Today, among many children running amok at our feet, a stranger asked me and my friend why in the world would we, Safe Families for Children, and we specifically, Tim and I, would host a child for FREE.
I have never been given a clearer GO sign to share the gospel.
So together, my friend and I explained the basics. Because of Jesus, we were once orphans and now we are adopted as sons and daughters. Now we are compelled to exemplify that gift to us and do the same with others. And we do it because God told us in His Word to care for orphans and widows. It is who God is, and now who we are.
I've been chewing on this all day. Did we say enough? Did we say too little? I want so badly to add now: You know, it isn't free. My adoption into God's family was actually very costly! But Jesus paid it all, by his death. So now yes, my love is free, because God has held nothing back from me! So I've got plenty to give without fear for want! And by the way, I didn't do a darn thing to earn His free, overwhelming, overflowing, lavishing love upon me.
Summed up: Who would do this for free? Jesus. So now I can be free and do it for free too.
One of the most unexpected struggles I've had in the past week is this: How do I explain Safe Families? I wanted a quick, concise, not puffed up answer. When I walk into my house with three kids suddenly instead of two, how do I explain to my neighbor why? When people say "fostering" they don't necessarily need to explain more because it has been around awhile and people have an idea in their head what that is. Safe Families has been around for 15 years, but is brand new in Dayton, so it begs more explanation. This confused me, and selfishly, annoyed me as I struggled through the words and found conversations belabored.
But then, the Holy Spirit convicted me, and I'm so stinking grateful now when people ask, even though sometimes I would like to keep living my life without explaining myself all the time! But like 1 Peter says I AM NOT MY OWN! I am the Lord's. I am chosen, for no reason I can fathom, in order to be a showcase of His holiness here, and proclaim with every movement-- yes every check out line, indeed, every library lap sit, and, you bet, every mailman at my door, that I once was in darkness and now I'm in marvelous light!!!
That I once had not received mercy and now I have received mercy!
That I once did not belong, but now I am in the very family of God!
The reason Safe Families begs an explanation is because the Gospel is quite befuddling.
In the past week, I've been given multiple opportunities to proclaim the excellencies of Christ, the gospel. And it gives me pause to write to you and to tell you, that when you obey Him, you will look different and strange and it will confuse people. WHAT IS THIS (FILL IN THE BLANK EXPRESSION OF HOLINESS)!? And you must look at the person in the eye who calls you Mother Teresa and say, "No, you don't know me, and you don't know Christ."
The Word tells us to be holy because He is holy (1 Peter 1:16, quoting from Leviticus 11:44). Because maybe, by God's grace, He will use that display of holiness to bring others into His family. God does not have to use us. But He wants to, because He is our Dad. It's like He bought us front row tickets to the best concert in all of history. He wants you to be there, to be a part of His plan to love others as He has loved you. He will work whether or not you choose to sit in the front row seat He has set aside for you. But for me, and my house? WE WANT TO BE THERE!
We will be MOSH PIT PROCLAIMERS OF THE GOSPEL.
My proclamations of marvelous light looks more like shouting the gospel over a mosh pit of children... but you get the idea.
We know in our deepest hearts how lost we were and how stinking grateful we are to be found, and we want to witness God's saving grace to others as we witness to them about His saving grace to us.
Ask God to make you Holy, even and especially if it means you will be different and questioned. Witness God's work in front of you and through you as you witness about His work inside of you. Be willing to be interrupted to explain at length, because there is actually nothing more important in that moment than giving a reason for the hope that is in you.