“When you welcome one of these children because of me, you welcome me.” Matthew 18:5
Welcoming Jesus. This is the way I’d like to spend my life.
What a beautiful idea, that when we welcome a child, we actually welcome Jesus! This, my friends, is foster care.
I remember when God whispered His call into our spirits regarding re-entering the world of foster care. After having adopted our beautiful second child through Alameda County in 2008 following years of heart-breaking infertility, we had let our license expire.
But God was beckoning once again, awakening our hearts to His for the most vulnerable among us. It was February of 2013 and we had just been through a heart-wrenching season in our pastoral ministry. At the end of our rope, we had stolen away to Half Moon Bay to seek God’s face, to hear from Him, to come away from the chaos of daily life and ministry to once again get in tune with His heart.
It was quite a surprise when I sensed a call from the Lord back into foster care. In fact, when God spoke to me about this, I literally retorted, “Well, if that’s the case, you are going to have to tell Doug (my husband) the same thing.” As you can tell, I am kind of into “entering the throne room of grace with boldness.” Thirty minutes later, Doug said out loud what God had told me only minutes before: “I think we need to go through the process to be re-licensed as foster parents.” Wow.
When God speaks, it is so exciting and so clear, and everything seems to make sense. All is bright and true and everything seems possible.
I love what the author Robert Morris says in The Blessed Life about what happens when God invites us into a faith adventure. This has been my experience:
Phase one: Hearing from God.
Phase two: Excitement.
Phase three: Fear — this is crazy!
Phase four: Logic — reasons why I can’t do it.
Phase five: Doubt — did I really hear God’s voice?
Phase six: Faith to act.
It is always incredible to me how clearly I can hear from God and yet how quickly I can move to fear and logic. How many times have I gotten stuck in phase four, talking myself out of what I was so sure that God had told me to do, which then leads to five, questioning that I ever really heard Him in the first place. I don’t think I am alone in experiencing this.
Jason Johnson said it well at a past Foster the City event when he stated, “We are good at talking ourselves out of hard things.” Yet we should never question in the dark what God has told us in the light.
Be assured that the darkness comes. The enemy gets ticked, and between his lies and just the sheer difficulty of taking the path of faith, it is easy for me and for all of us to derail what God has so clearly put in motion. God invites us into His beautiful plans all the time, but how often do we opt out?
I recall that as we moved into Step 6, the prospect of welcoming more children into our family, be it for a season or forever, felt like a big adventure. I was filled with hope and fear, but mostly excitement.
It’s normal to experience an idealistic phase that happens in most every love relationship. You know the feeling, where anything seems possible because of love. The state that makes you walk down an aisle and promise to devote your life to someone forever — the fairytale feelings that wash over you when you decide to start a family or take steps of faith toward a life long dream.
I think God put that idealism in us, that gorgeous hope. It is written so deep within us, this idea that we can make a difference, that we can give and receive great love, that we can change the world. This idealism is what propels us forward and makes us commit to audacious dreams.
Foster Care has been harder than I could have ever imagined, and also more deeply beautiful. I knew that, in many ways, we were walking straight into pain. I had committed to giving it my whole heart no matter what, and whenever you give your heart away, you open it up to both great joy and great sorrow. It is the way of love, and it is worth it.