Sherri Gragg

Juggler of words and children…collector of pottery shards

Caribbean Christmas, Crossroad of Decision

As I sat there in the Caribbean heat, the mid-December day felt nothing like Christmas.  We were sitting on a low stone wall underneath an arbor upon which some glorious tropical vine rambled along, bursting forth at random with large, fuchsia, trumpet shaped flowers.  In a compassionate attempt to encourage my newly adopted daughter to accept me, Emmanuel, the keeper of the guest house, had picked one and handed it to her, telling her to give it to her “maman”.  Smiling, I thanked her and tucked it behind my ear.  Then, I continued pouring out sorrow that words could scarcely express onto the pages of the journal propped on my knees.mejournalhaiti

The faint strains of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” drifted through the open windows of the house, and I wrote on, my heart breaking but in the place of sincerity before God that comes as he holds his child in the middle of a storm.

“Peace.  Be still.  I am with you always.”

The last two years had been long and hard.  Finally, we had been given clearance to come to Haiti to bring our youngest daughter home with the hope that the passport would be secured for our older daughter as well.  However, things were not progressing in that area and we had begun to fear we would be forced to leave her behind and return for her later.

That morning, we had been told to be ready for the driver at 7:00 am for our return to the visa office with the promise that Claudine’s passport would be completed and brought to us there.  The driver, however, did not come as promised and hope was fading fast.  The time recorded at the top of the following journal entry was 8:41 am.

“A new truth is being revealed to me:  Every day, countless times each day, the child of God is placed at the road of decision.

‘Will you glorify God here child?’

It seems to me that those moments, those choices, are what really matters to God.

We are so focused on the physical realm.  We are consumed with our needs, wants, and dreams.  We are so anxious for God’s provision and deliverance that we fail to see those things are not the real issue.

The real issue is what will we do in that moment?  Will we hold on to faith because He who called us is faithful, even though there is no sign of that for which we are hoping?  Will we praise him for who He is, and not just for what He does for us?

Will we lie down in sackcloth and ashes in the midst of trial or will we dance?

In the end it is the same question that faced Abraham.  Will we choose God even if it means the loss of what is dearest to our hearts?

How could Abraham place long awaited Isaac on the stone table?  It was because even though he could not understand God’s plan, he trusted his omnipotence and his heart.  He believed that even if he slew Isaac, God could and would bring him back.”

You see, trial by trial, moment by moment, day by day for the previous two years, God had been changing me.  In his infinite grace, he sized up my life, my faith, and my relationship with him…and wanted better for me.  That morning in Haiti, I was faced with a life defining question:  Who did I love most?  It was not the first time my Redeemer had posed the question to me.

But it was the first time I answered it correctly.

Long before, in the beginning of our adoption process, just when I was beginning to realize we were in for a nightmare, God asked me the question.  At the time, I was struggling.  I did not understand why God would allow hindrance after hindrance in the journey to bring the girls home.  I was frustrated.  I was grieving.  I was angry.

God however, is merciful and he loved me enough to patiently seek what he knew was even more precious in my life than the beautiful daughters he was giving me.  So, he met me in a women’s worship service at my church.  All around me, women were lifting their hands and voices in praise, but my mouth was mute.  I was so weighted down by my longing and grief, I could not sing.  So, I sat down and began to pray.  Gently, God whispered to my heart, “I want you to long for me, the way you long for your daughters.  I want you to love me like that.”

That night, I struggled with obedience and loyalty but the months that followed nurtured in my life an intimacy with Christ that would change me forever.  I loved Claudine desperately.  It broke my heart to think of leaving her.  As a matter of fact, even as I was turning my heart towards Christ, I honestly did not know how I would keep from falling apart if we were forced to return her to the orphanage and go home without her, but I trusted God that he would be able and faithful to hold me together.  I trusted him to provide for and bring healing to my little girl.

My allegiance lay in the security of my Savior.  I was determined that though my heart was heavy, the rocks would not cry out in my place. (Luke 19:40)  I began to praise God, and as I was doing so, someone arrived at the gate and blew the horn.  Later, Michael would tell me that during this time, he was inside listening to The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir with Claudine.  At precisely the same moment the horn blared, the song God is Working began to play.

“God is working.  He’s still working.  God is working, even now.  Though we often don’t know just how, God is working.  He’s still working.  God is working even now.”

As I looked up, Emmanuel ran outside to open the gate.  It was a surreal moment for me.  A strange resolve, assurance and peace so enveloped me that I was not at all surprised to see that the driver was the director of the orphanage.  We exchanged greetings and she said, “I started thinking about Michael’s suggestion that you guys come down to the immigration office in place of the power of attorney.  I called the immigration director and he liked the idea and wants mejournalhaiti2you to come down there.”

“Okay,” I replied “When?”

“Right now,” she said. “Right now.”

So, we piled into the back of her Range Rover and left.

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6 comments on “Caribbean Christmas, Crossroad of Decision

  1. Josh
    April 4, 2007

    ‘Will you glorify God here child?’

    Right now is always the best time to glorify God. Thanks for the reminder.

    Josh
    “…the word of God is not bound.”
    –2 Timothy 2:9

  2. Kristie
    April 4, 2007

    I’ve been reading far too long without commenting on your beautiful blog. Thank you for your encouragement — your struggle was full, but your faith strong. Today’s entry was especially meaningful to me, an adoptive mom waiting for 2 years this month for our children to come home. “Will you glorify God here child?” I needed the reminder and challenge to search my own heart to find if I am willing to praise God for who He is and not only what He does. Thank you, Sherri.
    I am sure you consider yourself the blessed one, but how blessed too are your girls to have a manman so committed to them and to God’s call that you would without waiver love and perservere for them during those first days when they had such a difficult time accepting and returning your love. Every child should be so blessed to have a manman like that, like you.
    Please keep writing–I am duly convicted and encouraged by every entry so vulnerably and honestly shared.

    Kristie

  3. Candis
    April 4, 2007

    I cannot believe how similar were our experiences–the late driver, the tiny restroom at the rundown Embassy, a toddler with devastating diarrhea… But more so, I must confess my admiration at your intense effort to rest within your faith. I have to admit I struggle with the general interpretation of Christianity. There is a chasm between how I view contemporary Christians and what I think followers of Christ should desire. The gospel of prosperity. The gospel of health. The gospel of success. To me this is heresy (and I am not a practicing Christian). [Ever notice how heresy rhymes with Pharisee?] I see people pray for the seemingly benign desires of their hearts: “Let my son get into college.” “Let my wife get well.” “Let me get that high-paying job.” How about “Let Your will be done”? It may be that college, health, and a grand salary are the very tools of your soul’s destruction.
    Sherri, thank you for daring to express the very idea of God’s will as the raison d’etre for Christians. I recognize in you the essential nature of Jesus–let go. Desire nothing in this world, but behave compassionately towards all.
    If I ever find my religion, you will have been one of the guides along the way.

  4. mama2roo
    April 4, 2007

    Just like the others who commented here–Sherri, today’s post touched me especially.

    (Gently, God whispered to my heart, “I want you to long for me, the way you long for your daughters. I want you to love me like that.”)

    Only I don’t think He whispers it, He probably screams such messages to us but we can’t hear for all the distractions around us. And isn’t this the biggest challenge that we have in this world, to not just give lip service to the love of the Lord, but to truly love Him.

    Thanks for bringing that challenge out in the open again for all of us who read. God is working through you Sherri, through this beautiful little blog!

    Em

  5. everydaymiracle
    April 4, 2007

    Candis,
    Thank you so much for your honest, kind words. Of course, I hope you do put you faith in Christ someday. I want that for you simply because he is so precious and sweet to me. In his presence is fullness of joy (Ps 16:11)

    Em- But my friend, I do believe he whispers. He is a tender Savior. Thanks for being such a treasured, and faithful reader.

    Blessings to all,
    Sherri

  6. mama2roo
    April 5, 2007

    Hehe, I guess I should clarify–when I say screams, I don’t really think he’s yelling so to speak, but I think I meant that those messages are right there in front of us and should be so hard to miss. He gives us ample opportunity to hear Him each and every day. Its subtlety is created by all the other “stuff” that competes for our attention.

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This entry was posted on April 4, 2007 by in adoption, Christianity, family, God, inspiration.
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