A Thirty-Six Year Journey

A Thirty-Six Year Journey

by Heather Bock

My journey began thirty-six years ago. You see, I’m about to turn forty years old–a milestone that both disturbs me and heightens my desire to follow what I feel God has called me to do and live this life fully for Him. As Switchfoot sings: “Life is short; I want to live it well.” Standing here at forty, looking forty but feeling twenty, let me tell you: it seems very short. How can I waste a minute?

Thirty-six years ago, four years old, bubbles piled high in the bathtub, I told Jesus I wanted Him to come into my heart. What does a four year old know? Not much. I just believed that my mom knew what she was talking about and that I wanted to partake in those crackers and juice the next time they were passed around in church.

Two or three years went by, and I trusted my mom when she said I had said that prayer, but I sure didn’t remember it for myself. I doubted whether it was real, whether He was really living in me or not. I couldn’t stop praying, begging Him to come into my heart. Please, Jesus! Please, Jesus! One day, an almost audible voice whispered gently to me, filling me with certainty and warmth: “I am in your heart. You don’t have to ask anymore.” I never asked again.

He’s been with me ever since, encouraging me when I was disheartened, guiding me when I was uncertain of my next step, leading me closer and closer to His heart. Taking me from a faith that was my parents’, He gave me experiences of Himself on my own. He pursued me as I pursued Him, and I began to fall in love with Him.

One thread in this walk of mine involved something dear to God’s heart that He transferred to my own. It started with Anne of Green Gables, after which I went on to devour as many of L.M. Montgomery’s thirty-five or more published books as I could find, most of them centering around the same type of character: a lonely, misunderstood orphan finding acceptance. Sometime in or before junior high, I repeatedly read The 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, a winsome tale of mostly orphaned puppies trying to find their way to a safe home and finally being adopted by the Darlings. Still in junior high, again and again I read and wept over a story about a girl whose mother died of cancer, leaving her an orphan.

In high school, I fell in love with the book and musical Les Miserables, especially the character of Cosette, the mistreated and orphaned waif who finds the love of a father when Jean Valjean protects and adopts her. I was enamored with the story and songs of The Phantom of the Opera, about a young woman left alone after her father died, whose loneliness was taken advantage of by another destitute but evil man. I even often sang along with the musical Annie, treasuring the song “Maybe,” sung by wistful, mistreated orphan girls. Sometime along the way, I learned of how I myself was a spiritual orphan who God had adopted into His own family.

As I grew, I knew I wanted to adopt someday.

This thread wove through these thirty something years, tangling up in places, seeming never to come to an end. My patience wore thin at times. I begged, “God, when is this going to happen?? I thought orphans were important to You!”

He worked through me, molding my heart, prying a little looser my tight grip around this dream.

Until this year. January 1st. I asked God what word He wanted to give me to focus on this year. I was thinking something like patience or humility or some other character trait.

But no. Sending my heart thudding and fear of disappointment rising high, He audaciously whispered, “Adoption.”

I didn’t believe it at first. Did I really hear right? I needed three more confirmations before I would semi-trust Him on this one. Then, after so many years of standing still, the wheels started moving quickly. Test after test came, challenging my trust in Him, keeping those fingers loose around that dream, forcing me to follow His lead in how He wants us to do this. Now here we are, our house on the verge of becoming a licensed foster home–a foster-to-adopt home, as I so fervently hope.

Now that I’m here, closer to the end of this quavering thread, but really to the beginning of it all, ironically, I battle with fear. The close-up view is much more frightening than it was back when I starting reading that first line: “Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow…”, back when I first glimpsed in my imagination a scrawny, longing, red-haired girl with wide, dreamy eyes perched in the train station.

I don’t know where God will lead us next. I don’t know the end of this thread in my story. I do know that I can’t imagine walking away from Jesus on this journey. Forty years are almost complete, thirty-six walking with Him, and no matter how many months or years I have left of this brief life, I want to be right by His side.

Original photo by Erik Kossakowski on Unsplash

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