It is great to be able to look back on a situation and see what God was doing. I have told the story to several people that, when we started our adoption processes with our two girls, I believe that God was both blessing Gina and myself and completing our family, as well as introducing us to the rest of the world. We grew up in rural Indiana in a time and place where there was very little diversity, and I knew very few people who didn’t look like me or came from the same background and culture as me. Because I had, at that time, little exposure to other cultures, it was difficult to have an appreciation for the rest of the world, let alone have an appreciation for what God is trying to do among all of the peoples of the world.
In October 2006, Gina and I traveled to China to complete the adoption of our second daughter, and then again in March 2010, we traveled to Ethiopia for our third daughter. God was doing amazing things in our family, but I believe he was also preparing us for the future as well. I had traveled to Mexico and Canada and all over the US, but those trips to the Far East and to Africa were the start of a journey that, I believe, ultimately led us to Italy where we now work to bless Italians as well people from across Africa, the Middle East, and any number of other places across the face of the earth who are congregating or passing through this place. I think that, in our lives, God was planning ahead to accomplish his plans and goals, not only for that time, but also for the future.
In chapter 9 of the book of Isaiah, there is a great prophecy for the future that is frequently read around Christmas time. It is this:
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
Keep in mind that this is written approximately 700 years before the birth of Jesus. God is putting his plan in place well in advance to give a child to the world. He will have an amazing royal heritage, both from God and from man and will be the One who will reunite God and man again, a bond that was broken all of the way back from first sin of Adam and Eve. This sin that broke the relationship has laid a burden on all of us. It is the same type of sin and rebellion against God that we continue even today.
But now, the people have seen a great light. God has lifted the burden that was placed on us. God has given us a great joy, and this is what we celebrate when we celebrate Christmas. We can see that God was planning ahead, hundreds of years before Jesus entered the world, and he brings an incredible promise, to redeem people back to God.