I am definitely an idealist.
I do realize that we live in a broken world, but I also believe sometimes things could be better with simple obedience to God’s word.
I am not naïve, but I have been protected from a lot of the ugly of this world because I had such Godly parents. I also practice being as reasonable as I can like Paul teaches in Philippians.
With that being said, reunification is, at times, difficult for me as a Christ follower to swallow. Don’t check out on me ……believing I’m someone who thinks he knows better than the “system.” Hang with me, as I want to explain where I have been, versus where I am now.
Values are different for a non-believer than they are for the believer. Good is different than Godly. Salvation is different than safe. So when I hear reunification, I don’t hear salvation and I don’t hear the glorification of Jesus. I hear “safe.” And this is not a negative thing, it is just a magnification of the difference between what the world says is valuable and what God’s word says is valuable. This has been one of the most difficult things for me, as a Christ-follower, to experience in foster care.
What I have come to realize, is that reunification is very different than reconciliation. Reunification simply means that biological parents are no longer actively participating in evil. Reconciliation, from a biblical standpoint, means that parents are actively pursuing a relationship with Christ and value the “economy” of Christ. Reunification means that all the boxes on the checklist have been checked to be a proficient parent. Reconciliation means that the “blank check” our life is, has been signed and we are open to doing whatever God has for us. The court system has put in place a list of things that someone must do to be whole yet Jesus said, “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. And on those two commands hang all the laws of the land.” I have had trouble navigating this. I have wrestled over the difference between these two words.
I have walked the tight rope between lament and anger during our foster care journey and I am sure I have fallen off on more than one occasion. Sin has a way of doing that, teasing the heart and mind into thinking things are too broken to be fixed, the pain is too great to endure, there are too many things that are wrong with the system and the cost is too much to press on. I have been there, my emotions ebb and flow out of that place. I have struggled.
Oh the power of the man that rests and hopes in who God is, rather than what the world says is good and even at times what I say is best.
The lightbulb came on in my heart when I sang the words to a song I had never heard before at a conference in Atlanta. “You’re bigger than I thought you were.” I processed, cried, and surrendered as I pictured foster child after foster child that had come and gone from our home. The magnification of the glory of God is concealed – it is hidden -- when I turn the focus to the hurt and the idealism in my mind.
I have cried and asked……. “God, how could this be what is best?!” “How could the Godly home that we have, not be better than what they are going back to?!” “God, why do you bless drug addicted parents with biological children and haven’t blessed me with a house full of biological children?”
The questions (valid questions at times) can persist for years on end and create anger instead of lament if I (we) constantly turn inward.
“You’re bigger than I thought you were.” The line echoed in my heart and mind, the picture of Abraham having Isaac on the altar preparing to sacrifice him became more real to me than ever. The connection became very clear, God wants ME.
God knows that my identity, at times, can be wrapped up in what we do, rather than who we are. And yet I hear him say, “ Jeff, you are my son, you are responsible for what I have put in front of you, not what you want in front of you.”
We all need to be reminded of God’s faithfulness at times, faithfulness that makes Him trustworthy. “His ways are higher than my ways, his thoughts are higher than my thoughts.” “I will rest in the father’s arms, leave the rest in the father’s arms.”
Oh the hope and peace that the unseen brings when it is the focus. I have to constantly preach to myself “Jeff, fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. Don’t you dare for a minute find your identity in foster care, you are not the Messiah for these kids. Don’t take the world into your hands.”
When doubts arise about situations and cases and the temptation to play a “righteous judge” echoes in your heart and head as “fair”, remember that God is bigger than we think he is.
The love I offer is finite, God’s love is infinite. I heard it said recently that the most spiritual thing about you is how you affect others. I see this in a whole new light! It’s no longer me simply impacting just a child, it’s how I am impacting the world.
God knows each hair on each one of these precious babies heads and loves them so much that he went to the cross for them. Please pray for me, that my focus never becomes the actions I do, but the focus always remains the ultimate action on Calvary (Jesus giving His life for us all). I will pray the same for you.