“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12).
The night is snowy, and I see them emerging from the garage, two little tow-headed boys, the taller gripping the hand of the smaller. They’ve come to live with us while their mom gets help. Their eyes are large as they make the path to the house and I hold out my arms to them. “Welcome home,” I say.
When we took in Joey and Jin, 10 years ago, many neighbours reached out with baking, offers to help babysit, to clean our house, to fold laundry – but some said, “This will ruin your family.”
We had a two-year-old and a six-month-old at the time, but when I received the desperate call from their mother, begging us to help, telling us she couldn’t be a mother anymore, love took over. Love took the first step, and Faith followed, gripping Love’s hand.
Because the two are connected. Of faith, hope and love, the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13:13).
If we had heeded the voices speaking common sense – the ones worried we would be taking on too much – we never would have helped those boys. And it’s true – it was too much. We had to completely deny ourselves and take up our cross. Yet isn’t this what the Lord tells us to do? (Matt. 16:24).
Even as we obeyed, the Lord blessed. He provided everything we needed, including a nanny. It was a wonderful, crazy, rejoicing year of sticky-finger hugs, potty training and tantrums, dances in the living room, and witnessing a mother restored so she, in turn, could take her boys home again.
Recently I’ve been called, again, into that dangerous place of faith – that precipice upon which I totter, the line between reason and radical belief.
God has whispered to me that it’s time to travel again to Africa, to visit the ministry he started through me nearly eight years ago. I’m “Mommy Emily” over there, and these pastors and widows and teenage mothers have become brothers and sisters, whom I love deeply. It’s been two years since I last visited – and we all miss one another with a great ache.
And yet, my six-year-old daughter is battling separation anxiety since we moved down the road from our old house this summer. Not to mention, the world is battling a pandemic. I’ve had people telling me not to go, telling me I could ruin my daughter by leaving right now, that I could bring COVID to Africa or bring it home to Canada, that it’s not wise to travel – it’s not “common sense.”
And even as I do everything humanly possible to protect my loved ones – like preparing gifts for my children to unwrap each day that I’m gone and making sure they will be well taken care of by Oma and Opa, who share the same yard as us – I find myself on the precipice, again: do I listen to the voice of Fear, or do I step out in Faith?
If we do happen to hear from the Holy Spirit, a command to in fact step out in faith (which doesn’t always make sense) – should we not also then trust that God will provide everything we need, not only for ourselves, but for our families, and those we leave behind?
Held in his grip
Jesus says, “No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for my sake and for the gospel will fail to receive a hundredfold in the present age – houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, along with persecutions – and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).
If we lean not on our own understanding but instead, in all our ways, trust the Lord, surely he will direct our paths (Prov. 3:5-6). This leaning not on our own understanding means, instead, a leaning into the still, small voice of God. When we hear it, we can throw our entire selves, our entire lives, upon it – for it is spoken by the surest Voice in the world. The Word of God is “living and active . . . able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). When the Lord speaks, he often says things that don’t make sense – because he desires to grow our love, and evoke our faith. Our one job is to obey – and to trust that he, in his great mercy and wisdom and kindness – is able to bring peace to every heart involved in the process, including my six-year-old.
If we hadn’t asked Joey and Jin into our home, they may never have given their lives to Christ, nor been baptized recently in our church. Ten years later, we continue to see them once a month; my children beg for Joey and Jin to come visit for they’ve become brothers, and this is the Family of God – a crazy, sticky-hug, rejoicing family that says Yes to Love, knowing Faith will follow.
So let’s step out in faith, friends, our Saviour gripping our hand, never to let us go.
Follow up this column with Candice Goodchild’s news piece: ‘Foster families urgently needed as pandemics linger’
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