Made to Be Seen
About the Guest
Author Sara Hagerty and Barbara Rainey remind listeners that we were created to be seen first by God, and then by the people around us. We're supposed to produce a light that shines, but to do that, it's necessary to move closer to the source-Christ. God is available at any time, so we need to remember to invite Him into each and every moment of our day.
Author Sara Hagerty and Barbara Rainey remind listeners that we were created to be seen first by God, and then by the people around us.
Made to Be Seen
Bob: When you spend time with God in prayer, is it more about duty—or is there delight? Here is Sara Hagerty.
Sara: I think about one of my children—you know, we have adopted four of our children—and one of my children had been very independent when we brought her into our family—and we wooed her. We went for longer walks with her and taught her what it was like just to be a daughter—“Hey, we want to spend time with you.” And in the same way, I think God gives us this invitation into prayer. It’s not, “You need to pray more;” but it actually is, “When you see My eyes on you, you kind of want to talk to Me.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, October 17th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. How do we spend more time getting to know the God who pursues us? We’ll talk about that today with Sara Hagerty. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You’ve taken some of these internet quizzes; right? Do you know—are you an introvert or an extrovert—an ambivert? What kind of –vert are you?
Dennis: Ambivert?! [Laughter]
Bob: You’ve not heard of an ambivert?
Barbara: No; what is it?
Bob: Oh, an ambivert is—you know what an ambivert is?
Sara: No, I’ve never heard that term.
Dennis: So, three out of four people in here are normal.
Bob: You guys are obviously—[Laughter]
Sara: Maybe, you’re the ambivert.
Bob: Maybe. You’re not—
Barbara: —or you made it up.
Bob: You’re obviously not spending enough time online. You can google ambivert.
Sara: I’ve got to pick up my phone.
Bob: An ambivert is somebody who is—like ambidextrous—can adjust how they relate to others depending on the situation they’re in. So, you’re thinking, “Well, isn’t everybody an ambivert?”
Sara: Yes. Wouldn’t everybody want to be an ambivert?
Bob: At some level, I think we all are adjusting all the time—but in different social settings—I think we morph to one or the other.
Some of us like to have the spotlight on us. Some of us would rather be in the corner.
Bob: Some of us—it just depends on where we are and what’s going on, whether we want people noticing us or not.
Dennis: Well, didn’t Jesus say, “We are to be the light of the world,” and that we weren’t supposed to hide our light under a bushel?
Bob: So, you’re saying that we all need to be in the spotlight?
Dennis: I don’t know about being in the spotlight. “We just need to let our light shine,” He said, “in such a way that God is glorified.”
Bob: Sometimes though, the light can shine in the corner—if that’s where you’re hiding out; right?
Dennis: Yes, and sometimes, it can shine on stage which is where Bob is hiding out. [Laughter]
Our guest on the show today is Sara Hagerty. She is the wife of Nate and the mom of six. She has a heart for God, a heart for orphans, and a heart for women having a relationship with God. She’s written a book called Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to Be Noticed.
And I’m going to ask you question about that in just a second, Sara—but I want to also recognize my bride of more than 45 years—Barbara—who is joining us again on FamilyLife Today.
Barbara: Thank you.
Dennis: Welcome back.
Bob: And she has a heart for Dennis and a heart for kids and grandkids—
Barbara: I do.
Bob: —and a heart for moms; right?
Barbara: Yes, I do. Yes, I just—I know what it’s like to be where moms live because I’ve been there. So, I do want to encourage women to—as Sara is talking about—find God where He has you in this season of your life.
Dennis: Sara, here you’ve written a book that is called Unseen—and yet, you nodded your head when I quoted Matthew, Chapter 5, about our light should shine so that God is glorified. We were made to be seen—not hidden—right?
Sara: Correct. He created us—I go back to Psalm 139—“Lord, You have searched me and know me. You know my sitting down and my rising up.
You understand my thought afar off. Where”—farther down—“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? For You formed my inward parts, You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
I mean this whole Psalm is about—even farther down—15—“My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret.” From the very beginning, we were formed under His eye. We were made to be seen. The starting place, though—of where we are seen—is what this book talks about.
Dennis: So, you’re saying that we need to first be seen by God, and then—as we have a relationship with Him—we are to let our light shine to the world in such a way that—
Dennis: —people are going to see God in us.
Sara: Exactly—and in such a way that we know that He’s ordained.
I think that there are a lot of opportunities—especially in our ever connected world right now—to produce a light that shines—but I might suggest that we need to connect deeper to the Source so that we are connecting to His light shining through us in the way that He would have it shine through us.
That we’re not actually forcing a light to shine, but we are actually connecting to Him and letting His light shine through us in the right way and at the right time and at His ordained plan for us.
Bob: Okay. I want you to sell me on this idea that you are proposing here because I’m cruising along, I’m doing fine; you know? Jesus and me—we’re cool; right? I’m involved in ministry. What’s this, “slow down and experience God in a new way”? I’m just kind of like, “You know it’s all good. Leave it alone.”
Sara: Well, I might suggest, not necessarily that where you are, “It’s all good. Leave it alone”—that that’s something to interrupt, but more-so—that there are parts of our day where there is real opportunity for dialogue with God when we invite Him in there—when we invite His Word in there—in the unconventional ways.
I think all of us are familiar with a morning quiet time, but what about—for a woman or a man—while you’re cooking dinner? Or what about while you’re sitting in line at the DMV—opening up His Word and saying, “What do You have to say to me here?”
What I might suggest is that those are the opportunities to invite God to speak. Invite yourself to see His eyes upon you there. As we have those times, could it be that there is even more opportunity for making an impact on His Kingdom?
Bob: Now, you’re not dialing down and spending this time with God so that you can then, go back online in two hours and say, “Here, I had this amazing time with God two hours ago, and I just wanted to share it with you all?” You’re not doing that; are you?
Sara: No—that’s exactly it. This is actually an opportunity to spend the time with God that, maybe, nobody would know about—to spend the time conversing with Him or engaging with His Word that you’re not necessarily going to go teach a Bible study about.
Bob: This is not going to help your social media platform for you to be acknowledging these things.
Sara: My publisher might not like this! [Laughter]
Bob: I know!
Barbara: Yes. It reminds me of the verse where we are told to pray without ceasing—and to me, that’s what I am hearing you say. It’s taking that friendship—taking that relationship—and trying to engage in getting to know God and hearing from Him throughout the day.
We tend to be so sort of “prescribed”—at least I used to be that way more than I am now—but I used to think, “In the morning, I get up, have my quiet time—check that off the list”—and move on to do all the other things. The next morning, have my quiet time—check it off the list—if I was able to, because my kids usually woke up before I could have a quiet time so I usually felt like a failure for not having a quiet time—but regardless. My point is, that many of us tend to look at life and—in order to feel like we can survive—we prescribe it or we structure it or we fix it so that we kind of know what to expect.
Barbara: By doing that, though, we’re not necessarily having this ongoing conversation with God.
Barbara: That’s what I’m hearing from you. I’m hearing you say, “Can I have a conversation with God outside of my quiet time or outside of church or outside of the Bible study I’m participating in? Can I talk to Him when I’m sitting at the DMV or doing the laundry or all of these other things?”—and you’re saying, “Yes.”
To me, that’s what’s so inviting and inspiring actually, too—about your book—is you’re showing us a way to have a more authentic—and even a deeper friendship with God—which is what we all long for anyway.
Dennis: Sara, Barbara read your book, and her comment was: “This book is really about prayer.”
Barbara: Yes, that was my—sort of my conclusion. Would you agree?
Sara: I would. You know you mentioned Paul’s invitation to pray without ceasing—I think a lot of us would hear that and feel guilt—I mean, if we’re honest—
Barbara: Yes, we do.
Sara: —like—“I don’t do that.” So, we sort of guilt ourselves into maybe, a greater disciplined prayer life. What I might suggest is that when we start to see the beauty of God’s eyes on us in the hidden pockets of our day, we actually want to talk back to Him.
I think about one of my children—you know we have adopted four of our children and two of them at older ages—and one of my children had been very independent when we brought her into our family.
So, she could go for hours in a day without connecting with us. That was really familiar to her.
We actually had to train her subtly—I mean we didn’t tell her we were training her—that part of being in a family is you connect, “Hey, even if it’s just you tell me what you’re reading or tell me what you ate for lunch.” It isn’t this, “You live independently; and we’re actually just providing for your needs and you’re under our roof”—but we have an ongoing relationship. I think in many ways our relationship with God is similar. We need to be trained.
But part of being trained with this particular child—we called it Project Woo—and we wooed her. We took her on ice cream dates and took her out to get hot chocolate, and we went for longer walks with her and taught her what it was like just by engaging with her to be a daughter: “Hey, we want to spend time with you.”
In the same way, I think God gives us this invitation to prayer. It’s not you need to pray more, as Paul invites us to pray without ceasing—but it actually is, “When you see—
—My eyes on you, you kind of want to talk to Me more.” [Laughter]
Dennis: Yes. Let’s talk about a time in your marriage when you and Nate were struggling with having children. How did that impact your—view of God, your relationship with God—and how did He use it in your life?
Sara: I believed that God was good because I could see other people’s—demonstration in other people’s lives—of God being good. I knew what His Word said about Him being good; but when I was really quiet and outside of just the realm of everyday life, I recognized that deep down inside it didn’t feel like He was good to me because my friends were having their first and second and third babies, and my womb was barren. So, if He was good and I was spending time regularly asking Him to open my womb, it must be actually that He is just not good to me.
I remember one particular day, fourth floor of Martha Jefferson Hospital—
—which is where my friends all had their babies in Charlottesville, Virginia and I felt like I could have gotten a frequent flyer pass. I went to visit one friend, and she said—I was just kind of asking her about her labor, though not really even knowing what to ask because I hadn’t experienced it—I said, “Do you think you could do this again?” She said, “Well, sure, I mean this is a rite of passage; right?” And as she said that, my heart sunk—
Sara: —because I thought, “Oh, that’s a rite of passage for you, but it’s a do not enter sign for me—I can’t get there.”
So, I left that hospital room, walked down to the elevator, took the elevator down to my car with my heart just sinking on the inside. Kind of—it’s all coming together for me like—“They keep getting what I want, and I’m not. So, the variable here must be me, God. It can’t be You because You are good.”
But in that time and in that space, instead of—one option—and we didn’t have social media then—but one option, at that point in time, could have been scroll my phone, look at what other people are doing in their lives, check out on social media,—
—fill my mind with some kind of noise—but the other option really felt like an invitation: Get quiet before God and say, “This hurts,” and have a dialogue with God.
For me, it was in the Psalms. I mean the psalmist felt like they wrote my song so I used the Psalms to pray to Him—“I feel that You’ve abandoned me. I feel that You’ve left me, God. What does Your Word say about ones like me who are brokenhearted?” And I read that His Word says, “He’s near to the brokenhearted,” and I start to go—“Okay, maybe, it isn’t that You’re not good to me. Maybe, it is actually that You have something for me here in this barrenness.”
Bob: Did you ever—in the midst of that—lose faith?
Sara: You know, I actually didn’t. I think at that point in time, it still felt fresh to me and I was connected enough to people in my world. I think—for me—it was much more subtle. I was starting to grow cold on the inside which could be potentially a worse flavor of losing the faith—saying the right things but feeling cold on the inside.
I would look at what God was doing in other people’s lives and see that it just wasn’t matching mine. So, I could still keep saying the right language but—on the inside—feel like I’ve been forgotten.
Bob: You think about that in human relationships—I mean, if we are spending time with a husband or a wife and we’re disappointed at what’s going on and how our life is going—you can develop that coldness, that alienation—
Bob: —that isolation. We talk about it at the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways all the time—that the natural drift of every relationship is toward isolation. It’s not toward oneness. If that’s true in marriage, then the natural drift in our relationship with God is toward that place of isolation or busyness or distraction—not toward a place of oneness. That has to be intentionally pursued.
Sara: That’s exactly right.
Dennis: And if you are pursuing that, there will be some points of growth, some lessons learned. You will see God at work.
I wonder how that kind of worked its way out for you to adopt two children from Ethiopia and two from Uganda. Did God use that time of barrenness to give you a heart for the orphan?
Sara: You know we always had a heart for adoption. We lived with a family—we were building a house and—while our house was being built we lived with a family who had adopted. The first night that we stayed there, my husband and I said to each other, “We think we are here much more than just for a place to stay.” We were witnessing this melded family—and I think both of us sort of passively were going, “Huh? We could see ourselves doing this.”
Like every young couple, we thought trying to have children meant having children. We certainly didn’t think it was something we’d do so soon but—several years into our struggles with infertility—this family was still in our lives. We’re still watching the fruit of their outpouring and their melded family and going, “I think this might be for us.” So, maybe, much sooner than we would have had the idea been entirely new we—
—instead of walking down a long road of pursuing lots of fertility options—we decided to adopt.
Dennis: What did you do?
Sara: We spent a summer praying and asking God, “Where—where are our children? If we’re to adopt, are they here domestically? Are they international? Where?” Really felt drawn specifically to Africa. At that point in time, Ethiopia was the only country open in Africa for adoption. There was a real natural fit with a program there, so we started the adoption process. We sort of shocked everyone in our world and said, “We think we’re going to do this!”
Two years later, we were in Ethiopia, and we brought home our first two children—but while we were there for that week, we went to tour our children’s orphanage, and there was a girl there giving tours. She was a young girl—seven/eight/nine—and it was clear that her role at the orphanage was, “I show the families who are coming to get their babies what the orphanage is like. That’s what I do.” But she had this look in her eyes as she’s showing us around that just said, “Take me home.”
Sara: We left there and I said to Nate, “We have to go back”—not necessarily for her particularly—but my heart was just so tugged for the older child who is in an orphanage less likely to be adopted watching the babies born and turned over into families arms within months.
A year later, we started the process adopting from Uganda. At that point in time, we adopted two children outside the birth order—we adopted a five year old and a seven year old from Uganda. So—within two years—our family grew from just the two of us to six of us total—six bodies.
Dennis: Yes; there you go. And not long after that, you got pregnant.
Sara: That’s exactly right. It was a little bit longer. It was—we had been married for 13 years when I conceived our first biological child.
Dennis: So, take us to the moment when God answered that prayer.
Sara: It’s interesting—it was early in the morning when I found out that I was pregnant; and after having been down the road—
—those listeners who have been through infertility know—you could—you’d want to buy pregnancy tests in bulk from Costco because it just felt like you kept hanging on to hope. I just knew the familiar. I was very familiar with asking again and hearing, “No,” and asking again and hearing, “No.” So, the shock of actually finding out that I was pregnant—and I was alone—of course, I just wept. Then, when my husband woke up, the first words out of his mouth when I told him were “Do you think the favor of God has lifted from our lives?”
Both of us—in that timespan—had seen so much fruit on the inside of our lives from the Lord saying, “No,” to my womb. Both of us had developed a reach for God that we didn’t have when life was working like we thought it should. Both of us had found a new conversation with God and a new way to engage with His Word when it felt like our life wasn’t working—that it actually felt like favor.
—His power is made perfect in our weakness. We had found a beautiful, engaging relationship with God when my womb was barren. So, when we found out that God had finally answered all these prayers, all of the sudden we thought, “What—the season we just left was actually amazing—because we found Him because He was there.”
Dennis: You actually grieved.
Sara: It was the strangest thing, and I imagine that—I haven’t, to this day, had anyone else in my shoes—not that there wouldn’t be anyone—but 13 years is a long time to walk through infertility—but I can imagine that I’m not alone in that. When you start to see the fruit of God in suffering then, truly—His Word tells us, “God is near to the brokenhearted.” He was so near to us that it actually felt like—“Will we be able to find Him when our hearts don’t feel so broken?”
Bob: You wound up conceiving not just one but a second biological child. How old are your bio-kids today?
Sara: My daughter is five months. So, we actually—
—in three years, we conceived three biological children. I did have a miscarriage. So, my biological son—Bo—is three. He is our family mascot. [Laughter]
Bob: So, in the last four years?
Sara: In the last four years, I’ve conceived three children—yes.
Bob: Has the favor of God left you?
Sara: It certainly hasn’t. I mean we all know; right? When I say that, that God’s goodness is—it just shows up in different ways, in different seasons—and it has been rich. We have six children. Barbara can attest—
Sara: —there is just a great refining that happens the more children you add to your—
Dennis: Oh, you think?! [Laughter] You think God’s done with you when He gives you six?
Sara: We are not sitting back eating bonbons. [Laughter]
Barbara: Well, I never went through infertility like you did, but we’ve been through some seasons of suffering in our lives, and I know what you are talking about when you say, “You sense the presence of God in a way when you’re in those really, really hard places”—
Barbara: —because we’ve been there. I’ve experienced that, and I know what that’s like.
And I understand what you mean—at a different level because of different experiences—but nonetheless, coming out—you do wonder, “Am I going to continue to connect with God?” To me, that was the thing that I remember feeling in several different situations that we’ve been through—“Am I going to miss hearing from Him as much as I did when we were in those hard times?”
Dennis: The Apostle Paul talked about a thorn—a thorn in his flesh that he entreated God—strong word—he pleaded with God to remove it—but Paul said that God told Him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” That’s an interesting kind of dichotomy—“My power is made perfect in weakness”—power displayed where people are broken—not doing well.
Paul goes on—“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
What Paul is saying there to us—through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—is what your book’s about—you’re going to find God in those weak moments more clearly than when you feel like you’re on the mountaintop.
Sara: That’s exactly right.
Bob: Yes; I think there have undoubtedly been listeners today resonating with this conversation who will want to get a copy of the book,—
—Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to Be Noticed. It’s written by our guest today, Sara Hagerty. We’ve got copies of her book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.
You can order from us online at FamilyLifeToday.com—or you can call to order at 1-800-358-6329. 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the website—if you’d like to order the book Unseen, by Sara Hagerty—FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also call to order at 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
We’re in the middle of a very busy season here at FamilyLife. We’ve got our Summit on Stepfamily Ministries coming up here in a few weeks. We are working on finishing The Art of Parenting® video series. Our Weekend to Remember getaways are in full swing. A lot going on—all of it centered on one thing, and that is—“Helping to effectively develop godly marriages and families who change the world one home at a time.”
All that we do at FamilyLife has that as its central mission. Our goal is to provide practical, biblical help and hope for marriages and families—day-in and day-out—through this radio program, through our resources—online—at our events. That’s what FamilyLife Today is all about.
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So, thanks to those of you who have already contributed, making today’s program possible. Now, we need to talk about tomorrow’s program and next week and the week beyond. If you can help with a donation today, we’d love to hear from you. It’s easy to donate online at FamilyLifeToday.com—
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Tomorrow, we’re going to continue the conversation about how we can be still and know that God is God and that He is with us. Sara Hagerty joins us again tomorrow. Hope you can be back with us again as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with help today from Justin Adams. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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