The last time I was here, Christmas was around the corner, a bitter cold had settled in, school was almost out and then came that late night phone call. We know nothing about this baby, we know you're an open home, qualified and certified. Will you take this baby knowing nothing? Qualified and certified on paper but no part of me knows how to do this hard thing.
A yes offered up trusting in His character so certain and sovereign. He knows all and sees all. He knows this little babe desperate to live and he knows and sees a family waiting in the unknown of what their yes actually gets them into. Because we trust Him and we cling to promises like we never have, but just like anyone who steps off a plane in Asia, Africa, Tulsa; to bring her home, to be the family she doesn't have, you don't know what's on the other side of that yes. You don't know how long it will last or the cost that you can't possibly count.
I've heard the question so many times, just how exactly does it work? How does foster care work? Do you get to pick your child? Do you hear their story first, do details come with the heart ache?
It's nothing glamorous in fact it's overwhelming and gut wrenching. It's a phone call while you're unloading groceries, making dinner, running carpool. Usually the age, gender, possibly a name followed by a few sentences. A life that easily fits on a post-it note because much if not everything is unknown. You make your decision of yes or no and give your answer, then within hours or days that child is in your home, or they're not. Then life resumes without a pause. After time one child leaves your care and as soon as you're ready, that phone rings and it doesn't stop. A one year old removed from a drug infested house a county away, twin baby girls picked up for abuse a few hours away, a young teen mama and her newborn need a safe place. The need is so vast where do we begin? Lord, give me blueprints like Noah because the rains coming will swallow me whole if I don't know my best yes and my no isn't gripped in peace and confidence of my capacity, our capacity. Because with every phone call we say no to, she waits and she sits longer in that place of upheaval and a rug yanked out from under innocence so fast their little hearts struggle to keep up with the new commanded processing speed. And they close shelters saying the problem is better when all the while those numbers keep soaring, abuse and neglect on the rise and yet today I still said no.
So go to sleep with that, settled into my comfortable bed, clean sheets and a pantry full of food. Those babies upstairs all safely tucked in, night lights and stuffed animals secure them. A calendar tomorrow I laugh to think is actually busy when really, it's nothing compared to this pace of violence, abandonment, removal, and displacement trumping anything I think is oh so busy and crazy. She leaves with nothing, maybe a few things in a trash bag and waits for the other end of the phone to say yes even though she comes with great sacrifice, challenge, and pain.
And so you wrestle with that yes, what's my yes and Jesus help me know it clearly and allow me to be unwavering in commitment when the rains do come, because they're coming on all sides. The fight and the roller coaster of this dark reality. Give me specifically the very thing You are asking of me and when we do say yes, that yes is the bare minimum of what we can hardly handle, pour out Your grace because it's needed more than ever.
So that placement acceptance to bring in a child is given like a free fall off a cliff into realms I don't know, don't want to know about, and can't hardly stomach to think about. I like it comfortable. I like my head in the clouds, I like caught up in me, I like my systems untouched and my iCal color coded into rhythms and complete order. I don't miss the pull on my heart in the lull of the night when I think about what she came from or where she may return, or the siblings before who didn't survive the boyfriend who couldn't stand the inconvenience of noise and crying. The stakes are high and the value of these precious lives can't stand to have anything but relentless fight for their highest and best.
Trusting that with every no that lead us to her yes, the Father knew and continues to know the path bringing us to her hospital bassinet and equally parallel drawing us to Himself.
It's so simple, You tell me, she needs to know she's valuable, that her cries are heard, that she's worth protecting and fighting for. And then you choose to love her and love her deep.
In the background the television chirps, tax payers money and supreme court time spent on athletes to determine whether or not they're doping, deflating footballs for man's praise and a golden statue that says they're supreme for some performance. Million dollar mansions on multiple states and continents. Red carpets with perfection praised and mishaps ridiculed, the famous hand stitched dress goes for the same price some broken mama somewhere tried to sell her baby for just so she can get high. While the least of these wait and suffer in a silence so dark I can't fathom the sounds and images they see daily. While mamas leave hospitals empty handed and where is she when her milk comes in but she's failed so many times her chances are gone. Someone please tell me why it even becomes a topic of conversation, a headline story of whether or not his bat was loaded and did he receive bribes from a collegiate booster because right now I know she was rescued but her mama slips back into the devil's grip and on this couch I sit and I can't hardly put words together. What does my no mean if I give it here? Is my yes the thing You are asking me today?
Jesus come swift and speak clearly because the need suffocates and the darkness doesn't end.
Come in close and say what she needs and what You need us to be. Be in this conversation and make Your mighty mark on this paper work. Just tell me what to do, please.
So that washing machine spins and I take in that subtle, familiar scent. I hold this little life and watch her clothes spin around and I fight back tears, the weeping that awaits every day. I can't do this, we can't do this. I'm not strong enough, wise enough, in tune enough. I can't juggle this load of being this strong man's helpmate, their mama present to know she scored a goal left footed instead of right, and notice her reading score went up a point. Don't forget the piles of laundry not going anywhere, a house needing cleaning, and the beautiful gift of each day. And make decisions for this little one that will affect the rest of her life. Decipher what's immediate, what's most important, what's the highest need right now.
Wait for the whisper of hope and don't forget the grace that awaits because it's only by His grace that we are, any of us. Grab hold and cling to garments of praise and don't lose sight of His face, not even for a moment. Jesus say it to me over and over again that the only thread that keeps me from losing the fight of overwhelming realization of her reality is Your mighty vine that reaches deep into our hearts and breathes life in when we can't take a breath. Speak the words to my mind and vision into my heart so that when my mouth opens it's only your will. Quiet my flesh and silence the justice turned angry when I hear her mama's story and every story before and after this one. When their choices devour the innocent and lay out a welcome mat for the horrifically unimaginable, remind me Lord of the grief my sin causes You. Remind me how thousands of years ago she stood in the city courtyard surrounded by the crowd baring stones in their hands, ready to hand her the punishment she deserved. Remind me how Your Son walked onto the scene with the challenge to cast the first stone to any who are without sin. Keep my heart soft when it hardens with judgment and disgust.
And tonight Jesus please bring the innocent your mighty wing and take them up with you when the ones who are meant to lay down their life for them are the very ones shattering their worlds. Be who You say You are, please You just have to be. When I close my eyes only let your truth run circles around my thoughts and quiet the fear so so readily waits to haunt.
We will declare you are trustworthy.
You are good.
You are the strong tower the righteous with desperation run into.
You are the One who navigates through our pain and sorrow to bring hope to the hopeless places.
Would You come put only Your powerful truth in my mouth and write Your promises deep into our hearts. We can't do this, we know we can't. Come be the strength in our weakness.
Would You come.
I have put my words in your mouth and covered with you the shadow of my hand,
I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth,
and who say to Zion 'you are My people.'