*This is a post from my old blog when we were in the process of foster care in June of 2017*
I remember standing in the pews of Liberty Baptist Church as a teenager, where I started to get it all, this Gospel-love that satisfies our deepest desires and hopes and dreams. I remember singing the lyrics to The Wonderful Cross.
Oh, the wonderful Cross!
Oh, the wonderful Cross!
Bids me come & die
And find that I may truly live.
I remember singing the words and meaning them, but not totally understanding. I can remember thinking about what it meant to lay down my life, to pick up my cross, to die -- so that I could live.
Isn't this a weird thing about our faith? That we are called to lay down our lives so that we can live? This goes against everything that our culture and society and social media tell us - that true life comes through dying.
I've been thinking a lot about adventure because a lot of people on my news feed are hiking or starting businesses or traveling to Europe. This is what I would consider adventure. Isn't it what you would consider adventure? Daring to do something that pushes your limits and makes you think bigger and changes your perspective?
But even the most amazing adventures - the jumping out of airplanes, the mission trips, the camps - are followed by a return to normal, to monotonous, to a job that we do or don't like, to a life we are unsure we want, to wearing ourselves out trying to make it. It's a reminder that even the best of the best adventure still doesn't satisfy.
So, I've been thinking: while those adventures are good and maybe even necessary, they aren't the real deal. They're close, they're on the right track, but they've missed the mark. Maybe True Adventure is in the laying it all down, in the giving it all up, in the surrender, in the dying.
There was no resurrection until there was a crucifixion.
I am about to embark on an adventure with my amazing husband, TJ. We are diving into the world of Foster Care. We have felt God press on our hearts with a certainty that we can't quite explain.
Most would not call our adventure an adventure, though. In fact, many have told us how the odds are stacked against us. Maybe they are not deliberately discouraging us from doing what God has called us to do. But we can hear it in their disapproving tone, in their story of foster-care failure, in their silence. They don't see Foster Care as True Adventure. They see Foster Care as a Life Sentence to Misery.
I am currently on a plane on my way back to Dallas. I started thinking about this because I just heard Maria Goff talk about intention on Jamie Ivey's podcast "The Happy Hour" (highly recommend). She said something that stuck with me: that when you're living your life, you have to wave a white flag and declare, "THIS IS HOW I WANT TO LIVE MY LIFE! AND I'M GOING TO DO IT!"
It becomes all too easy to let our jobs and friends and churches and expectations and schedules run us. When this happens, we lose the opportunity to lay down our lives daily and intentionally seek out ways to serve, to give, to love, to die.
Sounds weird, right? Because dying?! --- dying isn't what we want! Dying is sad, causes grief, breeds pain. But that's the crazy truth of the Gospel:
Through the rejection, suffering, and sorrow of the Cross, Jesus came back to life.
Through the sadness, grief, and pain of choosing death of our selves, we gain new life.
True Joy is only found in the True Adventure.
And True Adventure is found in giving it all up.
And when we give it all up, that's where we find Jesus.
Because He gave it all up. He already lived the True Adventure, and He wants us to know the same love, the same hope, the same joy, that He does.
But the problem is - this True Adventure - it doesn't just show up at our doorstep. God doesn't send a message to us in our mailboxes, telling us the next step. This Adventure that God takes us on - this journey - there's no instruction guide.
Of course, I want to wait on God, to be sure that this is what He wants, but constantly waiting for a huge sign in the sky telling me what to do next is a little cray-cray. Yes, God wants us to trust Him, to pray for Him to move, but I don't think that should be apart from our actions. He wants us to move with Him, to live life with intention, to say, "I'm going to live my life THIS WAY," and then -- ACTUALLY DO IT.
I have ideas about what I want my life to be: I want to show others Jesus, I want to be generous, I want to be kind, loving, and hospitable, I want to be a good neighbor and friend, I want to mother the motherless and help the least of these. It's not that I have totally neglected these desires; some of these come out in my teaching or in our youth ministry or in my friendships or family relationships. But I've never intentionally decided: This is how I want my life to be. And this is how I'm going to do it.
Because surrender, dying, sacrifice - this stuff is hard. But, as Ann Voskamp says in The Broken Way, "spending yourself is how you multiply joy." So the way to true joy is through sacrifice. The way to abundance is giving it all away - time, money, love. It's backwards and it's hard, but it's what Jesus said too: "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." (John 12:25)
When we take up our cross and follow Christ, He gives us "life abundant." (John 10:10)
And so this is why I consider Foster Care part of our True Adventure. God has called us to "care for the widow and the orphan," and as people have pointed out to us, it ain't gon be easy.
BUT it's going to be worth it. And so...
-- we choose to open our home
so that little ones with no home
can experience the love, hope, and joy
of the Savior who left His home for us.
Lastly, an excerpt from Jeremiah 22 that really opened up my eyes to what God cares about:
13 “Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness, his upper rooms by injustice, making his own people work for nothing, not paying them for their labor.
14 He says, ‘I will build myself a great palace with spacious upper rooms.’ So he makes large windows in it, panels it with cedar and decorates it in red.
15 “Does it make you a king to have more and more cedar? Did not your father have food and drink? He did what was right and just, so all went well with him.
16 He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the Lord.
17 “But your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.”