Sunday, February 23, 2014

Prepare for battle and Pray! What did you say?

Written by Jim:
The other night Kimmie ran upstairs saying "I have to watch the news."  By my memory this happens about once a decade.  West of the international attention in Sochi, Russia the pictures on the news captured turmoil in Ukraine. "How is the violence in Ukraine affecting Igor and your adoption process?"  That is the question we have received and wondered ourselves this week.  We process this question against a backdrop of a decade of significant decline in international adoptions.  Regulations and geopolitical factors have definitely played a role in this trend.  This week's violence has transformed a beautiful Independence Square into devastation as portrayed by this "before and now" composite CNN picture.

True, if our adoption moves forward then government workers in Kiev need to be able to get back to work.  Our plan this week was for a packet of 32 apostilled documents to be delivered to a family traveling to Ukraine to be translated for processing.  (I inserted the link because a month ago I had no idea what that even meant.)  The snow and ice across the South fortunately delayed the delivery of those papers.  I say "fortunately" because it appeared for a few days the delivery may have been lost.  Delayed is better than lost.  As it turns out we are not sure the family travelled this week to Ukraine anyway.

It may seem natural that Kimmie and I have been challenged to pray.  However, our challenge to pray started before this week's events and has opened our hearts to consider this mystery of God's design. Prayer seems both incredibly simple and yet amazingly puzzling.  Does our Sovereign God command and use prayer to move our will in line with His or is it more that God responds to us in granting our petitions? Does God use prayer to remind us where our strength comes from or as a vehicle to provide strength to us? Does God direct us to pray in order to draw wisdom and direction from Him before we do His work or is prayer a key part of the work he has called us to do?  As we meditate on examples in scripture and reflect on our lives we see all of these statements as being true inclusive of their apparent contradictions.

This month I have been challenged to pray by layering the messages of my favorite radio program, Family Life Today. Stephen_Mansfield challenged me that "Manly men do manly things" including "tending their field" and looking after the well being of those in it.  Dr. Larry Crabb describes the essence of manhood as stepping up and moving into the situations that are difficult.  Regarding our wives this means "moving toward" their wives in love.  Sam Ingrassia challenged men to move toward your wife by praying for and with your wife although through 37 years of his ministry that was not a routine he and his wife shared.  According to his statistics I have been in the majority where this has been difficult for me and I long for that to change.  These last two weeks have given me opportunity to pray for and even a few times with my wife.  It has been a real joy to me.

Kimmie was challenged to pray this week reading through Ephesians 6.  Here we get a description of a Roman soldier preparing for battle.  Tradition says after meticulously securing each piece of armor, grabbing a helmet and taking up a sword the Roman soldiers would line up for inspection, hit their breastplate and shout "integritas" to signify to their commander "I am as ready on the inside as I appear to be on the outside."  They proclaimed their integrity as a soldier prepared for battle. Today we might picture Drew Brees getting his team fired up before a game.  What we don't expect is how the sentence continues in Ephesians 6:18.  "Take up the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, PRAYING at all times in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication.  Our first action as a soldier is to PRAY?!

We are thankful that God encourages us to bring our petitions to him recognizing that we are His soldiers and that He is the one who fights the battle and secures the victory.  Because of our human limitation the darkness of the unknown and physically distant is intimidating for us and yet we celebrate that it is no challenge to God.  We are motivated to pray out of His love for us and Igor knowing that it is in Him that we have cause for hope.

This week we have rejoiced that Igor resides in an Eastern provence of Ukraine away from the fighting in Kiev. Yesterday we celebrated Ukraine's parliament calling for new elections in a couple months.  Today we read in the newspaper the President has been granted refuge in Ukraine's Russian speaking Eastern territory.  Igor lives in this region.  So as I close we have three prayer requests.
1.  Please pray that the ongoing tensions in Ukraine will not interfere with Igor's wellbeing or the adoption process.
2.  On Friday, Kimmie, Ellie, and I will be fingerprinted by the FBI, which is the final step that must be done before our dossier can be sent to the Ukraine for approval.  It also signifies the last hurdle in obtaining US approval.  We will be calling the USCIS office on Friday to plead with them to FedEX our approval to us instead of mailing it out.  This could allow us to send our dossier to the Ukraine 2-3 weeks earlier.  Please pray that they will be sympathetic to our request.
3.  Pray that the name of God would be lifted higher in our lives.

From "Stronger" written by David Garcia, Benjamin Glover and Christopher Stevens and performed by Hillsong:

No beginning and no end
You're my hope and my defense
You came to seek and save the lost
You paid it all upon the cross

You are stronger, You are stronger
Sin is broken, You have saved me
It is written, Christ is risen
Jesus, You are Lord of all

So let your name be lifted higher

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