This morning I was looking back through some of our videos from Kazakhstan. It’s always a good time. It just doesn’t get old. Most things get old, this may someday, too. But not today, not tomorrow, not soon. It just doesn’t get old. The memories don’t seem to have faded much at all. I still remember smells of the baby house very vividly. I remember our most trafficked places. I remember the people, and our apartment, and most of all I remember Sam when he lived at a baby house.
When I watch these videos and look through the pictures, remembering the stories of that season, I remember how great those days were. I’m not romaticizing it. I do remember how much I longed to be done with it, but I also remember who God showed us he was in those days. And I remember how much we realized we needed each other. I remember that the mercies of a kind and loving God are new every single morning, and they never fail. I just remember a lot that I cannot put into words, things that may never find a way to be contained by words, but they have forever changed a handful of people.
As I watched these videos, like I do most nights, I just begged God to save Sam, to draw him to himself and show him more than he could ever imagine. The gospel is a rich, rich story. It holds life. On days of suffering, on happy days, the gospel is always the gospel. It is always the same. It will forever be the greatest story ever told.
I was talking with a friend the other day about suffering and how it changes you. He made a statement one time that I will not forget anytime soon. He said it’s hard to trust someone until they’ve been through the fire of suffering. I’ve thought about it a lot over the last couple of years, and talking with him the other day there was a sense of understanding that just comes across that someone who has not been through that fire cannot identify with. They can care immensely and love me incredibly, but there is a connection that isn’t communicated with words–communicated through the eyes–that only comes from having been on that road before. It’s not a pleasant road, and it doesn’t cause you to brag as you look back. It’s a hard and humbling road.
But that road, and others having traveled it before, is a very rich road. And all it does is make you stare into the gospel, into the face of Jesus, and learn to shut up. Maybe you weep, maybe you just look and listen, or maybe you ponder things you could never understand before. But because of that road you always, always cling to the gospel and treasure it. You treasure people who treasure it.
You remember the days when Sam was learning to be ours and we were learning to be his. You remember what it was like to pick him up every day, twice a day, to visit him. You remember leaving him every night and knowing what it might be like to have him taken or to be told “no.” You remember that God’s power is over everything, and no one acts unless he ordains it. You remember that the gospel is glorious and bigger than anything else we know, and that everything that points to it and magnifies it does exactly what it was created to do. These are the things I remember, and therefore I have hope.
And now, Sam, you are the most beautiful representation of the gospel I know. And we pray that God will draw you to himself and call you to be his. We love you, Sam.