My wife and I are adopting.
Even though I have said and written those words many times, they still hit me in a surreal manner. I instinctively think something like this: We’re not really adopting; this must just be a dream or something.
But it’s real! In fact, yesterday it just got very, very real.
We heard our baby’s heartbeat for the first time.
The Baby’s Heartbeat
Wendy, my cousin and our birthmother, had a doctor’s appointment yesterday and we went with her. The doctor and her assistant helped Wendy get into position and placed the listening end of a fetal heart rate monitor on her stomach.
And then we heard a series of sounds that brought this whole adoption thing out of the realm of “no way” right into the realm of “yup, it’s real.”
After listening for a little while the doctor told the assistant that the heart rate was 145 beats per minute. But I wonder what the heart rates of my wife and I were? I know that my heart was racing at a pace that felt like a million beats per minute!
That tiny baby’s heartbeat, which is in the normal range by the way (I Googled it!), represents a lifetime of stories, heartbreaks, love, and excitement.
That tiny heartbeat will change our lives forever.
This whole experience kind of reminds me of when I first heard the heartbeat of Jesus.
Sadly, I lived for more than 20 years as a follower of Jesus before I really heard this heartbeat myself.
Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I would hear a faint sound that might have been Jesus’ heartbeat. I certainly heard other people talk about experiencing his heartbeat firsthand.
But I hadn’t, at least not consistently.
But a few years ago I pulled my head out of my academic books (where it had been buried for 7 years at the time) and came up for air. I realized that while I was on my self-imposed academic exile, an entire movement within the Church had taken on full form.
That movement is called the missional movement. (Here’s a post where I talk about this process in more detail.)
That word, missional, has definitely hit buzzword status and, as such, it needs a bit of explaining. So, here goes: “missional” means to be on mission with Jesus. As Hugh Halter puts it in his book entitled Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation down to Earth — being missional means being disciples that live the human life of Jesus in our human lives.
So, if we see Jesus doing something, then we should be doing it too. If we see him telling his disciples to do these sorts of things and not those sorts of things, then we should obey. If we see Jesus caring for people, whoever they may be, then we should follow suit.
Here’s a way I like to think about it — being missional means letting Jesus’ heartbeat beat in our hearts.
And what is Jesus’ heartbeat?
I think we see it primarily in two places. And each of these two places is of utmost importance and both should be pursued by followers of Jesus with all of our gumption.
The first is found in Luke 4.16-21:
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Here we see Jesus’ heartbeat in this way: his heart beats for the downtrodden, for the oppressed, and for the forgotten. When our hearts start to mimic Jesus’ heartbeat, then we’ll start caring for the poor, those who are imprisoned, those who are differently abled, and those who are oppressed.
The second is found in Matthew 28.18-20:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Here we find the other side of Jesus’ heartbeat — his desire that his followers would help others follow him too. And who are his followers supposed to help become disciples? Everyone, all the nations.
And what are they to do with them when they start following Jesus? They are to baptize them (making them part of the church family) and they are to teach them to obey Jesus (mentoring them to live the human life of Jesus in their lives).
Traditionally different sorts of Christians have focused on one aspect of Jesus’ heartbeat or the other. Friends, this is simply a cop out. We must focus on both. All of us. Each one of us. Together.
We must be all about justice and we much be all about making disciples.
And hearing the heartbeat of Jesus can change our lives, even more so than hearing the heartbeat a baby.
When you think of the heartbeat of Jesus, what do you think of and why? Let me know in the comments below!
If you would like to know how you can support my wife any I in this crazy process of adoption, click on the following link or copy and paste it into your browser: https://www.continuetogive.com/mattandalida.
To read some more of our adoption story, CLICK HERE.