I have been wanting to write on this topic for awhile, and tonight I feel like I might have the words to say.
Tonight, I went to a worship and prayer service, and on the very front row were two little girls. I had seen them at church before, and I know they are children in the foster care system. They are about 3 and 4 years old, and they’ve been staying with a particular couple off and on for months. Those little girls were completely worshipping the Lord. No adult was helping them or telling them what to do, but they were looking up to the Lord, singing, arms raised. One of them was holding a baby with one arm, while the other was raised up in praise. For over an hour. It was a beautiful sight. One day, sooner or later, these girls will go back to their home, and they will take something new with them. Something more than clothes and education and a few fun memories of a stable family life. Even at this young age, especially at this young age, they can start their story with Jesus.
And I am so challenged. I know we don’t get to choose the ministry we commit our lives or a season of our lives to; I have learned that lesson, and want to make it clear that we don’t go out and help someone out of compulsion. We don’t just jump on board a good idea; we serve with the strength God provides and He provides a different kind of strength, a different avenue of obedience for each of us. But for many of us, I wonder if the Lord wants to heal a broken system (the family) using the Church, and I wonder if that is part of us showing the world what His Kingdom looks like, and lastly I wonder if possibly we haven’t even ASKED Him if there is another way He would want to build our families…
Many of us have this great hope, this beautiful picture, of our little sons and daughters, and we value our job of raising them in the admonition of the Lord. We want to raise them to be compassionate, generous, even sacrificial. We want to teach them how to hear the Lord and know Him well. Perhaps, and I do genuinely mean perhaps because I do not know, perhaps He is calling us to do this great job of raising children in the Lord, but not necessarily biological children. This is hard, but truth: We aren’t entitled to children. As bondservants of the Lord Jesus, our money, home, decisions, even our bodies, are for Him, not for us. So just as every other part of our life, we don’t have this innate right to ourselves and to our wants. Just because we have the ability to have a bunch of kids, I’m not sure that necessarily means that is what the Lord is calling us to do, for His glory and His ultimate purpose. (It might be though! For sure, it is between a couple and the Lord!) My point is that we must surrender it to Him; we must make sure we are not holding this picture perfect idea of “Our Family” an arms length away from Him. Honestly, learning this lesson is pretty vital for survival whether you “build your family outside the box” or not. Our kids will disappoint us sometimes and we will suffer deeply if we are not holding them loosely, knowing our God-given role of raising them as an act of obedience regardless of the outcome.
I personally get afraid of getting in over my head. I have done some radical and sacrificial things in my life, and I feel sometimes like I’ve suffered for it instead of being blessed. But I did what I believed God was saying to do, personally to me, and regardless of my suffering, I believe He was blessed and honored by my faith. He says we are blessed if we suffer for doing good. I don’t think in the end we will ever truly be sorry for giving, loving, and suffering when it is a direct consequence of personal obedience, even if in the flesh it looks like it wasn’t a good idea.
Fostering and adopting absolutely means opening your front door to suffering. But have you ever asked God to take you some place where you can help others in need? Have you ever felt the desire to serve somewhere difficult, knowing that is where people need Jesus the most? You probably thought it would be a short term thing, right? Maybe it will be. But maybe not! Maybe He is giving the Church the grace and wisdom to claim for Him the next generation, through the gentleness of a mother and the patient direction of a father who loves the Lord. It may be a little more than we were planning to offer Him, to be honest. But I am challenged to offer Him my heart, my parenting, my years of child-rearing…my picture perfect Family.