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a display of His splendor

Before I arrived in Bulgaria the Lord began to speak something to my heart.  It was a word I have often used—and thought I understood with all of my being.

That was, until He called us to walk this journey.

Grace.  “An act of mercy or pardon,” as defined by the dictionary.

I had no idea what the Father meant or why, in this season of my life, I needed to understand grace in a far deeper measure.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday I walked through the doors of the orphanage in Pleven and all of a sudden I knew. I understood. Standing in the grey, gloomy foyer, He whispered it to my heart once more.

“Grace, my daughter!  Much grace!”

As we waited for our first meeting with the director of the orphanage, I scoured the photographs up on the walls.  Beautiful children everywhere.  But where were they?  Where were the beautiful almond-shaped eyes on those with Down syndrome and the ones who struggle a little more than most in this life? Where were the pictures of the precious darlings like the sweet one whom I was about to meet?

Sorely missing.

After meeting with the director, we were escorted into another room. A room under lock and key–clearly for the very chosen few.  A room with the most wonderful play area–a delight for any child, especially those confined to orphanage walls.  Yet an odd feeling told me it was a room very seldom used. It doesn’t take much to figure out that cribs make far easier playgrounds. There we were told to wait while they went to get our children from the top floor.

My heart raced.

“Grace, my daughter.”

The moment they handed my new daughter to me will forever be etched in my memory.  She was everything God had prepared my heart for over the past five months.

So tiny.  She cannot weigh more than about 18 pounds. I have to keep reminding myself that she really is 14 years old.

Beautiful.  Hand-crafted and exquisitely created by the hand of the Master Potter.

As I held Hasya in my arms, with fresh tears which literally would not stop, I began to finally grasp what God was preparing me for. 

HIS amazing grace.  Poured out just for me.

And for her.

Oh, that He would choose to love me—flawed, a sinner with nothing to offer my King!  It is only by His grace by which I am saved.

And by which she is to be saved.

I looked down at my fragile daughter, dressed in filthy clothes which she had probably been wearing for the past five days, with dirty hair which desperately needed to be cleaned, an awful odor which exuded from her body, teeth that are yellow with thick plaque and, no doubt, bacteria too, tiny feet with crooked toes (from lack of movement), barely covered in socks which have definitely seen better days, calloused fingers from constantly being chewed on, and limbs so contracted they can no longer straighten.

And in her terribly sad state…I saw HIM—my precious Jesus—the ONE who came to this earth and took on the very nature of a servant (Phil 2).

“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.”
“He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.”
“Like one from whom people hide their faces

he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.”  Isaiah 53:2

And here now.  The child in my arms.

Despised and rejected by mankind.

All too familiar with pain and suffering.

Held in low esteem.

I looked into Hasya’s eyes today and was overcome with such raw emotion.  Everything in me wanted to lash out—to yell, to grill them with“How?!  How can you allow this to happen to a child?” To allow anger to rise up in my heart over the frail, painfully small, severely malnourished, defenseless child who lay absolutely helpless in my arms.  I wanted to know.  I wanted to question.  Every ounce of my being wanted to make the whole awful situation right.

But then I remembered.

Jesus knew.  Oh, how He understood what the child who lay against me had endured for fourteen miserable years!

Grace! He poured out amazing, astonishing grace upon those who had let Him down the most—those who had hurt Him, betrayed Him, spat on Him, rejected and despised Him.

And yesterday, in that moment, He called me to do the same!

In that room, with my darling new daughter who was so unaccustomed to even being touched by another human being, lying agitated in my arms…I was called to do exactly what He had modeled for me…

To extend them HIS amazing grace.  His grace so freely given to me–to be poured out for others.

“I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”  Galatians 2:21

And in my heart, in that very moment, I looked at the ones who had inflicted more pain than my human heart can begin to comprehend upon this precious, most valuable tiny child, and I remembered the words of Christ.

 “Forgive them, Lord.  For they know not what they do.”  Luke 23:34

Forgive them, Lord Jesus.  

Forgive us too! They are not the ones who have been given a mandate [a requirement] to care for the orphan.  We are!  The glorious church!  And sadly, we’re failing them too.  Miserably.  How desperately we need your forgiveness!

As I gazed upon Hasya’s face, heaven came down and the magnificent glory of the Lord shone through. A smile.  A beautiful, amazing, tender smile.

He showed me, once again, what redemption looks like–what His redeeming love can (and will) do for a child….

No matter what they have been through.

No matter how many years they have endured unfathomable life circumstances.

“To comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise

instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
 for the display of his splendor.”  Isaiah 61

Redemption is going to look so beautiful on this child!

It has already begun.

She is indeed a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor!

This is her unfolding story.