Last week I wrote about the difficulty of having children who are part of your family but aren’t your children. Today’s post is a continuation of that thought.
God often challenges my thinking, taking me on thought exercises to grow my faith. He’ll take an area I’m not comfortable surrendering and will ask me to let go. God knows exactly how I operate and that I don’t separate thought from action. If I can come to terms with something internally, I know I can carry it out externally too. My worst case scenarios don’t always play out, but I’m challenged to come to the point where I’d be okay if they did.
For example, earlier in my marriage I was particularly worried about finances. At that time, we were looking at career and ministry choices that couldn’t guarantee us any financial security. In fact, it looked like a net loss. I was actually okayish with serving God anyway, but I wasn’t so sure I could give up everything and follow God. If following God meant going bankrupt and living under a bridge, could I do it? If it meant struggling for basic provisions for my children, could I do it? Could I still be obedient to God if it caused my family to suffer? Even if living for God meant suffering, misery, or death without a single silver lining for the rest of my life, could I plant one foot in front of the other and walk towards that future? I wrestled with those worst case scenarios and my willingness to risk it all for the Lord if asked. I had to reach the point where I could examine my heart and find that it is well with my soul. I haven’t been led to give away all my possessions and wander through the desert, but I need to know that my faith would take me there if that’s what the Lord required of me.
This week, the Lord challenged me again with what I was willing to give up if He asked. For years, I’ve wanted to adopt. Even before my son was born, my heart yearned for adoption like most people yearn for biological children. I knew the ache that women describe when they feel a calling to motherhood but struggle with infertility; I felt that way about adoption. It’s that deep seated fire that must be God-breathed because it won’t fan out and it won’t be boxed in.
Christians talk about how God will give you the desires of your heart as long as it aligns with God’s heart, and surely children would qualify as something God can get behind. Maybe you’ll have to wait years and years like Abraham and Sarah, Zacharias and Elizabeth, but God is faithful. We’re told to wait patiently on the Lord, but eventually, we will be answered. I held onto the hope that God will honor the deepest desires of my heart and allow for children to officially become part of our family through foster to adopt, private adoption, or even naturally, although I’m not sure that would satisfy the calling I’ve felt on my heart.
Then God posed a faith growing question and asked me if I could let my desire for a permanent family go and still be okay.
In the back of my mind, I’ve been comforted by the thought that while it’s painful to keep signing up for temporary placements we’ll end up saying goodbye to, one day God will lead us to an available child that needs a family. It’s easier to endure some painful experiences if there is a light at the end of the tunnel or something to hold out hope for, so I deal with the temporary nature of foster care by telling myself that this isn’t it but some day it will be.
The Lord was asking me to consider that maybe it will all be temporary. My burn for more children may never come to fruition. Can I be okay if for the rest of my life, I have a revolving door of children that I will love until it hurts and then let go of? Children I will cry and pray over, whose faces will never appear in my photos, and futures I may never even hear about once they leave. Can I fight my own nature to cling tight to what I have and resist change? Can I die to self and be satisfied each day with just the present, laying down any thoughts of the future? Can I handle the repeated loss knowing that there will never be anything permanent?
Those are challenging questions, especially when I desire to disciple a child and help guide them in their faith throughout the course of their lifetime. A parent doesn’t secure their child’s salvation, but it’s certainly easier or harder to develop your walk with God depending on your environment. There is a lot to let go of when you’re working with a short trajectory. There are long-term hopes and dreams, and you suddenly get pared down to the here and now. People don’t normally live consciously aware that there’s no guarantee of tomorrow. Fully living in the present requires a certain amount of counter-cultural thinking.
I don’t know what God’s plans are, and He might decide to give us more children some day. What I need to grapple with is whether or not I’d be okay if He didn’t. I need to know that I can still be obedient even if it doesn’t satisfy the desire of my heart.