Since Karen & I adopted our boys in 2010, we have become keenly aware of the core of God's heart and love that He expresses through adoption. After all, when it comes to the Kingdom of Heaven, we all got grafted in! (see Romans 8). So many times now as I read scripture, I see the miracle of adoption playing out. Today, I noticed something. In Matthew 21, The Complete Jewish Bible uses the word trust where all my life I have heard the word faith...if you have faith you can ask what you will vs. you can ask what you will provided you have trust (vs 21). This seems to put a slightly different slant on the deal. It moves it from a much broader concept of faith to a much more relational idea of trust. I can't always wrap my cerebral processes around the notion of faith but now trust is a different story. We are confronted with this issue virtually every day. Who can be trusted? Can we trust what our clients are telling us or what the preacher is saying or the government or the media? Recently, while watching a post-game interview with a well-known college basketball coach, I was surprised when the commentator asked him what was the most important thing to instill in his players. Without hesitation he replied, "Trust!" The issue of trust is all around us and it is a relationship issue.
In Matthew 21, Jesus' words challenge a man or woman with a somewhat camouflaged message, “Do you trust me?” Its a question that takes me to the single most important issue with of our adopted children. We have asked the question constantly for the past 4 years: will you trust us? Unfortunately, our children came to us trusting no one but themselves. If you've ever adopted my guess is the light bulb just came on and I've caught your attention. You know what I'm talking about and you're near-desperate to see if I have any answers. It is amazing how quickly a child learns that the world is not worthy of their trust. It is equally amazing how deeply this belief resides within the thought processes and behavior of these children.
“I must take care of myself” is more than an idea, it is a mandate that is seared into the mind and heart designed to insulate against all meaningful attachments to others. And by meaningful I mean “in any type of trusting way”. Positive attachment is built on trust and without it relationships are simply a way to get what I want in this world. Never mind consequences because after all, relationships only exist to give me what I want.
But trust is a much bigger problem that strikes at the very essence of relationships including our relationship with God. To not trust sends us on our way to do our own thing… “misbehave” if you will. It leads to sin which is, in essence, man’s way of saying “I’ll do it my way”. The process reminds me of our experience with our grafted children and many stories that I have read about others who have adopted. Jesus understood this dynamic well. His teaching in Matthew 21 is easily misunderstood as an invitation to make out your "Christmas list", give it to the Man Upstairs and presto, you got the instant gratification! But when it doesn’t happen as we thought it should, we conclude that God is not listening and even worse, cannot be trusted. A second look at Jesus’ words here suggests that it’s the other way around…the trust comes first! Ohhhhhhhh! ...
- I’ve got to trust before I ask?
- I've got to trust before I attach!
- I've got to trust before I receive!
Jesus offers these words as an invitation to ask but that was only a smoke screen for the real issue: Will you trust? Make no mistake about it, Jesus caught our attention with the "and you will receive everything you ask" part. But then, attention isn’t really what he was looking for …Will you trust when you ask?
For the past 4 years Karen & I have been asking our children the same question. They came to us with this not-so-little voice screaming in their heads...
“No! I will not! Adults, parents, people are not to be trusted! I am in this thing for myself!”
Oh, they don't say it with their words. They say it when they don't follow house rules that we've gone over with them 40 gazillion times. They say it when they destroy their toys or property and just like relationships, it doesn't really matter because, well, we'll simply move on to the next one. They say it when they obsess about, hoard and gorge their food as if they will never be fed again. Make no mistake about it, Karen and I constantly work to win and establish one simple thing with our grafted children: trust! Just like the crowd that was in ear shot of Jesus’ words that day, our younger children are focused on the you will receive everything while missing the "but you must trust" part. On the surface, its aggravating to feel like you're offering something good over and over and over only to be ignored. The rejection stings. But then sometimes it runs through my mind: I wonder what happened in those days before we got them that generated this level of inability to attach and trust? Surely therein lies the answer to understanding their overriding skepticism towards everyone in their world. At other times I retreat to a quiet place where I hear my Heavenly Father whisper in my ear...."I know how you feel, son!"
Somehow I am strengthened when I realize He was talking about me!
Until we talk again, I will leave you with this...