Is It This Simple?

Venus is two years old.  Her hands are contorted mounds of brown flesh.  Her eyes flit around the room as if looking for someone who just suddenly unexpectedly left her side.

Her mother drank medicines to try to abort her but she was born. She is blind and her legs and arms don’t move but she’s alive and waiting for an angel from America to visit.

I met Venus because of Brian.  Brian and his wife Amy and their four kids have begun the process of adopting children from Ethiopia into their family and their 1500 square foot home – probably siblings.  On this visit to Ethiopia we were unable to see the orphanage in Ethiopia his agency in the U.S. is working through.  It’s against protocol and regulation until he and his family are further along in the process.  But while talking with some of our new friends here in Ethiopia about the adoption we learned of another orphanage right down the street, right here in Addis Ababa and they put us in contact with it’s director.  Brian asked for a tour, the closest thing to seeing his future children and my future nieces or nephews we could experience this time around.

It was an impressively well-run facility with 300 staff, 80 nannies who’ve received free medical training and been given a career caring for children, cooks, a film crew for documenting the kids’ life stories, and two full time on-site doctors.  One of them gave us a tour.

The hand prints of 600 children who’ve been adopted by Americans lined the walls of one room.  Disney characters decorated another.  We walked through room after room of sleeping children – their bellies just filled with lunch.  Above some of their beds hung a picture of them the day they arrived.  Visible rib cages, bulbous eyes, elderly faces, bone draped in a wrinkled loose suit of brown skin.  And beneath the pictures slept round faced children with chubby wrists and tight skin.  Miraculous.  Beautiful.  Holy.

I stood over one cluster of little ones rolling around on a brightly colored floor, chewing on toys and each other.  An Ethiopian friend stood beside me and we laughed.  I was doing fine, keeping it together, keeping this children out of my heart until my friend spoke.  “This must be how it is with God, wanting to pick everyone up and take them home right?”

Adoption, like marriage, I think, is a living breathing metaphor for God’s love of us.  I felt that today.  I felt God in me wanting to hold these strangers, kiss them and sing to them, take them home and raise them as my own.

Later, as Brian and I processed what we’d experienced together in the orphanage I became convinced of something Brian tried to teach me long ago.  We really do make God’s will too complicated.  I do.  I wring my hands and analyze and worry, discuss and think, think, think.  I pray and beg God to speak.  “What is your will for my life?  What do you want from me?” I ask.  And he’s silent.  Or is he?  As Brian says, maybe God’s will is found wherever my ability and someone else’s need intersect. Does apathy sometimes come from good intentions – from waiting and praying for instructions we don’t really need after all?  Is God speaking already and constantly to us through our ability and excess and the world’s pain?

There are over 800,000 orphans in Ethiopia waiting for parents.  There are over 100,000 children in Compassion programs waiting for sponsorsThat is need.

We are filled with the power of the holy spirit that raises the dead, gives sight to the blind, repairs all that is broken on this side of Heaven and even teaches us how to parent.  We have hands that can hug, hearts that can love, stoves that can cook, refrigerators full of food and more living space per person than the citizens of any other nation in the world.  That is ability.

Are there 900,000 American Christians asking God to announce his will to them right now when he’s already speaking through their bible, their spare room and their bank accounts?

Could it be that simple?