In December I shared the story of Ryan, Morgan, and Charlie: two dear friends and their little boy who is stuck on the other side of the world.
Today, Ryan will land back in RDU after being in central Africa for 65 days. In that time he has followed every lead, checked out every contact, and met every conceivable person of power who would sign the paperwork so that Charlie – his legally adopted son – could leave the country and come home.
It didn’t happen that way.
Oh, it could have happened. Ryan could have shelled out some money and signed a few papers and corrupted officials would have looked the other way while he put Charlie on the plane. But my friend has too much integrity to let such a story cloud Charlie’s story. And so he returns to Durham today, alone yet not alone, and yet without his son.
It’s not supposed to be this way.
I don’t understand it. I can’t wrap my mind around it. There was supposed to be an 11th hour miracle, a story that we could celebrate, a prayer that was answered, a door that finally opened. Today was supposed to be the day that we all met Charlie, that Raleigh-Durham Airport was overrun by well-wishers, and the day that Charlie would meet his big brother and sister and sleep in his new bed in his new house in his new city.
I don’t know why this has happened. I don’t know why Ryan and Morgan have to wait even longer and spend more money and take more trips and beg more politicians to release their son. I don’t know why adoption has to be such a struggle…a spiritual warfare battle of epic proportions where evil is tangibly felt and good seems to be in short supply.
I don’t know any of these things, but I do know this: the story has not ended. The period has not been added. The chapter has not been closed. The outcome is still unknown. Yes, there may be more agony before there is relief. But what Ryan and Morgan know is that Charlie’s story is still being written. And they know that because they trust in a sovereign God who may not show his hand, but he most certainly extends his heart.
Is it easy? No. Will that knowledge help them sleep better tonight? Probably not. But as I watch their faith rise through pain and their grace displayed through tears, I know that they’re not just seeking their son, they’re seeking their Daddy. And he loves them even more than they love Charlie. His plan reaches farther, spreads wider, and delves deeper than they may ever know this side of heaven. That may sound like so many platitudes, like Ryan and Morgan are simply stepping out in faith. But I ask you: what else do they have? What else do we have? Had all of this gone textbook-perfect and we were cheering Charlie’s homecoming today, it would still have been a journey of faith. To accept the joy but reject the sorrow is not faith. To understand the mind of God is like a sponge absorbing the Pacific: it can’t be done.
So readers…believers…I’m asking you to petition God on behalf of Charlie and trust God on behalf of Ryan and Morgan. They need us to stand with them now as much as we ever have. Charlie’s heavenly Father remains by his side even though his earthly father is an ocean away. And that heavenly Father can do more than we can ask or imagine, and he will accomplish and complete Charlie’s story in a way we can’t fathom.
This weekend our pastor very wisely walked us through a time of prayer for the Dohertys, helping create a framework for how to trust God when our prayers don’t get answered the way we think they should. I would encourage you to take eight minutes and watch that video.
Ryan shared the following passage from John 14 on his Facebook post before boarding the plane in Africa. I think it’s timely not only for Charlie and Ryan, but for the rest of us as well:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going….I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…Because I live, you also will live…Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid… the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.”