ethiopia was mentioned in Scriptures and evidently Ethiopia was naughty back then.  In fact, most of the time Ethiopia is mentioned in Scripture, it's not in a very positive light.  And what I know about God is that he's in the business of protecting and fighting for his people. So if Ethiopia got in the way, he was ready to trade their lives for the lives of his children.  The important thing is to look at the whole story.  Because a few hundred years later, God finally got to fulfill the plan he had had all along: to adopt everyone - not just Israel - into his family through his son, Jesus (see Ephesians 1:4,5).

But I digress.  Back to Isaiah 43.  The next verses are (by the way, I'm cheating and changing the translation of these verses.  The ones above are New Living Translation, these are New International Version):

Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, 'Give them up!'
and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.'
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth - 
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made."

A few verses later are the words I included at the beginning of this post: The Lord, who has a habit of making a way where there is no way, is telling a new story.

When I started to read through the whole chapter in light of our own story, I began to feel more and more connections to it:

  • The fact that Ethiopia is mentioned. Although not a happy mentioning, it's still significant to me.
  • The verses where God promises to gather our children from the east and west and bring the sons and daughters back from the ends of the earth. Ethiopia certainly feels like the ends of the earth - that plane ride is BRUTAL!
  • The idea of a new thing being done. I like to interpret that new thing as rescuing Ethiopia rather than sacrificing her (hmmm, "her?"...are countries feminine like boats?)
  • The words "make way" appearing a few times. Because as you know, Make Way has been the title of our blog from the beginning.

So when it comes to naming our adoption journey, it seems only fitting that we use these verses in Isaiah 43 and the words "make way."  I love the verses that talk about God making a way through the sea and a path through the mighty waters.  I envision the Atlantic Ocean opening up the way the Red Sea did when Moses lifted his staff.  I envision a highway paved from Kansas to Ethiopia, a safe road laid down for us, making a way for us to gather our next Awesome Kid from the east.

Lila's Jesus Storybook Bible calls the story of Moses and the Red Sea, "God Makes a Way."  My favorite part is the end of the story where it says this:
When there had been no way out, God had made a way.   
Many years later, once again, God was going to make a way where there was no way.   
From the beginning, God's children had been running from him and hiding.  God knew his children could never be happy without him.  But they couldn't get back to him by themselves - they were lost, they didn't know the way back. But God knew the way.  And one day he would show them.
Our baby is in Ethiopia - our next Awesome Kid - and although it seems that there is no way we'll get everything done on time or have the money to write each check, we have a God who has a habit of making a way when there is no way.  We don't know the way, but God knows the way.  And he will show us.

To the mounds of paperwork ahead of us: MAKE WAY!
To the miles of ocean between us: MAKE WAY!
To the courts and government offices and red tape: MAKE WAY!
To the looming financial improbabilities: MAKE WAY!

MAKE WAY for the Awesome Kid!


Molly said...

I'm having a huge love fest with this post. It. Is. So. Good. xoxo

rachel porter said...

love this post. and maybe we need a pool playdate soon??