I get it. I get that feeling. I too want to protect my heart. I want to keep it safe, keep it hidden, keep it close. I don't want to pour out my love, my time, my energy, never getting any return for it when the kids leave. I don't want to cry. I don't want to wonder what their life is like when they are gone. I don't want to bear the burden of finding out later that after their parents got them back and moved them away, things blew up in their family again and they are back in the system. And I can't do anything about it. And I don't even know where they are sleeping at night or who is tucking them in or if anyone is even tucking them in.
I don't want to care. Because caring hurts. I would rather ignore the problem and play it safe.
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But the reality is that there are almost a half million children in the foster care system in the US today. More than a third of them are adoptable if someone would step up. And thinking about these numbers crushes me. Because I know that it is more than just a massive number, that each precious one has a face, a story, a name. And I am reminded of this by thinking about the six little ones that we have been able to serve so far in our time as foster parents. And I know that each one of these nearly 500,000 children is precious, made by God, with potential to know Him and be known by Him.
And then I think about how my God is the Father of the fatherless. I remember that he has tender care for the orphan, the afflicted and the needy. And I think about how he has transferred his heart, his compassion for "the least of these" to my heart, and that I need to reflect his love for them by pouring out my life for them.
Most importantly, I remember that Jesus says that he came to bind up the broken hearted. That implies that it is an expectation that as Christians, our hearts will be broken. If you do any kind of ministry, any thing to serve others, your heart WILL be broken. But the good news is: Jesus will bind it up. And each time he binds up my broken heart, I find that it is actually a better heart than it was before the breaking.
So, Christian, don't play it safe. Don't keep your heart in a little protective box, away from the sin and dirt of the word. Put it out there. Let it get stomped on, kicked around and beaten up. Because you have the promise that Jesus will bind it up, and the promise that our work for the gospel and the inevitable trials that come with it will be rewarded in heaven.
"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18