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Words of Life

Created for a Purpose

By Jennie Allen August 31, 2014 Words of Life

My son Cooper was born and lived three and a half years of his life in Africa. He is five now and is wrestling with the fact that his skin color is a few – strike that – a lot of shades darker than his brother’s and mine and Zac’s and his sisters’. He keeps running his hand up and down my arm and asking me, “Where can we go that I can get skin like this?” My insides fall apart.

He doesn’t know the painful history of his skin color in our country yet. Right now he just wants to be like his family. His identity is unique in our family. He has a heritage that each of us appreciates deeply, but we do not share. So he quietly asks me as we lie in bed before prayers:

“Why did God make me born in Africa?”

“Why did God put me in another mommy’s tummy?”

“Why did God make me?”

I can’t deny that the answers to many of my son’s questions are painful. Abandonment usually undergirds the beautiful tragedy of adoption, and finding himself in a loving family now can never make that painful truth go away.

It’s usually dark as we lie in bed to pray and talk, and Cooper doesn’t know that every time he asks me these questions I have tears running down my face as I preach my guts out in his bottom bunk. And y’all better believe I turn all charismatic preacher. Because I want nothing more than for Cooper to believe what I am about to say to him.

“Not one part of you is by accident. God made you and placed you in your African mama’s tummy, but he knew even then that I would be your forever mama and we would be your forever family. We were made for you and you were made for us.

“Cooper, you were made to show the world is one, so God gave you a special story because he has a very special purpose for you while you are here. Everything God gives you, your Africa, your America, your dark skin and your strong legs, your hurts, your words, your blessings, your smart mind… everything you have is to use for God while you are here.

“And God will show you how. Soon we will be in heaven with God forever, and while we are here now, we get to use all we have to love people for God.”

My five-year-old needs to know his life was on purpose and for a purpose. He wants to know he wasn’t an accident. I can’t take away the pain of his story, but I can tell him there is a purpose. We all want to know we are not accidents. We all want to know our stories are going somewhere on purpose.

We are all built with something deep down in us to live for a story bigger than ourselves — the story of the one who made us. “He has… set eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

But Cooper will never make sense of his life until he understands that eternal story and the one who made him and placed him in his spot. It’s a big earth, and when he studies it, he sees countries separated by a huge ocean, and he feels lost and small in it.

I think a lot of us feel lost and small.

That’s part of the reason we so desperately want to find “God’s will for me.” We want to know that we exist on purpose and for a purpose. But we only ever discover God’s will for us within God’s will for this earth, for eternity, and for his people.

Why are we here? “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Jennie Allen appears on LIFE TODAY this Thursday. Reprinted by permission. Restless by Jennie Allen. Copyright ©2014 by Jennie Allen. Published by W Publishing, an imprint of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.

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