Chapel focus: Don’t be mediocre … say yes to God
Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Gillian Rea
GCU News Bureau
There’s no telling how many Grand Canyon University students were so moved by Danielle Rinnier’s talk at Chapel on Monday that someday they, too, will adopt a child.
But their reaction showed that, at the very least, they will adopt her spirit of outlandish generosity.
GCU’s Director of Spiritual Life had talked about her young sons – Maddox, 5, and Levi, 4 – in Chapel last February, but many in the audience Monday didn’t know that they are adopted. She likened trusting God in the adoption process to the trust Peter demonstrated in Matthew 14:22-33, which reads in part:
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Rinnier knew she probably couldn’t have biological children when she and her husband, Andrew, were married 11 years ago, and even as people around them had babies, she didn’t think “mother” would ever be on her resume.
“I’m not a huge baby person, so I was like, ‘Oo, good for them. They’ve got to deal with those babies. I’m living a good life over here, going to Target whenever I want, sleeping in, traveling and they’re just constantly changing diapers, so bummer for them,’” she said.
Her heart was changed, however, through prayer as she saw how much Andrew loves children. They had requested a child at least 1 year old when they first decided to adopt, but when they got that life-changing phone call, they were told Maddox was a wee bit younger – he was 2 days old.
“At that point, I had never held a baby, I had never changed a diaper, I didn’t know how to make formula,” she said. “I knew nothing about babies.”
But she and Andrew still said yes.
They got the call about Levi two years later, and you can only imagine what it was like raising two toddlers, and boys at that.
And yet again they said yes.
Like Peter, we just need to trust God and, as Rinnier put it, “participate in what He’s doing.”
“Sometimes we look at ourselves and we look at our failures, our sin, our limitation of resources, maybe the gift that someone next to us has that we don’t have, and we start to think, ‘God doesn’t want to use me. God doesn’t want me to participate in what He’s doing.’
“And I want you to be reminded this morning that that is a lie, that God looks at each of us and He has uniquely made us and prepared us for good works in advance that He has for us to do. But it takes us getting to know God well enough to recognize when He’s at work. It takes us spending enough time with Him that when we hear His voice in the midst of a crazy circumstance, we know (snaps her fingers) – that’s my God and I’m going.”
But we should not expect it to be easy, Rinnier said. And it was tougher than ever when she got yet another call last summer and was asked, out of the blue, to take in yet another child, a girl. She didn’t even have time to tell Andrew before rushing home to accept yet another gift from God.
Of course she said yes. And of course Andrew said yes. And of course there were other challenges.
“If we want to say yes to Him, we should expect that saying yes is going to come with pain and discomfort – it’s going to bring us to places that maybe we don’t want to go,” she said. “But at the same time, I believe in my soul that it will be worth it, that if we don’t say yes, we settle for a life that’s mediocre.
“The only way that you and I can fully experience what God has for us, the gifts that He put inside of us, is if we go to Him and say yes and watch Him use us in ways that we can’t imagine.”
God’s work goes way beyond adopting a child, obviously. But that doesn’t change one recurring factor, Rinnier said:
“God is about redeeming broken people, and if we want to be a part of what He’s doing, we’re also going to be around broken people – and sometimes that means that we’re going to get broken in the process.
“But what Peter learned and what I am learning is that if I know, if I have confidence that God is the One who has called me, I can trust that He will also sustain me.”
She asked her audience a simple question: Do we want to live a life of eternal significance?
“Because if we do,” she said, “we should expect that it’s going to be uncomfortable, that it’s going to cost us, but that it’s ultimately going to be worth it. God has demonstrated His love for us in that same way.”
Rinnier said she was moved by the positive response she got from students the rest of the day, but here’s the funny part: Some of them didn’t even know that she’s a mom.
You can bet they have a new perspective about someone they admire … and, quite possibly, a new perspective about adoption.
● Chapel replay
● Next week: No Chapel (fall break)
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].