God calls each one of us to love sacrificially (Eph 5:2). Loving this way is hard. In our home, this call meant becoming foster parents. Being a foster parent is not easy or simple, and sometimes it is not even fulfilling (as you and I are tempted to define it). It is hard, it is costly, and it is often thankless, but we do it nonetheless. Here are three reasons why we, as a couple and now as a family, choose to do what is hard.
My wife and I were sitting on our couch talking about the upcoming holiday season, and I asked her what she wanted for Christmas. Needing some time to think, she asked me what was on my own wish list.
I started thinking of when I was a kid and Christmas would be on its way. My sisters and I would get so excited to get each other presents. We loved giving gifts to one another and surprising each other with a very specific present. My mom homeschooled us and my dad was a soybean farmer for most of my childhood, so we similarly got so excited at the idea of treating mom and dad with what little money we had.
We all face situations that look as though they’ll never change. It’s easy to get discouraged and accept that it’s never going to work out. But God says, “I will turn things around for my people” (Zephaniah 3:9). He’s a turnaround God. He turns Red Seas into dry pathways, He turns five loaves and two fish into dinner for thousands, and He turns skin filled with leprosy into skin as clear as a baby’s. When thoughts tell you, “Your situation is permanent. You’ll never get out of this problem,” get ready.
It’s like a drug for some of us. A reachable high that never fails to satisfy, while we rock to our theme song by Janet Jackson.
If the world isn’t spinning in our all-knowing, ever-controlling hands, it would spin out of control into the dark recesses of the Universe – or so we think. The object of our control needs our intervention. We’re only being helpful, and putting our great ideas to good use, right?
There are times when our controlling nature takes a hit and loses the game.
I’m not sure I fully understand the appeal of slot machines. Drop a couple of quarters into the slot, pull the lever, and see what happens. Repeat. Do it again and again. If I were to gamble (which I’m not recommending), I would gravitate toward the games that at least have some skill involved, like blackjack or poker, rather than a game that relies completely on chance. And yet, there is a certain appeal, I guess, toward spending money with the hope that there might indeed be a big payoff or at least some return for our “investment.”
“The forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”
Could there be a sweeter word in any language than that word “forgiveness,” when it sounds in a guilty sinner’s ear, like the silver notes of jubilee to the captive Israelite? Blessed, forever blessed be that dear star of pardon which shines into the condemned cell, and gives the perishing a gleam of hope amid the midnight of despair! Can it be possible that sin, such sin as mine, can be forgiven, forgiven altogether, and forever?
You’ve probably heard the saying “I’m not all that I want to be, but thank God I’m not what I used to be.” If you can say that today, that means you’re on the road to progress. The truth is that all of our lives are under construction, and sometimes the road to progress is messy and slow. When you’re tempted to get discouraged, remember what the apostle Paul says: “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). You’re a work in progress. You will get to the completion phases, because God is going to fulfill His promises to you.
I was out running errands one Saturday. City traffic was a little wonky, but to be expected, especially since I was near the mall and other shopping centers. Oh yes, and don’t forget to factor in construction on every major street and highway in the city.
Anyhoo, I was driving in the right lane, ready to turn at the next light, when I realized that everyone was making their way into the left lane. As I continued on, I noticed that an officer had someone pulled over. Of course, I needed to make my way over, so I put on my signal, in hopes that someone would slow down enough to give me space.
Rejection—it’s so personal. It sticks to our souls. It does not respond to reason, and is not easily dislodged from our hearts. We can try to talk ourselves out of the indictment that comes with it, but the words we use are mostly ineffective, reinforcing our shame.
I have experienced all sorts of rejection. I still feel the sting of certain family members not ever returning my phone calls and good friendships that are no more. I have heard things like, “you are not a good fit for our small group” or “since you homeschool, we didn’t think you’d fit in with us.” These words pierce. There is a finality about them. They do not leave room for further conversations.
I was having coffee with one of the women I’ve been discipling last month. This is her first year in Kansas City, and in the few short months she’s been here, her growth has been exponential. The opportunity to be discipled, combined with an increased love for learning and heightened capacity to understand theological truth and apply it to her spiritual walk has made her year unforgettable.
Seeing such rapid and significant growth has been fascinating. The Bible uses cultivation language to talk about the lives of believers and how they interact with teachers, disciplers, and others who have influence in their lives – some water, some plant seeds, and some get to witness the harvest.