The Wilderness Way

“It’s a boy” the ultrasound tech told us, and my husband grabbed my hand in excitement. A boy! After years of infertility and the adoption of our two precious daughters, God had broken through with the gift of a son.

We each had dreams for this miracle boy. My husband secretly hoped he would be an athlete, proudly wearing the Sanborn name on the back of his jersey. Both of us, having extensive family lineages, were thrilled that the family name would carry on to a new generation.

The day finally came for his arrival. There were difficulties and eventually an emergency c-section, but finally we met our boy face to face.

The operating room fell silent as the doctor and nurses did their work, and later my husband came to me in tears. Our long-awaited boy, this gift from God, had arrived with Down Syndrome and holes in his heart.

Have you ever wondered why God appears cruel at times? When He withholds something good or allows something painful, we run up against the walls that simple religion builds to keep us complacent and safe within the manicured yards of our expectations.

Outside lies the wilderness – the adventure that awaits beyond the bounds of safety and simple answers. It is in the wilderness that we discover who we were meant to be, and encounter a God who is much wilder, much bigger, and much more glorious than we could ever imagine.

Infertility and transracial adoption had ushered us into this wilderness, and Ben’s birth cemented the realization that there was no turning back to ordinary. It was a place we’d thought we wanted to go, but never imagined what it would cost us to enter.

Why do we connect blessing with an easy life? How much of our lives are spent battling for a sweet spot that doesn’t exist? Like Jacob, we wrestle with God for His blessing, trying to force Him to bend to our will, when the dreams we cling to are poor and pitiful compared to the richness and glory of His.

The wilderness is a risky and dangerous place. It demands more of us than we think we can offer. It is also stunningly beautiful, with wonders that flood our souls with purpose and joy. When we finally reach the end, exhausted and exhilarated, will we look back and wish we had lived a small and safe existence? I think not.

We’re over 30 years down that wilderness road now. Along the way we were privileged to adopt another son and the family name will carry on, though that’s not as important to us anymore. It turns out that both Ben and his brother have proudly worn jerseys onto athletic fields.

The standard storyline would wrap all the hard things up with a neat bow, where it all works out in the end, but we are not to the end of our road, and life doesn’t usually resolve that way. And in the end, it doesn’t need to.

Because safe religion and pat answers cannot give us what we need in the wilderness. Only a wild and glorious God can do that.

8 thoughts on “The Wilderness Way

  1. Thank you for your post. I was born with a birth defect, nothing as life-altering as your son’s, but still interruptive as walking has always been a struggle. But, God has worked, and looking back on all of it at almost 64 years of age, I can see how his hand was on my life through the surgeries, the disappointments when improvement didn’t come…but I kept walking (or rolling during wheelchair time). I’m still walking, with a Rollator, and teaching at my school and church. I am convinced that the difficulties and sorrows of this life are what lead us to understand God’s character, his mercy, and the depth of his love for us.

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. Life is a journey full of what we don’t expect. We can choose to move closer to “a wild and glorious God,” like you, Andrea. Thank you for sharing.

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