Sunday, September 27, 2009

A blessing; a lesson

I've been a Christian for over 19 years. However, like many 19 year-olds, it turns out that I think I know significantly more than I actually do know.

In particular, God has taught me through my son just how little I actually know about God and His word. While I've consistently attended church services and had personal devotions over the last 19 years -- I even started attending Bible study about three years ago --I was, and am, well aware that God's word is as infinite as His will. The more I learn about the Bible, the more I appreciate just how much there remains to be learned.

I am fairly certain that every believer reading these comments has a similar sentiment. I would warn you though: you really don't know how much you don't know (wait... I just said that!) What I mean is that there are levels of not knowing something: I tend to lump the things I don't know into the category of "things I haven't yet studied sufficiently". My thinking is that given sufficient time -- eternity, say -- I will understand everything in the Bible and the entire scope of its application.

As it turns out, I'm going to need eternity times two. God just taught me the following lesson: not only are there "things I haven't yet studied sufficiently", but there are also "things that I've studied and think I understand which, in reality, I'm simply looking at incorrectly". I was chagrined to learn this lesson; after 19 years you'd think I wouldn't still need this type of lesson... maybe after 40 years I will have come to expect them.

The lesson at hand centers around Psalm 127 and, specifically, verses 3-5. These verses describe how children are a blessing from the Lord. Those of you familiar with Larisa and me have some sense of the importance of these verses: God has used them twice to significantly influence our thinking about children and family; first in the context of biological children and more recently in the context of adoption. I know these verses and can repeat them from memory. I did not understand them though, and still may not.

The flaw in my thinking has to do with God's outlook on children: children are "...his reward" (to us) and "Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them...". At no point would I have consciously thought of a reward from God as something to be dreaded, yet I was very worried about being a parent: would I like it? Could I handle it? Would I constantly be yearning for my old life?

If I had taken this passage seriously -- which I think I always must -- I would have considered that a reward from God is not the same as a white elephant exchange: instead of the egg cooker, purple bowling ball, or Macho Man Randy Savage action doll that you'd expect in a white elephant exchange, you're getting, well, a reward from GOD. You won't need to put on your "smile for the toilet paper cozy from great-great-auntie Glenda" face. No indeed. You need to take God's promise seriously and expect a reward as only God can deliver. Therein was my flaw, and therein lies the lesson: God's promises are sure and their fulfillment as inevitable as the tide or progression of the seasons. God's reward cannot, by definition, be something undesirable and should not be viewed as such.

In retrospect, I think a large part of my perspective stemmed from another of God's rewards: Larisa. You would think that the blessing of our marriage would be sufficient for me to yearn for more of God's rewards. However, quite the opposite happened; our relationship was so blessed, so enjoyable, and so comfortable that for quite some time I have feared the thought of children as a proposition that would ruin an ideal relationship. Over time, the blissful (I know, I know, you're thinking "gag"... but it's true) state of our marriage began to skew my perspective on children. As best I could tell, children were an undesirable side effect of adult relationships. When they happened, you put on your best face, turned in your happy life, and made the most of a somewhat rotten situation. I never could understand married couples who were pining away for children; neither Larisa or I have this propensity in us and as our relationship and lifestyle continued to improve, the thought of children become increasingly unsavory.

So it was with these eyes that I read Psalm 127, and as the Bible warns: having eyes to see, I saw not. Enter my instructor:

It shames me to confess that I was actually "prepared to put on a good face" for this whole adoption thing: "well... God wants us to adopt and, even though I'll probably never like it, I'll do my part to help out some poor starving kid and figure out some way to muddle through until he graduates and moves out." How gallant, if totally wrongheaded and unnecessary, of me.

I thank God that He has cut through my short-sighted perspective and saved me from myself. Yikealo is an aspect of life that I never expected to enjoy, but which I now find I cannot get enough of. Like wine, he is getting better and better as time passes. I want to "sa-nuggle" and "scha-mooch" him, I want to wrestle with him and hear his infectious giggle. I want to give him a home, teach him of God, watch him grow, and just spend time with him. Yikealo is no white elephant gift; he is truly a reward from God.

Further, and just to show He can, God has continued to bless the relationship I have with Larisa. While I feared our relationship would be lost in our quest to become parents, so far -- and today is the three month anniversary of the day we met Yikealo -- our spousal relationship has continued to grow. We are not only Yikealo's parents. I am David, Larisa is Larisa, the two of us are David and Larisa, and the three of us are a very blessed family.

And he's so stinkin' cute!


  1. Ahh...the 'unknowns' of first-time parents; how well I can relate. I loved your words, "I am David, Larisa is Larisa, the two of us are David and Larisa, and the three of us are a very blessed family." It makes me want to grab my little guy and give him a 'scha-mooch'!

  2. I love your family and your LOVE for Jesus! Do glad to have met you and watched you become a family of 3.