March 23, 2015
Are We Insane? - Part 1
Honestly?! Are you insane? Why would you do such a thing?
The questions sting and they momentarily dampen my enthusiasm, but they are not altogether unexpected. Not everyone is a huge fan of me and my family and our long-term ministry as foster parents. It does seem insane. For those who do not have the passion to provide a safe and loving home for a vulnerable child, it does defy comprehension. What can I say?
My husband and I have been thinking and praying about taking another “placement” for a few months, and in our human perspective of things, we thought that an elementary-aged child would fit perfectly into our family. However, when we received “the call” and heard the story of the precious newborn in need of a temporary family, we knew almost immediately that we would say yes. That she was the one whom the Lord was asking us to love.
We were excited for her arrival. We enjoyed assembling the crib and getting the baby clothes out of the storage containers. We didn’t mind at all rearranging our schedule so that we could drive to the hospital to meet her. And now that she is home with us, we just keep passing her back and forth between us. We love her so much that we can barely put her down.
However, there are those, especially those who are closest to us, whom we love and respect the most, who simply cannot understand why we would agree to take another child. And a baby, no less! Is it because we are too old? Perhaps compared to our peers we are. Our oldest is grown, and our teenagers are starting to envision their independence in the not-too-distant future. My husband is counting down the years until he can finally retire. And I really don’t like to have my sleep interrupted. We should be well beyond such things as middle of the night feedings, securing car seats into the back of our vehicle, packing up diaper bags, and pushing strollers.
But when the Lord asks you to do something, what should you say, No thanks? Clearly you chose the wrong family for this child? We are too old for this? You should be asking someone younger, with more energy and stamina and years?
We just don’t see that in Scripture at all. We see stories of God’s blessing couples of all ages with the gift of a child. Abraham and Sarah were in their 90’s when they became parents to their beloved Isaac. To them, this child was a beautiful gift, a long-awaited promise, an unbelievable blessing.1
Zacharaias and Elizabeth were both “very old” when they became parents to John the Baptist. My heart echoes Elizabeth’s joy-filled response to the precious life that had been entrusted to her. “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days He has shown His favor.”2
And Job, after he lost his ten grown-up children in a terrible, shocking tragedy, later became the father of ten more children! What does God’s Word say about this? Not, he is too old for this. Not, he must be insane. But “the Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.”3 Yes, blessed!
Honestly? Are we insane? Why would we do such a thing? Because like Abraham and Elizabeth and Job, we believe that children – biological children, adopted children, foster children - are a blessing and a gift, even for, or maybe especially for, people who are no longer young. We say with Job that the Lord has blessed the latter part of our life more than the former part.
Perhaps those beloved friends and family members truly desire to protect us from the stress and added responsibilities that this foster placement is sure to bring. Welcoming a child, even a healthy typically-developing child, into one’s family can be a monumental undertaking. In addition to the adjustment to a baby who needs feeding and changing and dressing and soothing and bathing, a foster baby has family visits and court hearings and team meetings and social workers and evaluations and paperwork. And all of those things take time and energy and attention from our other children.
From other people’s perspective, this may seem like a heavy, unnecessary burden. A long and difficult road. And ultimately, if the birth family is restored, a certain path to heartbreak and loss. In our moments of doubt and fear and honest introspection, we know that they are right. This is going to be extremely difficult. And we know from experience that we are weak. Our best intentions sometimes fail. We know that we will become weary and emotionally strained. We expect that the day will come when the loss of this child will seem more than we can possibly bear.
However, when the Lord asks you to do something, what should you say, No thanks? Clearly you chose the wrong family for this child? This is too hard? You should be asking someone with more faith and courage and sense of adventure?
We just don’t see that in Scripture at all. We find, instead, God’s command to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”4
We choose to trust Him when He assures us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”5
We do look at the daunting task of caring for this child, and we wonder how on earth we, with all of our weaknesses and limitations and imperfections, can possibly do it? And then we remember one of the greatest promises in all of God’s Word: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”6
Honestly? Welcoming a foster baby into our lives may seem insane. Following the Lord in the path of obedience often does. Why would we do such a thing? Because we know this fatherless child has a special place in the heart of our Heavenly Father. He promises to rescue this sweet thing, so when He invites us to join Him in such important work, it is an honor and a joy. Because it such a privilege to witness Him using ordinary people like us to accomplish extraordinary things.
Obeying God? Living in the center of His will? Playing a small role in the amazing story that He has written for this child’s life? Why on earth would we want to miss out on that? To not “do such a thing?” Now that would be insane!
1. Genesis 17:15-21
2. Luke 1:5-25
3. Job 1:2, 13 and 18; Job 42:12-13
4. Joshua 1:9
5. 2 Corinthians 12:9
6. Matthew 19:26