Several months ago the Lord brought to me something I had specifically told him I would not like to be called to, ever. I didn’t have time in my life for it, I didn’t have a heart for it and frankly, I didn’t really understand what difference it would make. Despite all that, God brought into my sphere of awareness an orphaned inner city 12 year old and reminded me that to whom much has been given, much will be asked.
Although we decided after much consternation, prayer and tears that we could not adopt this boy, at least right now, we knew we could provide support for the child (i.e. I am a licensed elementary and middle and high school special education teacher). So despite my jam packed schedule speaking, working, grad school and being mom and wife, I had a choice. I could obey the Spirit’s prompting and commit to helping this orphan or I could hope someone else would do something, move on with my life and pretend I had never found out about him. I prayed and hoped for the latter but (shocker), God had other plans.
Over the course of several weeks God answered all my very reasonable and logical oppositions about helping this boy. First of all there was the fact that I have never understood how adopting one child really “helps”. There are hundreds of inner city orphans waiting to be adopted (www.heartgallerywi.org). Supporting or even adopting one child does not break the cycle of these kids going into foster care and it certainly doesn’t help all those kids or the root of the foster crisis; it helps ONE child. What good is that? To that question God gave me this thought: What if one of your children didn’t have you or your husband and needed help? Would “just one child” matter then? Touché. But God, what about how busy I already am? I have enough guilt about time I don’t spend with my own kids, with my husband, with extended family and Lord I am such a poor excuse for a friend the way it is. Don’t even get me started on my messy house, the books on my shelf I want to read and trying to exercise once in a while! I laid out my best arguments so God would know why it would not make any sense to get involved with this child, but there was one problem. While I was arguing, praying and telling God no, He was breaking my heart. The alternative, despite my best reasoning was that if I did nothing this child might potentially continue to remain a ward of the state, in an institution or at best in a group home where he didn’t have anyone to advocate for him, love him or worst of all, teach him about how much God loves him. At the end of the day I began to realize that I had to be obedient. Not because I wanted to, but because the alternative became utterly unacceptable.
Tutoring and befriending an inner city orphan the last three months has given me heart palpations, stomach upset and headaches. Every turn has been difficult, painful and confusing. But whenever God leads us blindly thru the wilderness where we do not know what the end will look like, how long it will take to get there and that we only get to move when and where He directs us, He teaches us some things…
1. Love never leaves anyone the same. Visiting this boy two or three times a week this summer has changed him. But even more so I think, it has changed us.
2. God wants our hearts to break for what breaks His. If we are listening and willing, He can generate empathy and compassion in areas we thought we cared less about.
3. I have much. Much education, much resources, much love and much in the way of amazing children and an amazing and supportive husband. If I live this life with all that “much” to the joy and pleasure of only me and my family, I am not a follower of Jesus Christ. Period.
4. Sometimes, those who have a valid excuse to be miserable, hopeless and discontent are the happiest, most grateful, hope-filled people of all.
5. I almost never like or want to obey doing the things God calls me to. I am learning that if I call myself a Christian however, what I like or don’t like doesn’t really matter. Awesome (written in sarcasm font).
6. Obedience to what God calls us to always means loving in a greater capacity. Love is time consuming, it is a choice and takes discipline and every once in a while, it feels good. As I heard last Sunday, love is very little emotion and a whole lot of devotion.
7. Every new venture I take with this young man makes me so scared I want to throw up.
8. Nausea makes one rely VERY heavily on God.
9. When we follow God not only do we not know the ending of the adventure He is taking us on, we do not need to know the ending. Something else I hate, but have learned to be okay with.
“Dear God, thank you for my new buddy. Thank you for bringing him into our lives and that because of that we are all more sensitive, more aware and more vulnerable to something that means a whole lot to you according to your Word. Thank you for teaching us that obedience is never easy, never comfortable and rarely predictable. Thank you for showing us a world that we never knew existed, didn’t care about and deep down thought was someone else’s problem. God I have no idea why this boy, at this time and why you let us be a part of his life. But thank you. I am forever changed. In Your Name, Amen.”