"...once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." (Proverbs 24:12)
The faces. The cries. The conditions. The stories. The pictures. They all haunt me. It's true that once you've seen, you never forget. We've been changed. Forever. We "saw" almost one year ago. We had no idea how truly changed we'd be after that trip to China. Of course, we went for Emily but she wasn't the only soul who would enter our hearts and stay there for the rest of our lives. We will never ever forget what we experienced in those orphanages.
I remember the faces of so many children. Precious, image-bearing children who have experienced tragedy on a level that I will never understand. Some faces were sad. Others were stoic. Some cried. Many never cried because they learned that no one would respond anyway. Faces with Down Syndrome. Faces with deformities. Some without. Each of them just as precious as the next. The face of that precious 2 year old boy that turned toward me in his crib when I touched him. This particular one, the one I asked to hold but wasn't allowed to, the face that the nanny said didn't have a life behind it. "We don't hold him. He has no brain and is dying anyway." (insert deepest breath ever taken) Pictures of children who sleep in metal cribs, many without a mattress or blanket. Many whose ankles are tied to the cribs so they won't escape. Beautiful faces, left to face this cruel world alone with no one to fight for them, love them, protect them.
Seeing all this... It's almost too much to bear. We could forget. It would be the easy thing to do. The hurt and sorrow over this broken world could be relieved if we let ourselves forget. We don't have to see the conditions of these orphanages as we sit in our safe, comfortable living room. We are insulated. And we can stay here and try to forget. But we can't forget. And we will go back. Much of our hearts are still there and always will be.
My memories are vivid. And it hurts. Some days it's torture. I often wonder how agonizing it must be for Jesus to see what I've seen. He, who loves these children infinitely more than I ever could. And the joy He experiences when just one of these sweet souls are scooped up, told they are loved, introduced to Him, adopted into a forever family. To remember can be torture. But to experience the redemption that only Christ offers through the ministry of adoption brings unexplainable JOY!
This "haunting" is actually a privilege. It's a privilege because for years, Seamus and I have prayed that God would break our hearts for what breaks His and that's exactly what he's done. What an amazing, beautiful, humbling privilege it is to share perspective with Christ himself. Excuse the lacking analogy but there's an old song that says, "you bleed just to know you're alive." I want to be alive. Alive in Christ. Full joy and life comes from sharing the heart of God. Walking through an orphanage in China is like bleeding. It's painful. It hurts. But our experience, haunting as it may be, has helped make our joy complete. We are alive! There is no greater joy on earth than to have Christ revealed... Revealed to us, through us, in us, through THEM. He is present in the darkest corners of this world. He is present in those orphanages and in the images that are tattooed on our hearts and minds.
Jesus, please don't ever let these haunting images leave my head or heart. Don't ever let me forget them. Don't ever let me stop fighting for them. I am your hands, your feet. Let my life be one of sacrifice for your glory, for the good of these helpless orphans who are your prized creation.
The brokenness of what we've seen often feels like more than I can handle. My hope though. My hope is so much bigger.
"They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." (Matthew 24:30-31)
Please come soon, sweet Jesus.