Friday, November 11, 2011
Last December, on Christmas Eve, the Hubs and I committed to expanding our family through adoption. Over the past year, we have prayerfully explored how adoption might look for us. In the process, we have studied scriptures that mandate God's call on his people to "defend the cause of the fatherless" (Isaiah 1:17)
Since we are challenged to check scripture with scripture and not just take individual verses out of context for our own personal argument, we dug deep into the problem before us. Here is some of what God has to say about the fatherless...
What the Bible says about the Fatherless
One thing is clear. God is serious about His commitment to the fatherless. And we should be too. So, over the past year, I have been looking into the face of the fatherless and what I have found disturbs me to the core of who I am.
Fatherless has many faces. Too many faces. Many times, it's an orphan. Other times, it's a child whose family has been dismantled. Every time, the effects are devastating. The statistics are quite sobering. According to the website Dads 4 Kids the following statements can be made about children who grow up without a father:
"Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy, and criminality."
"...the absence of the father in the home affects significantly the behavior of adolescents and results in the greater use of alcohol and marijuana."
"Fatherless children are at dramatically greater risk of suicide."
"Boys who grow up in father-absent homes are more likely that those in father-present homes to have trouble establishing appropriate sex roles and gender identity."
"The economic consequences of a [father's] absence are often accompanied by psychological consequences, which include higher-than-average levels of youth suicide, low intellectual and education performance, and higher-than-average rates of mental illness, violence and drug use."
"Fatherless children -- kids living in homes without a stepfather or without contact with their biological father -- are twice as likely to drop out of school."
Here is more info on the fatherless if you have the stomach for it...
Statistics on Fatherless Children
Had enough? Let me point out that these statistics don't even begin to address the world-wide orphan crisis where over 140 million children are left without a mother or a father. These statistics are just the tip of a very menacing ice burg that humanity is failing to address.
These are the facts and they paint a picture that breaks the heart of God. Therefore, it should break the hearts of God's people. Children were never intended to be fatherless. And yet, we see a generation of children growing up without a father.
Some see these statistics and use them as a justification for abortion. Let me say definitively, this would NOT be God's solution. For God values the sanctity of life and considers each child, born and unborn, precious. He has a plan and a purpose for every human life, and His plans do not include abortion.
Neither do God's plans include abandoment. The Church mustn't turn away as this festering problem affects the children of today, and the mothers and fathers of tomorrow. So, what are we do to? My response is...do what you are called to do. Start with a prayer. Let me warn you. It might sting a little. Probably a lot. Then, go where God leads you one step of faith at a time. You don't have to have the whole journey from start to finish all figured out before you commit to follow after the LORD. Just choose to walk in obedience. God will do the rest.
For us, our family has been called to adopt one of the fatherless, but not everyone is called to adoption. Still every child of God is called to do something on behalf of the fatherless. And I believe our Heavenly Father takes our efforts to be his hands and feet and multiplies them for His glory. As ambassadors of Christ and God followers, we are called to go to where they are and care for them in their distress. (Deuteronomy 10:18)
May I challenge you to pray about your role in fighting for the fatherless. Perhaps you will mentor a child who has been abandoned by a father. You might decide to sponsor a child through a charitable organization. Maybe you will serve on a missions team that will go abroad and meet the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of the fatherless. You might even decide, as we have, to open your home and your heart to adoption.
I don't know your role in defending the cause of the fatherless. But this I know. We all have a part to play. And we will all suffer the consequences if we fail to do so. Let's not look away from the face of the fatherless.
Monday, November 7, 2011
image by www.faithclipart.com
My husband and I love to snuggle up and watch movies. It's one of our hobbies together. Our friends tease us that we have seen every movie that has ever been made. Despite our best efforts, I am sure we have missed a few. One movie I have been thinking about a lot the past couple of weeks in the movie "Ransom".
Imagine your child has been kidnapped. That is the gist of this 1996 thriller starring Mel Gibson. I know. It's a nightmare none of us want to consider. But hang with me for just a bit. Picture it now. You precious son or daughter, lost to you, can be purchased back...for a ransom. That's what God did for you, His child, through Christ.
Scripture teaches us that "the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many". (Matthew 20:28) Furthermore, "there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people". (1 Timothy 2:5-7) Because of sin, all of mankind has been captured by an enemy who seeks our destruction. After all, "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord". (Romans 6:23) Because of the fall of man, we are all born into sin. We are told that "for this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant". (Hebrews 9:14-16) You have been ransomed.
When I consider the fact that my Heavenly Father sent me a ransom in Christ, before I even took a breath, I am filled with wonder. Truly, His great love is too big for me to fully comprehend. But, when I filter these events through a parental lens, I see more clearly. For if one of my precious children were taken from me, there is nothing I wouldn't do to bring them home. My kids are precious to me and worth any ransom. That is who you are to God.
God, The Father, saw his children captive to sin and sent a ransom in Jesus Christ. I could not free myself. Not with good deeds. Not with charity. Not with social justice. Neither can you. Only Christ can free us from the captivity of sin. Through Christ alone, the ransom was paid in full. My ransom. Your ransom. He is the ransom for us all.
Friday, November 4, 2011
“He must have loved me once…“
The thought gripped my heart as my eyes gazed on the tattered photo in my hands. My eyes focused intently on the image of a new father as he held his newborn baby girl in his arms. His faced was turned away from the camera, and it left me only to imagine his expression during this tender father/daughter moment. The baby girl in this picture is me. The man is my biological father.
Life has given me many images of this man. I know him as my father, but I do not call him "Dad". For the word "Daddy" is far too intimate to describe my relationship with him. This is a man who is a mysterious puzzle in my life. For although he was gifted with fatherhood, he discarded me when I was just a girl. The role of my "Dad" was filled when my mother remarried. And the loss of my father faded over time.
I have many pictures in my mind of my interactions with this man. Most of them conjure up feelings of helplessness and fear. For as long as I can remember, his presence filled me with deep insecurities. And though it has been almost three decades since I was in his presence, there are some things time cannot erase. Hateful words and devastating emotional games have left an unforgettable impression on my heart. He simply was not equipped for the responsibilities and privileges associated with being a dad. Over time, as his interest in me vanished, I became one of the "fatherless".
Now a grown woman, I see him differently. Memories of the past now fail to look so dark. Though I will never understand his choice to leave his post of fatherhood, I no longer yearn for his affection. As a girl, I anxiously wondered how I might earn his love. As a woman of faith, I understand there was no way to capture his heart. But I am adored by the One who made me. He is "Abba", my "Daddy". My Heavenly Father.
Even though my biological father is part of me, it is God the Father who gave me life. As I place the photo back in the box from which it came, God gently reminds me that I am no longer "fatherless". In fact, I have never been so. The LORD is "the father to the fatherless". (Psalm 68:5)Daily, He continues to make provisions for my future. I am never out of His sight. I am not unlovable. I am not unworthy. I am His precious daughter. And he gave me a stepfather who filled the space left behind in my dad's absence.
Perhaps what amazes me most is how my Heavenly Father has used every hurt to shape my life into the beautiful adventure it has become. My husband and I are pursuing domestic infant adoption. Now, as we wait to meet our chosen child, I dream of days to come. I look forward to the day when our baby is placed in my husband's arms. I long to hold our child close, and sing him/her to sleep. This baby is deeply loved and prayed for already, and we shall point him/her to the love of the Heavenly Father each and every day. This baby, who might otherwise be fatherless, shall never know what it is to be so.
So, I watch for God to move. And I wait for the next step. More than anything, I rest secure in the unconditional love of my Heavenly Father, "Abba", who “takes delight in me. Quiets me with His love. And rejoices over me with singing.“ (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV) Forevermore, I have my Father's love.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Living in north Texas, winter is rainy and cold. It's not Iowa cold where the wind chill takes your breath away. Here, it is more of a damp cold, that makes you want to hide under a blanket. On those dreary wet days, the kids have no choice but to entertain themselves inside. One of their favorite rainy day distractions used to be Play-Doh. Even now, my girls like to play "bakery" and mash the colorful clay into pretend cakes and cookies for imaginary customers. For hours, they sit together at the kitchen table, molding and shaping their Play-Doh into creations from their own imagination. And if their design isn't the masterpiece they envisioned, they simply pound it down and start again.
The Bible tells us we are like clay. In Job, scripture says, "I am the same as you in God’s sight; I too am a piece of clay." (Job 22:6) We are constantly being molded either into the likeness of Christ or into the image of the world. One leads to peace, the other to peril. One leads to joy, the other despair. One leads to restoration, the other to ruin. When we choose to spend time with God, we allow Him to shape us into the creation he imagined before our conception. Scripture explains "yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand." (Isaiah 64:8)
Not long ago, I spoke with a woman who had forgotten that she is "the work of a potter’s hands". (Lamentations 4:2) Bitter from disappointment, the woman explained that her life had not turned out the way she had planned. Through the years, she had grown distrustful of the LORD. Rather than clinging to God and allowing Him to mold her life into something meaningful and beautiful, she instead chose to embrace the false securities of the world. In her discouragement, this young woman's heart had grown cold towards God.
My heart broke when I took in the hopelessness of her words. She was so sure she was right about the LORD, although my eyes of faith could see clearly what she could not. She insisted her past circumstances offered her all the "proof" she needed. In her present state, she is blind to all that God has done for her. She only sees her pain. Consequently, there was little I could say to change her mind. Instead, I chose to hear her out. Then I took her before the Lord in prayer. I am not close to this woman, and I have no idea where her heart stands today, but I know the LORD isn't finished with her. In time, He shall shape this beautiful woman's life as it seems best to Him. (Jeremiah 18:4)
As a mother of faith, her story is one that I keep close to my heart. Truly, it is a reminder of how important it is for me to mold the hearts of my children for God. I long for them to be clay in the potter's hands all of their days. For, in His hands, the hands which gave them life, their future is secure, no matter how their circumstances appear. Troubles are momentary. However, God is eternal. Regardless of the political or financial climate of today or the deteriorating condition of the world, my children will know His peace if they rest in the hands of the potter.
We are told that in this life, trouble would surely find us. After all, we are born with a sinful nature into a fallen world. All of creation is groaning in peril. Trouble is a certainty we all must face. Still, God is with us in our troubles and He is working everything for good. (Romans 8:28) If we are wise, we will be mindful that even in our troubles, God is molding and shaping us into the image of Christ. For the LORD declares, "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand." (Jeremiah 18:6)
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
For the past few weeks, I have been studying the Hebrew names of God. One of my favorites is "Abba" which means "God the Father". It literally translates into the word Daddy". Furthermore, I was surprised at the revelation in my Bible study class that Christianity is the only religion where God reveals himself as our Father. The Bible assures us, "I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters," says the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:18NIV)
Because of what Christ did for us, we have been adopted into God's divine family. Scripture teaches that "even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do and it gave him great pleasure." (Ephesians 1:4-6 NLT)
Hear the truth about whose you are and understand the depth of God's love for you.
He is your Father.
He loves you.
He chose you.
He adopted you.
He approves of you.
You bring him pleasure.
You are His child.
Truly, our enemy has been on the assault against fathers for decades, for he knows the power associated with such a role in a child's life. Too many children are growing up without a father. Some of us go our entire lives without knowing the unconditional love of an earthly father. For many, the absence of a father leaves an empty place that leaves us continually yearning.
Fortunately, we are never alone for God claims himself as the "father to the fatherless". (James 1:26) As your Father, he will not fail you. And "just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him." (Psalm 103:13). He is Abba. God the Father. And He loves you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)
Perhaps you are lucky enough to have a wonderful earthly father. Count your blessings. But if you are amongst the multitudes who are wandering through this life fatherless, take heart. Lift your eyes to Heaven and remember...you are a child of God.(1 John 3:1)