A Calling To Love

A Calling To Love

In circles of faith, I’ve been hearing more and more rhetoric about the spiritual significance of foster care and adoption. It’s amazing to watch God’s people stepping up to take care of God’s children, and I hope the arch of redemption continues to bend on behalf of these vulnerable children. But, while listening to people muse about potentially adopting or fostering, I’ve heard all our good teaching surrounding adoption translate into ideas like:

    “I want to foster/adopt so that our family will reflect the diversity of God’s kingdom.”
    “I want to foster/adopt because I want our family to be a picture of the gospel.”
    “I want to foster/adopt because it’s important to God, so it should be important to me.”

All of these sound like spiritually grounded and beautiful reasons to make space for vulnerable kids. But the most spiritually rigorous motivation for fostering and adoption is so much simpler: an obedience to God fueled by an overflow of love

God has never asked us to be part of His marketing or brand-management teams. Turns out, God can be trusted with His own reputation. God has called us to care for orphans and widows, to love the broken and hurting, to proclaim the good news over the lives of those in darkness. We’ve been given great love, and so we are especially equipped to give great love.

Adoption is not about saying something.

It is about selflessly loving someone.

I caught this agenda-driven thinking in myself when we were considering a potential placement not long ago. This teen had been separated from family as a small child when her biological parent was deported and she was retained in CPS custody. I have been so horrified by the traumatic separations occurring at our borders that saying “yes” to this placement seemed like a tangible way to do something – I may not be able to stop current family separations, but I could help clean up our societal mess by making space in my home for a kid who’d fallen victim.

But, while praying about taking this teen, God whispered something that checked my intentions. “Emily, while border policy was part of her entrance into care, she actually is just a person. A young woman with a name and a very specific story and very specific needs. She’s an image-bearer, not an agenda.”

To be clear, God can take our misguided intentions and use them for Kingdom purposes. But the stripping away of alternate agendas WILL happen either way. Trying to say something (even something really important) with your life will simply not sustain you … the fires of placement burn up anything less resilient than love. Or you can choose to do the internal work with God on the front end and go into placement with an abundance of God’s longsuffering, compassionate, tender, merciful, intentional, relentless love to give to the children in your home.

Chances are high that your life will end up saying something profound about God to the world that’s watching you. Your family may end up as a microcosm of the Kingdom. And your family will definitely end up as a picture of the gospel. But those are beautiful byproducts of a calling simply to love.

Emily is wife to Josh and momma to Phoenix (bio, 8) and Jericho (adopted, 5). Emily is passionate about adoption and foster care, student ministry and (less importantly) Harry Potter. She spends her time freelance writing, teaching, reading, and serving at her church.

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