And just like that, they’re gone.
It seems like just last week I was wondering why there weren’t more stockings hanging from our mantel, after completing our foster care training and waiting for our first placement.
Then all of a sudden, they were here.
Three little boys filled the empty beds in our home and burrowed their way into our hearts.
Is it possible to welcome three little strangers into one’s home and not learn something? Weighty things like love and loss and grace and more grace.
(Especially when those three added to your own three make six…which is a pretty overwhelming number when it comes to human beings who are dependent on you for their survival.)
Yes, I learned a lot along the way. And I’m sure many more lessons will occur to me over the next several months as I continue pondering. But there’s something in particular that has me pretty awestruck right now:
No matter what, God still wins.
Our first experience as foster parents was wonderful, but it was far from perfect.
(Because what could possibly be perfect when people are involved?)
The chaos comes to mind…
I called it “happy chaos” on more than one occasion. And it was true. But I’m afraid it wasn’t the whole truth.
Because there were plenty of instances of angry chaos.
Or loud chaos.
And let’s not forget rebellious chaos.
There were times when I felt like we really should just give the boys back.
More than once, it occurred to me that we were in over our heads. And it sure wasn’t their fault. Not in the slightest. But I sort of wondered whether they would be better off without us.
I stand in awe of a God who gets His hands dirty with the messes wrought by pain and loss and sin and selfishness. And who then proceeds to invite us to get our hands dirty right along with Him.
And even when we look up at Him with trembling lips and watery eyes because we feel like we’re making a much bigger mess than there was to begin with, He validates us and supports us and acknowledges us as His own simply because we’re there. With Him. Where He asked us to be.
This God who cleans up messes doesn’t expect His children to be mess-free ourselves.
He uses us anyway.
I remember reading Samson’s prayers (Judges 15-16) a couple of years ago, and marveling at his presumption. That Samson, self-indulgent to the core, had the nerve to ask God for anything blew my mind. But when we fast-forward to the end of Samson’s story, we see that God still won. God had a purpose for Samson that was so much bigger than Samson. And that purpose was fulfilled, in spite of Samson.
Certainly, Samson himself bore severe consequences for his sinful way of life. But God’s ultimate plan wasn’t overwhelmed by Samson’s struggles.
The truth is, this God who is big enough to save me from the penalty of sin and strong enough to save me from the power of sin is also everything enough to always be the winner…in spite of sin.
I don’t know the end of our story yet. But I do know there’s a man across town who now has his three little boys back under his roof. That man didn’t know God 8 months ago. But now he does. He and his wife weren’t part of a church 8 months ago. But now they are. And those three little boys who had never prayed before…well, now they do.
As evidenced by the seven-year-old’s lunchtime prayer on his last day in our home: “Dear God, thank you for this food. And thank you that we get to go back and live with Daddy and Mommy today, and for everything You’ve done for them. Amen.”
Yes, God did it all.
In spite of me.
But I’m sure glad I had a front-row seat.
“Behold, these are but the outskirts of His ways,
and how small a whisper do we hear of Him!
But the thunder of His power who can understand?”
Written by Jennifer Clarke