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Laborious Love

I sat in my carport feeling a bit miserable and a little sorry for myself. It was a beautiful December day and there I sat in my t-shirt, shorts and flip flops confused and grumpy.

My family had been dealing with Covid for almost a week and life was not fun at the moment. We have 5 kids and having them home for the holidays, getting sick one after another, was not the holiday season we had hoped for. And I was the one that had gotten sick first, on Christmas Eve!!

We hadn't seen our out of town family, who was in town, because of the sickness, and life felt miserable. On top of that, we had gotten a call from DSS asking us to take temporary placement of a 7 year-old that needed a safe place to live for a couple of weeks.

My misery was compounded knowing that this decision before us needed an answer and soon. This precious child of God was a child with down syndrome and I felt it was “too much” for us to take on at this particular time. The decision was mine and the weight of it felt heavy, almost unbearable. This would mean a new school, a new schedule, new responsibilities along with the obvious fact that life would certainly change adding a 6th child into the family.

We make these decisions as a family, but neither my wife or I had any real clarity as to what God wanted. Life is filled with decisions that change the course of lives, but this specific one, felt more life altering than most. A no, meant life would be back to “normal” shortly and getting back on a schedule would be more attainable! A yes meant a child would feel the love of Christ while he was with our family. There's no doubt this is what God has clearly called our family to. In the book of James God clearly calls us to the orphan and through many life experiences He has affirmed that call and yet it still felt unnatural. I was miserable, mostly because of how MY life would change.

I sat and read a biography on John Bunyan, a man that had spent 12 years in prison for preaching the gospel in England, and my "perspective" began to change!

This quote by John Bunyan spoke to me:

“By this scripture (2 Cor. 1:9) I was made to see that if I would ever suffer rightly, I must first pass a sentence of death upon everything that can be properly called a thing of this life, even to reckon myself, my wife, my children, my health, my enjoyment, and all, as dead to me, and myself as dead to them. The second was, to live upon God that is invisible, as Paul said in another place; the way not to faint, is to “look not at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

The answer clearly became yes. I wanted to die more to myself than ever before and I wanted to “suffer” well in this life. My heart settled on the fact that I wanted to make decisions that, simply put, would make me " look more forward to heaven".

I came in and told my family that we were going to take in this 7 year-old boy because it would make us look more forward to eternity with our Jesus. We realized we could be a bit uncomfortable in this life if that allowed us to magnify a Jesus that left his place in heaven to come down to this earth to die for us. I have found more and more comfort in the uncomfortable with each act of obedience to Him.

Laborious love encapsulates it best. To look at the things that are unseen is our goal, and sometimes it feels like death, but it never leads to death.

Oh the joy.

Life has been chaotic, but oh the joy we would have missed out on with the easier answer of no. Bubba (the 7 year olds nickname) is a part of our family. He loves each one of his siblings with one of the purest hearts I have ever seen. He loves to play cops and arrest each one of us and take us where he wants. He loves to wrestle and he loves to eat (much like his foster dad). His world was shaken and we have seen the effects of that, but the steadfast love of Jesus has given him a home through our family for the last week and a half.

Moments lead to movements. I pray that the moment we said yes created a movement in the lives of our family members, along with Bubba’s. I know it has in my heart. I do not know what his future holds, but I trust the sovereignty of God more with every step toward dependence on Him our family takes. He loves these children way more than we ever could, but oh the joy he adds to our lives by allowing us to experience it with each child that enters our home.

God is so kind to us. I pray that your life is marked by something remarkable, because the Jesus that changed you is more remarkable than we could ever imagine. One more child loved, is one less "foothold" for the enemy to sneak in and bring destruction. The ripple effect is part of the “unseen” Paul is talking about. Make decisions that don’t make sense to this world, it will make people want Jesus more. God is most satisfied in us, when we are most glorified in Him.

This experience has affirmed C.S Lewis’s quote: “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”

May we continue to look up and aim at heaven friend, life is so much sweeter when we think of ourselves less.”

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