Today I took my four-year-old with me to visit a friend who does foster care. They (she and her husband) just had a newborn baby placed in their home, in addition to another infant already in their care, and their adopted daughter who has cerebral palsy. Not only this, but in just a couple of weeks they will be moving to a new house.
I am officially in awe of them. Not because they are these spiritual superheroes who are spouting off profound sermons to every person they meet. I’m in awe because their life is such a beautiful example of the kind of life Christ wants us to lead. They have accepted those who are not ‘their own’ into their home and lives. They are loving others who have no claim on them, just as Christ loved us. They have adopted a little girl into their family who was unwanted by the world’s standards, just as God has adopted us into His family. They continually give of themselves for the good of another (in this case several others). They display an obedience to living out a life that follows Jesus’ example of giving to others in self-sacrificial love. They persevere despite the difficulties, messiness, and complexities of the situation.
I’m not trying to toot a horn so that everyone will stand up and applaud them, possibly feeding into a sense of pride in self. I just want to call attention to the startling and poignant truths that can be seen in a family that fosters and/or adopts. God’s lessons are on display for anyone who will take the time to look and see.
I got to hold that precious baby girl who was unwanted by the very one who carried her in her womb. As I enjoyed cradling her, smelling that new baby smell, feeling her silky soft hair and skin, examining her tiny features, and watching all of her adorable little fidgets, I was dumbfounded by the fact that somebody would choose to disown her. A baby–an expression of sweetness and innocence; the possibility of all that is right in the world; a hope for the future; a new life that is in need of love and nurture.
As I held her close, I thought about the awesome role that a person can play in showing love to such a small, innocent creature. She can give nothing, except the joy of being in her presence. What she requires is love, touch, care, life-giving words. Are we really presented with the chance to build into another person’s life in such a simple, yet profound way?
Could I love someone else’s child like I love my own? Looking into that sweet face, I knew that I could. I wanted to kiss her and tell her that I love her. Not in a creepy, you’re-mine-forever kind of way, but because God can cause His love to overflow from our hearts to others. When that love comes from the unquenchable source of love itself, there need not be any barriers to expressing it to one of His beloved children. The greatest message I could share with this baby is to assure her that God loves her.
So my friend will go on with her unglamorous, yet profoundly important life of loving God’s little ones who just need someone to nurture them. I will go home inspired and convicted, yet called to something more–something beyond myself.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”