Before I hand it back to my friend, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss writing about Mary Beth Chapman’s book, Choosing To SEE. I picked it up and like any great book, I could not put it down. I think I read most of it standing up even, before I realized I was hooked and gave in to the cozy chair in my dining room.
Mary Beth and her husband, Steven Curtis, who I’m sure you’ve heard of if you’ve ever listened to a Christian radio station in your life, have lived through an incredible journey. She tells briefly of her life–marrying, seeing his career take off, having 3 children, and then adopting 3 little girls from China. Those stories are inspiring and I love their heart for adoption. Reading this book made me want to adopt again regardless of several sensible reasons I have to not adopt again, at least not at this time. They have also started two ministries, one of which personally affected our family. I’ll never forget the day I got the letter saying we were receiving a HUGE grant for our adoption in 2008 from Shaohannah’s Hope! This ministry helps Christians adopt, since finances are often an issue. Their other ministry is Maria’s Big House, which is a home to many babies and children in China who have severe special needs and may never be adopted. (Just as a side note, I am learning that with governments slowing down what was already a slow process in regard to international adoptions, working with ministries who are on the ground in these countries helping orphans who will never be adopted is an extremely valuable ministry. I love that we grew our family through adoption and would do it again in a heartbeat, but sponsoring children, visiting them, and supporting ministries like the Chapmans have birthed, may be the path my fire is going to take…but I still want to be a mommy to more of them as well!)
So, the second half of the book is about the last 3 years of the Chapman’s lives, and those are the most painful years and the most painful pages. She describes the days surrounding their daughter Maria’s death; how this “sweet and sticky” 5 year old left this earth to meet Jesus; and what the Lord has done in this family’s life since that tragic day that changed their whole world. Mary Beth talks about the community that surrounded them, that was an amazing picture painted. Something that really gripped me was that in their grief and loss, they really had to decide if they believed…if they believed in the reality of Heaven, if all this Jesus stuff was TRUE or not. Because if it was true, then yes, they could grieve with hope. They couldn’t get stuck (and they didn’t) in the place of “why”; they were so mature and humble to not stay there! Their hope was not in being able to ever understand. Their hope was set on the truth of the gospel, that Jesus was with Maria and that they would all be together again someday when this short life is over.
There are some miraculous events that happened to them as encouragements from the Lord. Little things that were just sweet of Him. One of my best friends has said to me after a tragic event in her life: “The Lord has been so sweet to me this week.” It takes a lot of faith and humility before the Lord to say this, and these fellow sufferers have that in common. Suffering really does make us come face to face with what we believe, and face to face, eye to eye, with our Savior. None of us would choose suffering, but it’s worth it…ouch…that hurts to even say that, but I know its true. He really has overcome the world, this world He promised would be full of trouble. The great news is that when we are surrendered to Him and not holding on to our way and our wants anymore, it is a win-win situation. Earth, Heaven, life, death. In all four, we have Jesus, if He is our everything. I believe this perspective is the key that so many believers carry–all around the world Christians are living in unimaginable realities, and have the peace of Christ.
The last thing I was left with:
The Chapmans believe that God has entrusted them with “hard” and they feel it is their responsibility to steward it well. That is astounding. And true. And a new thought to me! It is making me think in those terms…”What have I been entrusted with? How can I steward it well as unto the Lord?” This story is an ugly thing for their teenage son, Will, who was driving the car that hit Maria, to learn how to steward well. I’m sure he is saying, “Anything else, Lord, anything, but not this!” So, the seemingly good (talents, skills, spiritual gifts), the seemingly bad (our pasts, weaknesses, even sins we keep fighting), the seemingly pointless (difficulties or disabilities we personally face in relationships or jobs, stuff that is happening with our kids that we are just trying to get through), and even the seemingly ridiculous (quirks and weird stuff that God deposited in us that makes us us) are things we have been entrusted with and must decide to and learn to be good stewards of. No skeletons in no closets, friends! Nothing unusable. Hmm…
I recommend reading the book, even though it brought on a couple of speechless days and dream filled nights. While she tells the whole story of the accident, she doesn’t dwell on that; she moves quickly and intently through the rest of the story. Anyone who has grieved will gain insight into their own pain through reading this book and those of us that have not experienced anything of this sort can truly benefit as well! I’ve said for a long time (as Martha Kilpatrick’s personal puppet) that we MUST develop a theology for suffering! It’s here and it’s not going away; what does it mean and what do we do with it? This book shows a family who has developed their theology for suffering and millions are growing stronger in their faith as they steward their story well.