“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” Matthew 22:37 (NIV)
“They want to wear what?” I asked.
Phone reception was limited when my husband called from the Liberian orphanage. I strained to grasp each treasured word of our quick conversations.
“Their African Suits,” he answered. “They want to wear their African Suits when they get off the plane in Phoenix. But I told them they are scratchy and there won’t be any place to change on the plane.”
My husband had purchased a matching blouse, skirt and headband for each of our new 8- and 10-year-old daughters, which they called an African Suit. These outfits were made by hard-working tailors struggling to make a living in a war-torn city. They were also the first new items of clothing our little girls ever had.
Our phone call ended, but my mind exploded with questions. Which color did each girl pick? What did the outfits look like? And how could I convince a father (whose parenting experience was limited to three boys) that the “right” outfit was important, even to a girl with nothing to her name?
Of course, my husband had his hands full just getting our daughters home, so I chose not to press the issue. Initially when we decided to adopt from Africa, we planned for them to be escorted to the United States, knowing that political unrest made travel dangerous.
This changed quickly after we learned our daughters knew they were being adopted, and if we traveled to Africa, we could bring them home in weeks, rather than months.
Based on the timing and potential danger, we agreed my husband, Tod, would go. We considered the logistical challenges of a man traveling with two little girls, but it seemed the best solution.
At the time of our phone conversation, Tod was staying in a guest house at the orphanage and caring for our daughters, waiting for their American visas. While they waited, they spent time photographing the girls’ city, visiting the beach, shopping for shoes and gifts, and getting to know each other. They spent a lot of time simply trying to understand each other. While the girls’ native language is Liberian English, it was unintelligible at first, even when spoken slowly.
While Tod was in Africa, I was preparing for them to arrive home.
I also spent a lot of time updating friends and family and asking for prayer. During one conversation, a friend pointed out the beautiful comparison of what God did for us, to our story.
Just as my husband traveled across the world to a dangerous place to save his daughters from deprivation of every kind, so our Heavenly Father sent Jesus to save us from brokenness and spiritual death. It was an incredible picture of God’s love.
As I thought about God’s sacrifice for us, God revealed more parallels. Just like we adopted these two little sisters into our family, so God has adopted us into His family. My daughters brought nothing of value except themselves; we, too, have nothing of value to offer God except ourselves.
My heart nearly burst with love imagining my little girls’ desire to wear their best outfits when they met me. And in that moment, I caught a glimpse of God’s heart. I imagined Him singing with joy when we long to bring Him our best, as simple as it may be.
Whether or not their new dresses were beautiful, or if there were a way for them to change, made no difference to me. The fact they wanted to please me by wearing their best, was all that mattered.
On November 21, 2005, I stood in the airport, surrounded by friends and family. We’d only been there a few minutes when my sister shouted, “There they are!” I’d been looking another direction, and turned my head to see my tall, travel-rugged husband coming through the crowd, holding the hands of two of the most beautiful little girls I’d ever seen — my daughters dressed in African Suits.
I imagine the scene one day, when I’ll make my way through the gates of Heaven, holding the hand of Jesus. Perhaps a loved one will be watching for a glimpse of me and will shout, “There she is!” Even though I’ll be bringing nothing of earthly value, I hope my Heavenly Father looks at me and sees a heart longing to give Him my best.
Perhaps as I did that night at the airport, God will smile, tears will run down His face and He’ll drop to His knees, gathering me in His arms, saying, “Welcome home daughter.”
Father God, thank You for Your sacrificial love. Thank You for adopting me into Your family, so I can be called a daughter of God. Help me to bring my best to You each and every day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Mark 12:33, “To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. (NIV)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Do you ever feel like what you have to offer isn’t enough?
What might change in your giving if you caught a glimpse of how God truly feels when bring your best?
© 2016 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.