In the past – I have often thought of the calling of God to be the hard part. The leap of faith. The stepping out of your comfort zone. Once you go forth in the calling of what He has for you, it all gets easier because you are walking where He wants you to, right? Maybe for some. But for us the last year following the call of God on our lives has been anything but easy.
You see when we felt called to step out of our comfort and start taking in kids from hard places, we knew it would be difficult. I felt God had revealed to me beforehand and reiterated to me that He didn’t call me to be comfortable and that this wouldn’t be easy. But walking through it – well it’s been messier and harder than even the revealing could have prepared me for.
I guess I had the idea – that there would be a clear purpose and plan in the hard places we were going to traverse. Yes it would be hard – but God would ultimately be walking alongside us revealing to us WHY it had to be so hard. Now as our first placement from Foster Care winds down I am finally starting to see WHY we had to go through what we went through, but as I walked along the dark places of the last months I felt I was screaming at the ceiling. I felt I was unheard, alone, and completely and utterly frightened at what I was finding.
Being a foster parent has taught me more about my sin and selfishness in 8 months than I probably learned in almost 30 years of my entire life. I have always been a “goody goody,” following the rules, terrified of getting in trouble. So naturally I considered myself a “good person.” I tried to love others, give to those in need, read my Bible, pray, and again I considered myself a “good Christian.” I know that Christianity isn’t just a check list of our good vs. bad, but still I felt justified in the role I was playing as a good Christian.
Enter a little girl who came in our lives and wrecked all our thoughts of being great parents, people, or Christians. We were faced with confronting our selfishness for our comfort, our lack of patience with a child we didn’t understand and who couldn’t communicate, and our fear that we were just barely surviving everyday. Worn, weary, and unable to handle an extra stress - we were then faced with some of the ugliest and hardest circumstances that we’ve walked through as a married couple.
And all I could do is ask WHY. Why when we were trying to do the calling of God were we faced with such hardship. WHY were we faced with sin? WHY were we asked to leave a church we loved? WHY were we asked to endure a sickly child? WHY did we have the worst health problems we’ve ever had? WHY were our family members sick? WHY did we face tragic family losses?
I was feeling very broken and God DID provide in many ways but it just didn’t feel like enough. A friend insisting on bringing a meal. A devotional. A message from the pastor at the new church we were attending. Small things, enough to help us keep going. But just that – enough, not more, not excess or abundance, enough to let us know He was there. He was providing. He was showing us love even though we felt unworthy.
One of the hardest callings we received in the midst of all of this was the call to leave our church of 5 years, Element Church. We knew the church was walking through some tough places and we didn’t want to be seen as “jumping ship.” We weren’t leaving because of the struggles at Element, instead through a hundred different ways and places – God asked us to leave and follow Him. From the pain and hurt and struggles – He was beginning to stoke a passion in our hearts. A passion that He was calling us to go elsewhere to pursue.
Tentative and unsure, we took one of the biggest things we had learned from our Element Church, and headed out to find where God was calling us. We had learned from our Element Family over the years – that we are called to BE the church. Not to attend it, but to be the church to the lives we come in contact with through love and care. God was stirring our hearts for a community of and for Foster Families and was doing this by telling us if we wanted to see this happen – we needed to BE it.
We landed at Baylife Church, where we knew the “Modern Orphan,” ministry was starting to try and reach out to love on those people involved in foster care and/or adoption. Baylife is a very large church in comparison to where we were at Element. And for the longest time it felt large and lonely. We were hurting, we were struggling, and we were no longer a part of an intimate loving community that knew us and could walk beside us.
But we didn’t let that completely discourage our hearts. As we purposefully pursued what we thought God was calling us to for Foster Families – we started to see a little more clearly through our fog. God was starting to open doors at Baylife and the passion in us was growing. Maybe the struggles and hurt still didn’t make sense but we were starting to have a purpose in them again.
Now as we approach the end of our very first placement, God has started to burn the rest of the fog away. He has teamed us with likeminded people who are passionate about making sure foster families are cared for – so they can in turn care for the orphans in their lives. And as we’ve moved forward into this ministry He placed in our path – He has been faithful. Suddenly, pieces that didn’t fit together are now seamlessly connected. We can see literal answers to prayers that we and others have been praying for months and years. He has shown Himself to be faithful.
The Calling wasn’t the end point – He didn’t just want us to do something for Him. He didn’t want us to just start taking kids into our home and that be the end of it. He wanted us to minister to the hearts of those caring for kids. He wanted us to see our sin and selfishness. He wanted us to grow and rely more deeply on Him. He wanted this calling to change us.
One thing we’ve learned is the Calling, or leap of faith isn’t the point. Once you take that first step it might not take you onto a wide easy road. It might take you on to a tricky narrow path where you are unsure of the next step. It might mean questions, and wrestling, and screaming at the ceiling some days. But rest assured if He has called you, He will be faithful. He may not give you much more than enough to get that next step, but He will give you enough for that.
When the fog has cleared what I see now is that if it had been easy, if we hadn’t struggled, we wouldn’t have the passion we do for caring for foster/adoptive families. We might not always have the same circumstances as other foster/adoptive families but we can now understand where they are coming from when they feel broken and weary. We can look at them and say, “I’ve felt the weight of my own sin bearing down on me as I started this journey.” We can pray for them in a more meaningful way, we can cook and clean from them, we can love them even knowing that they are struggling through a placement or even just the life circumstances they’ve been given. We’ve walked that road of doubt and confusion – and now we have the ability and passion to BE the church to those that are also walking through it.
As God has been faithful to start clearing our hearts and minds – I do not suffer the delusion it will be easy or perfect from here on out. I know there are miles of struggles ahead that I most like won’t understand while I’m going through them. But I know when I get to the other side – He will be faithful to reveal His purpose.
We had the chance to go back to our Element Family this past week and spend time worshipping with them. It felt surreal and yet so beautiful knowing what a huge role this loving church played in our journey. As we sang “How He loves Us,” at Element – I couldn’t help but think that through the regrets and trials of the last months – that He loves us, and draws us to Him in ABUNDANT grace.
“We are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes
If grace is an ocean, we're all sinking
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don't have time to maintain these regrets
when I think about the way
He loves us
Oh how He loves us”
– Jesus Culture