The Gospel Of Entitlement

I have been so angry over the last month of my life. Cuss words have flowed freely. So have hot, angry tears. I have said some straight up terrible things. So terrible that Dustin has said often, “that’s not in writing anywhere, is it?” I think I’ve started grinding my teeth in my sleep. I’ve gone on some hard, fast runs and gotten sunburned on purpose just because I want to feel it.

I’ve been trying to find a voice for my anger. Like, real words that are not cuss words. Words that could form coherent sentences. Words of adult human beings. You know the kind. I think I have found them, and now I don’t know if I like it.

I’m angry because this isn’t fair.

I’m angry because this doesn’t seem just.

I’m angry because this isn’t what I signed up for.

I’m angry because doors opened and God moved all for this?

I’m angry because we obeyed and now we’re hurt.

I’m angry because I feel like we deserved a good ending to our yes to Jesus.

Gross stuff of the heart, y’all.

At the core of it all, there is a part of me that believes in this weird gospel of entitlement mentality. I stepped out in faith. I said yes. I obeyed. Therefore I’m entitled for it to work. I deserve a happy ending. I have a right to it. Because THAT’S written on how many pages of the Bible?

The Bible is full of people who followed Jesus NO MATTER WHAT. Some went kicking and screaming. Some tried to run away. Some were angry. Some didn’t understand. Some really didn’t want to. But they followed. They did crazy things. They stepped out in faith no matter the circumstance or the ending because Jesus. Period. Peter. Jonah. Esther. Joseph. Joshua. Rahab. David. Daniel. Job. Sarah. Abraham. Moses. Mary. I mean, we could list them all.

A friend of mine recently sent me a message with a story from a book she was reading. It’s called The Secret Life of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. This book is her story to Christ, and I could not recommend it enough. Her and her husband have adopted all of their children and are a foster family. They had one disrupted adoption because the agency didn’t want to place a black child in a white parent home, which is behind the story below.

S came fourteen months later, as a newborn, in January 2007. With S, we faced our first disrupted adoption. Her adoption disrupted after she was in our care for ten days…When S’s adoption started to unravel, we were faced with the moral question: Do we fight this or concede? We did neither. Instead, we prayed. At first we prayed lofty, conceited prayers, trying to force God’s hand. Then, after we got sick of our own pride interfering with God’s work, we whittled down the prayer to this: a covenant family for this dear child that I hold in my arms, because Your arms, dear Lord, shaped and formed her, and Your arms are the ones that will always hold this dear child, not mine, but yours….

We believe that we adopt children because of need. We reasoned like this: if there is no need, there is no adoption. We reminded ourselves that we are not to called to covet other people’s children….

The day that was S’s last one with us was a dark and fearful one. Did we make the wrong decision? Wouldn’t we have fought to retain the other children in our home? We tearfully brought S back to the agency and there we met S’s preferred potential adoptive family. They are African American and they are Christian. God heard our prayers. Yes, we were hurt deeply. But S wasn’t! In God’s amazing mercy, he used us to protect the baby! Isn’t that at the center of our prayers for our children? He didn’t hurt us to punish us. We were hurt in service to him. Why was S with us for ten days? What kind of spiritual warfare played out in the hidden backdrop of those ten days? Did our humble prayers shake the gates of heaven for this orphan child? Did our prayers avail to much? Did God use our prayers to secure for her a Christian home?

The day that the agency took S away, we found on our porch an expansive take-out bag from the restaurant Red, Hot, and Blue (including my favorite, banana pudding) and this note, scribbled in pencil, with a child’s drawing of a flower with a petal falling off. The note read: A family that never opens its heart never feels heartbroken. A family that never welcomes in others never misses them when they leave. A family that never embraces life’s risks, never really lives. Thinking of you all on this tough day. With love from the many, many people whose lives you’ve touched and who love you all. I don’t know who penned the note or drew the picture. But the note captures for me an often overlooked spiritual truth: betrayal and risk are at the heart of the gospel life. This I know: God heard my prayers.

I sobbed my eyes out while reading this story the first time. I still cannot read these sentences without tears falling down my face. Because this is it. This is it. All day. Every day. I don’t know why I went to Africa. I don’t know why I got to hold a little boy in my arms and tell him I love him. But this I know for sure, there is one little boy in Africa who has rallied the troops and has had hundreds of people around the world praying for him. I cannot even begin to grasp the weight of that. And THAT alone is worth it.

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2 comments

  1. This is strong stuff. The stuff of real life. While I certainly don’t share this particular contact with you two, I know all too well the battle with a faith of entitlement. As I was reading your list of those from the Bible who said yes despite all circumstances, I couldn’t help but think about Jesus himself, whose own “yes” led him to the cross. Thank God for his grace and mercy in the moments and seasons when we think we are owed something because of our obedience. My story is that sometimes obedience and courage are their own gift, it just doesn’t always feel like it. I am praying for you both.

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