January 27, 2016
“You always know the right thing to do.
The hard part is doing it.”
- General Norman Schwarzkopf
You regularly wear a black t-shirt that boldly proclaims, “I’ve done things that make me lose sleep at night, so that you can sleep at night.” It’s true: While you were deployed, you saw and experienced horrors that most civilians cannot imagine, and now you proudly wear the t-shirt – and the tattoos - to prove it. You were a soldier, willing to sacrifice your life and fight courageously for what you believe in. For the citizens who live in freedom, who are able to sleep at night, you are a hero!
But then, when you returned home after your tour of duty, scarred and forever changed, you faced the worst possible scenario imaginable. A horror far worse than war. Harsher, even, than combat. In one tragic, unthinkable moment, tragedy struck, and your child was left fighting for his life. It was almost more than you could possibly bear! After hours of uncertainty, he survived his near-fatal injuries, and his life was miraculously spared. Your nightmares, unfortunately, continue to haunt.
And now, finally, your child is coming home! It is the day you’ve been waiting for and praying about for six long months. In your excitement, however, be aware that this will be your most critical battle yet. That the lives and the future of your children are at stake. You are the one they will need. The one who will be responsible for their safety and protection and security. The one who will lead them and set an example for them. Now, more than ever before, it is vital that you be all you can be.
You now have an assignment that is classified priority. You must be willing to sacrifice your life and fight courageously, not for your country this time, but for those you love most. You have new mission going forward, one of utmost importance: Operation Enduring Family.
Here are the requirements for this mission, this special op that God has specifically called you to:
This mission requires a spotless record. Wait . . . what?! You know you have committed violations. The guilt of yesterday is a dark shadow on your heart. The enemy’s strategy is to continually accuse you of your offenses, burdening you with reminders of the transgressions you have committed against the duty and honor you had promised to uphold. But know this . . . You can cease striving, resting in His unfailing promise to freely pardon. Your past can be fully forgiven. At the foot of the cross, where Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for your freedom, your record is wiped clean. You can stand before Him, serving Him unashamed.1 Guiltless.
This mission requires courage. Wait . . . what?! How is it possible to be brave when being entrusted with the lives of innocent children? Who can stand fearless under such an immense responsibility? Operation Enduring Family is an especially daunting mission because there are social workers and community care coordinators who are watching your every move. And because you have seen, first hand, how instantly and unexpectedly a landmine can explode, right in the middle of your family.
Do not allow fear, the fear that is ever present, to enter your heart. In those dark and sleepless nights when insomnia has once again chased sleep far from you, be strong and courageous. Remember that the God who has given unwavering valor to countless warriors throughout the centuries is the same God who will also give it to you. He is the same God who promises to be with you wherever you go.2
He was right there with you, protecting you during those years in the scorching heat on the other side of the world. He was with you, sustaining you during those terrifying days when your son was in the hospital with life-threatening injuries. He has been with you, comforting you during these long months when he has been in foster care, far from your arms that long to hold him. And He will be with you when your son returns home to you, as you adjust to the new regimen and routine and responsibilities. He goes before you, guiding your footsteps when the way is difficult and confusing and unknown. Wherever this mission takes you, whatever impossible demands that you face, you can be courageous, knowing that you will never, not for one minute, be alone.
This mission requires perseverance. Sometimes a foster parent is called a “hero.” Foster parents are like the Reserves, the rescue team ready at a moment’s notice to assist during an emergency situation. Sort of like Operation Intensive Healing. However, a foster parent’s role is, by definition, temporary. Difficult and exhausting and never at convenient times, but still, temporary. You, his parents, have the much more difficult task of rebuilding a broken family. Of healing deep wounds. Of ensuring that your family remains stable for the long term, regardless of the obstacles and hardships. And that requires a tremendous amount of perseverance.
Your son’s scars may eventually fade and there may come a day when he is no longer dependent upon medical equipment and specialists and therapists. But the emotional scars, the pain and fear left in the aftermath of the trauma he experienced, may not heal quite as easily. His unpredictable behavior and unexpected outbursts may be confusing. His progress may seem slow. He will require patience and tenderness and understanding. Again and again and again.3
This mission requires faith. Make no mistake. When you accept this assignment, it will be dangerous. You have an enemy, a dark, powerful, violent terrorist who poses an imminent threat to you and your family. His goal is to steal, kill and destroy.4 He wants you to admit defeat. Hold your position. You must never surrender! Defend against him at every cost! Use every weapon in your arsenal in order to stand against his attacks.5
Remember, though, that God is with you. He is braver and stronger than you, more powerful, even than your fiercest enemy.6 Trust Him to strengthen you in the very moment you need it.7 When you feel like giving up, have faith that He will give you the ability to persevere for one more day. Not only will He give you strength, He is your strength.8 He is the One who will fight for you.9
For Operation Enduring Family, victory is sure. With faith in the One who promises victory, you and your family will be strong and will be able to withstand any assaults. But even more importantly, as you pass along your strong faith to your children, as they see that your faithful God strengthens and sustains you, you are passing along a godly heritage. A legacy that will endure, not only for this lifetime, but for the next generation, and even for eternity.
Choose to believe. Have faith in the One who holds you and your family in His hands. Find the forgiveness and courage and strength and perseverance that only He can provide. Then you can say, along with David, one of the mightiest warriors in all of history, “I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.” (Psalm 3:5)
Trust Him. He is, after all, the true Hero.
1. If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve You. – Psalm 130:3-4
2. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9
3. This is my prayer for you: That God would fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience. – Colossians 1:9-14
4. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [Jesus] have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10
5. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. – Ephesians 6:11
6. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; My savior, thou dost save me from violence. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; and I am saved from my enemies. – 2 Samuel 22:2-4
7. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. – Isaiah 41:1
8. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. – Psalm 46:1
9. For the Lord your God is the One who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” - Deuteronomy 20:4