The Gift of Trust
(Please listen to Rod’s story by clicking the white play button at the top of this post. You can read the transcript of the story below.)
I do have many hats I wear and titles but ultimately and just organically, I’m nothing more than a child of God. I want to share a story with you about Brandon. I’ll give you a little background on just where I come from. I was a 14 year methamphetamine addict and got radically born again in a dope motel in East Dallas. I wound up going to a place called Teen Challenge for 13 months. And it was a very disciplined discipleship program for those that had problems with addictions. And so after 13 months there, I went to a place called Christ For The Nations. Getting towards the end of my three year period there, I met a girl named Tracy. I’m a single dad with two girls going to Bible school, nothing but Bible school bills, living with my grandmother, driving my grandmother’s car to school and back. I’m definitely not a candidate for a bride. But God thought different.
I’m studying one night in my grandmother’s garage and the phone rings. It’s Tracy’s sister and she says, “When are you going to ask Tracy out? You know she likes you.” And I thought, Okay. So the very next Sunday, I asked her out to go to Braum’s with me and my two daughters as a single dad, in my grandmother’s 1975 Bonneville. The world would say that’s nuts, but she said yes, and the rest is history. Eight months later, no, I take it back, 10 months later, we were married. We’re just at 30 years old, [and I’m like] we gotta have some kids. I’ve got two from my previous marriage that the Lord helped redeem out of that situation and come to find out, Tracy was unable to conceive.
One day I’m coming back from Tyler, headed back to Dallas, and the phone rings. It’s my wife, and she’s crying. She says, “I’m not pregnant.” It was that time of the month. And she’s crying. So I encouraged her, consoled her, and hung up. I had a very raw conversation with God. And I, I believe God really loves for us to just be candid with Him. Looking back on serving the Lord for going on 22 years now, I think I’ve probably heard the Lord the loudest whenever I’ve gotten the loudest with God in regards to just being raw and candid. “I’m your child; You’ve got to give me an answer!” Not from a place of arrogance, from a place of desperate need of having to know the wisdom of God, because you know that that’s the only thing that’s going to direct your life.
So I hung up the phone, and I said, “God,” (I may start crying, if that’s ok.) I hung up the phone and I said, “God, I need a word for my wife. I need a word. I have one hour and 10 minutes before I pull up in my driveway and God, I need a word for my wife.” Of course, God, if you really get raw with Him, He doesn’t take the hour and 10 minutes. In about 60 seconds this is what the Lord said to me in my truck driving back to Dallas. “Son, let Me ask you something.” I said, “okay.” [He said,] “Would it take more faith for Me to heal your wife’s womb? Or would it take more faith for you two to raise one of My kids? And I said, “Lord, that’s a no brainer. It would take more faith for us to raise one of Your kids.” He said, “Okay.” And so I was walking in, I said, “Honey, I just asked God, I said, I gotta have a word for you and for us. Here’s what the Lord said, “Would it take more faith for Him to heal your womb? Or would it take more faith for me and you to raise one of His kids?”” And she just started crying. She looked at me and she knew that I wasn’t smart enough to come up with anything like that and she said, “That’s God.”
We knew what that meant. That meant immediately, that we were going to step into fostering children to adopt them. So we do the process, man; we get trained and we had mediators that were between us and CPS. They did all the, they made sure the paperwork was all handled and stuff. We do all the training. We get processed; we start, we start fostering kids. What we didn’t realize is and you hear all of the media stuff about CPS and stuff. I will say this about the CPS system… They do exhaust every single avenue to keep the children inside the family. They exhaust every avenue. How do I know that? Because we experienced the pain of that; having a child come in, [thinking] is this the one? Is this the one we’re going to get to adopt? Is this the one we’re going to get to raise? So going through several cycles of having to give them back up to the family was very, very– Like, Man, we didn’t know that this pain was involved. We thought it was just going to be a joy ride.
All of a sudden, we wind up with two children and it was amazing because they were full blown brother and sister. But Landon was as white as a cotton ball and Brailey was as black is coal. And we thought, Wow, this is, this is unique. Biracial, Mom and Dad and it was amazing how God just created each one different. We come to the realization that we’re going to adopt these kids, they’re ours. At the first of the year we’re going to start adoption papers and in 2004, they’re going to be our children. We’re going to get to raise them; we’re going to get to love them. We’re going to get to embrace them. We’re going to get to see them grow… basketball, volleyball, it’s a boy and a girl! We’re going to get to do it all. On December the 19th 2003, at 12:03 in the morning, I awaken out of bed, just immediately. And it’s one of the few times that, and I believe the Bible is very clear that there is a shekinah, weighty presence, kabod glory of God that is tangible. That we can experience. It’s not just Old Testament theology and it’s not something that I experience everyday. It’s something very, very rare and very, very sacred and holy moments that God manifests Himself in His shekinah glory. And He did at 12:03 in my bedroom on December the 19th.
This is what He said, “Those children in your house are not yours. Give them up.” As real, and it’s tangible. This wasn’t an emotion. God was in my living room. Present in my living room; speaking to me, just like I’m speaking to you right now. He says, “Do not adopt those children. They’re not yours.” The first thing I begin to do is rationalize. Wait a minute, God. This is a perfect setup. We can have those, we can have those children in two months! The paperwork’s done. They’re in a good home. Why wouldn’t you want them to be in our home? We’re going to raise them as Christians. Why? All these things are going through my mind. I thought, you know what, I got to get to the Bible, I gotta get the Bible. So I broke my Bible out and immediately wound up in Isaiah 33, 32-33 [Isa 37:3] right in that area. It speaks about, it’s time to give birth but there’s no strength to push them out.
*Landon had a very, very severe reflux issue and we just toiled with that at night. I watched my wife lose about 15 pounds just toiling over the last several months; toiling with these two children. And of course it is time to give birth but there’s no strength to push them out. And I thought, Well, you know what, God I’m glad you told me that. But I am not— Tracy was in the other room rocking, trying to console Landon because he was having one of those reflux issues; trying to console him and get him back to bed. And I said, “That’s great God, but You woke up the wrong person. If You want that woman in the other room to know, I’m not gonna tell her.” About 60 seconds later, she comes busting in the door; walks headlong right into the shekinah glory and this is the first thing out of her mouth, “Something’s not right.” And she walked right into the presence of God, and I’m sitting there going, “Honey, God just said we’re not supposed to adopt these children.” And I’m glad I married the person that God told me to marry because we were so in tune with this moment, and knew that this was God.
As hard as it was, we called up our Christian mediators and said, “Hey, remember when you guys said, “If God said anything, that we better obey God?’” And they said, “Yeah.” And I said, “Well, the Lord woke us up and said, we’re not supposed to adopt Landon and Brailey.” They said, “Okay, if you believe that that’s God then here’s what we’ll do. Y’all have a blowout Christmas with them. You love them; you blow out Christmas with them. And the first of the year, while y’all are having a blowout Christmas, we’ll find a transitional home for them to move into — another family. We’ll find that for them so it will be a smooth transition.
You have to learn a lesson that’s real hard to learn and most of us don’t learn in our Christian walk. And that’s the lesson of trust. Faith is an easy lesson. Trust costs you everything.
We took them to the neutral home to drop them off and we, we dropped them off. We got into my truck and my wife slid down in the seat and started kicking the front windshield saying, “Why God? Why? Why?” I watched, in that moment, my wife die; die to what she wanted. In moments like that, when you’re dying to what God wants for your life, you can’t understand it. You have to learn a lesson. It’s real hard to learn and most of us don’t learn it in our Christian walk. And that’s the lesson of trust. Faith is an easy lesson. Trust cost you everything. And here’s the odd thing about it. God told us to do this, but we didn’t get a phone call for months– silence, nothing but silence.
And then all of a sudden, in May 2004, we get a phone call. “Hey, we got this little boy. You want to foster him? And my wife was like, “Yeah, we hadn’t heard nothing for going on like, five months. Yes, we want to foster him. Bring him to us.” Well, they roll up to the front door, my wife’s an R.N., they roll up to the front door and they pull this little baby boy out. He’s in a little car seat, they pull him out and my wife looks at me and says, “He’s microcephalic. There’s something wrong.” But he had the biggest blue eyes and the biggest, long eyelashes. You just, you were just mesmerized by his eyes. I said, “Well, Honey, here’s the deal. He’s here. We’re gonna bring him in our home and we’re going to love on him. We’re going to pour as much of God’s love into him until it’s time for him to go.” They start doing the paperwork and our Christian mediators says, “And when was, when was Brandon born?” And CPS said, “December the 19th 2003.” I think you probably understand what I’m about to say…but the night that God woke me up and told me and my wife not to adopt those children, our son was being born, and he was being born with cerebral palsy. We knew that we knew that we knew that this was our son. And there was a very, very, very, very, very high probability that He had just ambushed us into raising one of His children.
We took him to the best pediatric neurologist and the way that he inspected Brandon was like he was a specimen or something. Just, yeah, look at here, he’s got this wrong, got this wrong, got this wrong. And then he looked at us and said, “So I take it that y’all are thinking about adopting this child?” And we said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Well, I’ll let you know, you both are candidates for sainthood if you adopt this child.” My wife picked up Brandon, and she defended Brandon has a mama bear for the very first time. I knew when we left that doctor’s visit, Mama was holding her baby.
One of the things that he said is, “This child will never walk and this child will never talk.” Well, he had braces on his feet and used a walker. I taught a Sunday school class in a gym and I told all the Sunday school class that my son is going to run around in this gym, in his walker, while I preach the gospel. Can I tell you it wasn’t but several months later that Brandon did not need a walker anymore and we took the braces off his feet and he walks?! Now, is he going to run a 4.7 in the 40 yard dash? No. But he walks! Said he’d never talk; I can’t get my son to shut up. I’ve learned more about God, my Father and how much He loves me… Every time I give my son a shower, he’s going on 16 years old; I have to give him a shower every day, not every time I give him a shower, but the majority of the time, I hear Brandon say, “You know Dad, I’m gonna be a perfect father one day.” I said, “Oh really, son? How do you know you’re going to be a perfect father?” And he says, “Because you’re a perfect father.” If you knew where I come from, my dad walked out when I was two and here I have my son telling me, telling–someone that has no, no grid on how to be a father–he’s telling me, “I’m going to be a perfect father one day, because you’re a perfect father.” I said, “Well, why do you think I’m a perfect father?” And he says, “Well, I’m going to give my son a shower just like you give me a shower.”
I can’t tell you how many things I’ve learned theologically, about the love of God, that I never learned in a textbook; I never learned in a three credit course, but what God could only teach me through my adopted son. I kind of love how God’s orchestrated my life; and me and my wife life, in a manner in which were dependent upon Him every day. I’m so glad He didn’t give us the comfortable road. I’m so glad He didn’t give us the easy way. I’m glad He didn’t give us the white picket fence, American dream in regards to what we think life should be for us. I’m glad He didn’t do that. I’m glad He’s allowed me and my wife to have to wake up every day and totally depend upon God, because we’re raising not only our child, but God’s child.