And here’s how the story comes full circle. God did not heal Payton’s heart. God healed my heart. And now I have an adopted daughter, Liv. She is the second half of this major story in my life. The Lord has used our adoption of her to show me so many parallels of my relationship with Him. As our adopted daughter, we didn’t adopt her and are now expecting her to earn the blessing of us being her parents. We’re her parents because we love her and have chosen her to be in our home. It’s our delight to make her a room and a home and cuddle her and love her and give her clothes and toys and play with her. We love her for who she is – our daughter, a part of our family. So often we have this perception with our heavenly Father – our adoption into His family happens, and then we live like we have to earn the blessings He’s already given us.
“God had adopted us into his family. He’s called us His daughters and sons. He’s named us His children. You may not have beaten many of your bad habits yet, but the Lord has called you more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). You may have a bouncing bank account, but God has called you spiritually rich (Ephesians 1:7-8). You may not even wear a bathrobe gracefully, but the King of Kings has adorned you with a royal mantle (1 Peter 2:9)… It’s the difference between the ways of the world and the ways of God. The world waits to see you prove your worth, then calls you wonderful. God blesses you and then watches your life become beautiful to fulfill the promise of His words. God buys you with His blood, then lets the world see how brightly you can shine.” (from Lover of My Soul, p.55)
As we talked about what we would name Liv, we decided to really pray about it and ask the Lord what He’d name her. There were things we were praying for her, and one of the things I was praying for her mirrored what the Lord was doing in my life. As God was working in my heart to really understand and internalize His love for me, I wanted her to understand that and be rooted in that from a young age and not when she’s nearly 30 like me.
Olivia (which obviously just comes from olive tree) was one of the names we were considering. As I was reading Psalms one morning, this verse popped out at me: Psalm 52:8-9, “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever (NIV).” “I will thank you forever because you have done it (NASB).” That’s what I wanted to be true of Liv, for her to be that Olive tree blossoming in God’s house and trusting in His love. So I went downstairs and told Aaron that I thought this is what God wanted me to name our daughter. He agreed and it was set.
But the thing about Liv’s name is that not only is it what we’re praying for God to do in her life, it’s a constant reminder of what He’s done in mine. I too am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God, and I trust in God’s unfailing love forever. And I thank God because HE HAS DONE IT. It was nothing I could do, but He brought about this amazing healing and transformation in my heart and life.
I talked a little bit earlier about weeds – lies, fears, and memories – that the Lord has brought healing to in my life and heart. Specifically, there were some memories in our time in the hospital with Payton that were incredibly painful for me. He’s helped me work through fear of losing Aaron and the fear of what others think of me as I worship God and what my relationship with Him looks like. There were lies that He’s uprooted about who I believed God to be and how I believed Him to work, and He’s done so much to start bringing freedom from a strong, legalistic past.
We all have deep roots of weeds in our hearts. They could be a specific fear, a harsh comment or action that still brings pain, am insecurity, or something else that God needs to uproot. I don’t know what those are, but God does and in His great love, He longs to remove those from your life and replace them with His gracious truth and wholeness. Find someone who loves you and loves God, and have them pray with you. Have the Lord bring up any possible weed. Ask Him what He says about them. He knows the deep parts of your heart and what you need. He loves and desires to bring you peace.
Heather Jones is on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ with her husband Aaron. My wife and I had the privilege of serving overseas with them. Aaron is the strength; Heather is the heart, and both of them give of themselves with love for others. God has blessed them with their daughter, Liv, which God gave them by way of Korea. They are in the process of getting a son from Ethiopia. Both of them live completely off the generosity of faithful financial supporters. If you would like to join with them and share in their blessings, you can give here.