You know that feeling?
The feeling of “having it all together.” The confidence and knowledge that everything in your life is exactly the way it’s supposed to be with absolutely no fear of the future because of the security of your present.
I used to know that feeling. It was nice. That is, until my life was radically changed over a year and a half ago. Everything from my daily habits to the way I love my family to my priorities to the way I worship God; it was all turned upside down. It’s like taking the paradigm of your life, the set of standards and values you hold so dear, and having them thrown in a blender, hitting puree, and throwing said blender into a washing machine on the spin cycle…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
You see, in May of 2012, my wife and I got on a plane and flew to China. We were in a land we didn’t know, amongst an unfamiliar people who spoke a language completely foreign to us, but who served food that was out of this world. Our purpose in going, however, wasn’t the food or the experience of being in a foreign land.
We went to China to adopt our daughter, Avalie.
Now having been D.I.N.K.’s (Double Income No Kids) for the upwards of nearly 9 years, having our first child be an adopted child was an “interesting” endeavor.
(I use the word “interesting” because that’s what pastors say when they want to be kind to the situation. For example, “That’s an ‘interesting’ dress that lady has on,” or “This meatloaf tastes…"interesting’.”) But I digress.
Did I mention that on top of our first child being an adopted child that Avalie also was born with a severe cleft lip and palate? Yeah, it was that “interesting."
So there we were in Guangzhou, China, about to meet our little girl, and it hits me like a wrecking ball hitting a glass tower, “What am I doing here? Am I ready for this? I’ve never taken care of a baby before, much less a baby who wasn’t physically born to me or even one with a cleft lip and palate for that matter.” And while I’m thinking all of this, here comes the orphanage director with Avalie in her arms. As the director handed our new 17 month old daughter to us, it was nothing less than magical, and then she cried…and cried…and cried. She probably hadn’t had her diaper changed in a day, had a bath in over a week, or a change of clothes in a month.
And she was mine. All mine. And she was beautiful.
Fast forward a week into our time with Avalie, and she is sleeping soundly during her afternoon nap in our hotel room. My heart has completely left me and is now held in her little fists. All I could think about was how God found me: filthy, abandoned, upset. Yet He went ALL IN and adopted me into His family. At this notion I found myself crying (like a man) and telling God I would keep serving Him with all I am. He then spoke to my heart with this verse from the Gospels:
“Love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”
He said that if I am to do that, then I need to love Him with all the love I am giving to Avalie, because He is worth it. I fought back. I told God how there was no way I could strip Avalie of all the love I poured out on her and give it to someone else, and yet, I knew He was right. Because that’s what Jesus meant when He said to “love the Lord your God with all.”
When God asks us to give Him all we have, He doesn’t mean all we have left.
He means all we are and all we hold dear. The verse literally means to strip all the affection, adoration, attention, time, and love from everything in our lives and in turn give it to Him in worship. Because if you’re not giving God your all, it may as well be nothing...
But this is where the beauty of “All or Nothing” worship to God comes through.
As we give God our all, He in turn creates in us a greater capacity to hold even greater amounts of love that we in turn pour back out on those things in our life that have our affection. In giving God our all, He gives us back more to give to others.
As a result, I am able to love Avalie with more love than I had when I got on that plane to go to China. I have a greater capacity inside my heart to hold even greater measures of love to pour out on others because I first gave my all in worship to God.
Our lives were changed that summer, and I wouldn’t have it any other way…