On a Wednesday afternoon in January, I received the phone call I had been praying for. After many, many weeks of conversations and visits, Southland Christian Church called to offer me a position as the Campus Leader for their new venue that would be launching in the Fall. Erica and I had known for a few months that God was leading us somewhere new, but this phone call would confirm the exact direction. As is often the case in an interview process, I had moved through stages of increased emotion regarding the potential change: intrigue, optimism, excitement, and, finally, expectation. Receiving the job offer and the call to ministry was the penultimate stage in the whole process, and by far the most elating - and relieving - moment of all. The only thing left to was accept the position, which I wanted to do immediately; nevertheless, I calmed myself enough to say that I'd take a few more days to pray about it. I'd call back on Friday to let them know.
When Friday morning rolled around, I stalled for a couple of hours, not wanting to seem too overly eager about joining their staff, as if that wasn't the only thing on my mind. Sometime in the late morning, I picked up the phone and said "Yes," making it official. A new job. A new church campus. A new community. All of this was imminent on the horizon now, and I was thrilled.
Less than an hour later, my phone rang and my wife's picture flashed on the screen. Assuming she was calling to offer some final congratulations, I answered, "Well, babe, it's official. Looks like everything is about to change."
"You have no idea," she responded.
Erica had just received a phone call herself, this one from our local R&C worker. She wanted to know if we could take a child into our care. Since getting our foster care certification and signing the contract in November, we had received a couple of calls with possible placements, but they had all fallen through for various reasons. This placement, it seemed, was real and it was happening. All we had to do was say, "Yes."
It is important to note that I had spent the better part of the last decade convincing myself - and trying to convince my wife - that we were done with babies. Going through the diapers, the sleepless nights, the potty-training, the Terrible Twos, (not to mention the Terrible Threes and Fours), and all that nonsense - it was all quite enough. We had done it twice already. There was no reason to go back. During the foster care training process, our family had processed together about the kind of children we would be able to take in. We discussed age rage, gender, ethnicity, language, medical needs, learning disabilities, different kinds of abuse....everything. In the end, we specified that we would be open to taking care of children ages 3-10, and who were not considered "medically fragile." Infants and extreme medical needs were situations we did not feel equipped to care for at this time.
Apparently neither God nor our social worker cared about my preferences or plan. This placement we were being asked to take was a newborn infant. Erica shared with me what little detail she had about the child. "I need to let her know immediately," she said. "So....[long pause]....what do you think?" I could hear the hope and excitement in her voice.
Though I couldn't discern it at the time, I also heard her heartbeat. She wanted desperately to love more and again. She wanted to pour herself out on behalf of a child who was powerless in his or her situation. She wanted to be a mother to the motherless. Erica had cried each time one of the previous placements fell through. All of this was hanging out there over the LTE network in the silent milliseconds following her question. And for me, it was no question at all. The answer was "Yes" and it was "Of Course." We didn't have time to take a few days to pray about it, to consider the implications, nor did we need to.
Yes and Of Course.
"We will need a few things for the baby," I said. "Like...all of the things."
We were totally unprepared. There was no nine-month gestation period leading up to this. We went to work that day a family of four; we would go home as a family of five. Erica hit up a couple stores and quickly stocked up on diapers, wipes, clothes, and a car seat. Some good friends brought us a vacant crib. Over the next days and weeks, we were showered with gifts for this tiny boy. It turns out we didn't need to be completely prepared, we just needed to be willing. God and friends have a way of filling in the gaps.
I always knew that God makes all things new; what I didn't fully realize until that morning is that He literally means ALL the things (new job, new church, new city...why not add a new baby into the mix as well?), and that He is already at work doing this. The Kingdom of God is already at hand, and the work of heaven is already breaking into this world, and into our lives. Our family was about to go through some radical changes in almost every way imaginable, yet fear and doubt were noticeably absent in our hearts. We knew that in all these things we were ultimately saying "Yes" to God and His ways. Though it took those two phone calls to clarify the specifics and the circumstances, the truth is that we had long ago said "Yes" to all of these things in our hearts. Through faith and a pursuit of God in Christ, our desires and dreams had already been shaped for all of this.
We were totally unprepared, but completely ready.