Do you ever wonder how stories begin? As a child, I can remember wondering what happened before, "Once Upon A Time?" The Bible has a story like that. A story that has a beginning way before the major players come into the plot, or before they are even born. The story that is found in the book of Esther doesn't begin with Esther and her cousin Mordecai, or even with the King and the evil Haman.
Esther's story begins 500 years before her birth with one act of disobedience. King Saul is ruler of Israel and the prophet Samuel is sent with a message from the Lord: "This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.” (1 Samuel 15:2-3, NLT) but Saul didn't completely carry out the Lord's command, he spared Agag and other Amalekites, incurring God's wrath and laying the foundation for a new threat to rise against God's chosen people.
Fast-forward 500 years and Esther (a descendant of King Saul) is queen in Persia and a new villain has threatened the lives of God's chosen people: Haman, The Agagite (a descendant of King Agag). When Haman threatens the lives of the Jewish people, Mordecai (Esther's cousin) sends this message to her: "If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, NLT)
The story of Esther is the only book in the Bible that doesn't mention the name of God at all. But, his fingerprints are on every page. He's working in every day matters. He is clearly the hero, the mighty author, writing over acts of rebellion with acts of bravery and obedience. King Saul couldn't have known the consequences of his actions. He couldn't have known that 500 years after his failure to obey, he would jeopardize the lives of his people. But God knew.
Esther couldn't have known that becoming queen would place her in a unique and influential role with the opportunity to speak for her people and beg for their lives. But God knew.
Michael and I have a story like that. A story that begins long before it seems to. Except our story begins with one act of obedience and love. Sixty-two years ago, three people found themselves in Bogota, Colombia. Emerson Miller with his wife, Irene and his daughter Sharon were stationed in Colombia teaching the Colombian soldiers to use their missile systems.
Emerson and Irene found themselves in a beautiful country with a good job, good friends and a loving daughter. And one heart-breaking realization: they couldn't have any more children. But, they wanted another child. They knew their family wasn't complete yet. So, they began the process of adopting a Colombian child.
The Colombian orphanages were operated primarily by the Catholic Church at that time, and they reached out to one to arrange an adoption. And, they found a beautiful baby boy, they were sure this was the right baby for them. They began proceedings to adopt him.
A young woman named Isabelle enters our story now. Isabelle had several children. When she became pregnant following an affair with her boss (a government official) she made a heart-wrenching choice-to place her baby for adoption. Isabelle had no way of knowing what would happen to her little baby, a girl she named Clemencia. But God knew.
Meanwhile, Emerson and Irene were saddened to hear that their adoption would not be able to proceed, the birth mother of the little boy they wanted to adopt would not approve their match, she wanted her son raised in a Catholic family and Emerson and Irene were Protestant, steadfast believers. We know how they must have felt-to be rejected after so many months of praying and hoping and believing and begging God. They must have wondered why God withheld this little boy from them.
Faced with no other choice, Emerson and Irene and Sharon began a new search for their child to add to their family. This time the orphanage recommended a three month old baby girl-Clemencia. Everything went forward smoothly, Emerson and Irene adopted Clemencia and gave her a new name, Rebecca Susan. Emerson, Irene and Sharon welcomed Rebecca into their hearts and home with loving arms-she was theirs. My grandparents obeyed God and brought my mother home. They couldn't have known at that time how their one act of obedience would shape and define lives for generations to come, but God knew.
Fast Forward, 62 years. Michael and I have been married for 10 years and have found ourselves longing for a child. But over 1,800 days of praying hasn't seen our hearts desire fulfilled. After moving as far down the road of infertility treatments as we believed God was calling us to go, we paused for a while last Summer and together began to seriously consider adoption. We took time away together to pray and fast and earnestly seek God's heart. And we came home knowing God is calling us to adopt.
We talked about international adoption, maybe from Africa, where I have been on mission trips. We prayed hard about which agency to choose and Gladney just kept coming up. We weren't even sure where to begin, and we knew we wanted a to bring home a baby. Still, we committed to the Lord to walk through this process with open hands, ready to give up what He called us to give up and to receive what He called us to receive.
In December of 2016 we went to Gladney for our orientation in the domestic infant program. While were there, the President of Gladney heard our story and asked if we would be interested in meeting the Colombian caseworker. To be honest, we hadn't really considered adoption from Colombia. We didn't even know it was an option.
As we sat and talked with Ella that day, it was like God was stirring in our hearts. We felt drawn to Colombia and we left that day trusting that if we would keep our hands and hearts open, God would lead us. We prayed and talked and prayed some more and decided to move forward-God has a child for us in Colombia!
Only God could have known that our story would lead here-to Colombia, just where my mom's story started all those years ago. No one could have known that God would write over acts of sin with acts of love, no one except God. We don't know how this story will play out, but we're waiting with open hearts and hands-waiting for the family God has for us. Queen Esther was told that God has placed in the position He did, "For such a time as this." Who knows, but that God has placed us here for such a time as this?