Saturday, May 12, 2012

Don't Walk Away Sad

I’ve had this fuzzy, “something’s wrong” feeling my whole adult life about my Christianity. To my friends and family I looked like a “strong Christian”. But I knew….something was not right. I was a worship leader at church. I’ve adopted six children from foster care. I know scriptures left and right—gosh, I even published a book of the story of the Bible. And another book against abortion. But my spirit was crying, “You are SO worldly….You are SO caught up in this world’s culture….You haven’t given up your life for Jesus!”

I could never pinpoint exactly what was “off.” But I would go through seasons of feeling guilty for the material things I have. Conviction would overcome me saying “there are people suffering in the world….how can you justify living in comfort?” But then, as quickly as it had come, the guilty season would leave.…allowing me to once again relish in the comforts of my peaceful home. After all, I’m not even that well off…I live pretty humbly compared to many Americans. Right?

In 2008, after we had become early “empty nesters” God directed Norman and I to adopt again from foster care. We were blessed with a healthy baby boy. Two years later we adopted a healthy sibling group of three, ages 7, 8, and 9. Gosh, with all the affirmation I received from friends and family about our adoptions, you would have thought I was the next Mother Theresa! But in my mind, this was the LEAST we could do.

Then early this year we decided to adopt again, but we started looking into International Adoption. I befriended as many people as I could on Facebook who had adopted Internationally. I didn’t know then that my husband and I were in for the shock of our lives. We came across a woman named Adéye and started reading her blog ( I finally knew what that fuzzy, “off” feeling had been for these last twenty years. I only wish it hadn’t taken me this long to find out. I won’t even try to explain—just PLEASE go to her site and read for yourself!

Christian friends, there is no denying the truth of God’s Word. We American Christians have fallen into false teaching, thinking that all we need to do is “believe that Jesus is the Son of God, confess that he is our Lord and Savior, and ask him to forgive us our sins.” That’s it. We’re done. Saved!! Praise the Lord! (Oh yeah, and we give our tithes and offerings—of course not to gain our salvation, but because that’s what we’re called to do.) But I have news for all of us. WE ARE CALLED TO GIVE UP OUR LIVES FOR JESUS AND HIS GOSPEL. WE ARE CALLED TO STORE UP OUR TREASURES IN HEAVEN, AND NOT HERE ON THE EARTH. WE ARE CLEARLY TOLD THAT WHATEVER WE DO FOR THE LEAST OF THESE, WE DO IT FOR JESUS!!

For those who know me and have wondered (even in an annoyed way) “Why does she always say she feels so worldly when she’s “doing so much for the Lord”??” I’ll give you some illustrations that expose my heart. Maybe some of you can relate:

*Hmmm, this carpet is over eleven years old and really needs to be replaced.
*I’d like to change these old red curtains and maybe do white instead, to give the house a more airy feeling.
*My stove is the only appliance that isn’t stainless steel. When we have some extra money I think we should replace it so it matches the fridge and the dishwasher.
*Actually, the dishwasher does a horrible job of cleaning dishes—I always have to rewash so many of them—we need a new one!
*I’d love to replace that picture over the couch with one that says, “As For Me And My House, We Will Serve The Lord.” (a good testimony for visitors, you know)
*Gee, I’ve had these clothes for so long. I’d really like to get some Bohemian style clothes—long, flowing skirts, embroidered tops, etc.
++Oh, we had a decent real estate closing—let’s give some money to World Vision—help a family buy a goat and two chickens so they can feed themselves. It’s awful how poor those families in Africa are.
*Spring is here—time to buy a bunch of flowers to make my yard and pool look beautiful. And there are some patches in the yard with no grass—gotta fix that so the kids’ shoes don’t get muddy when they play outside.
*Actually, I’m tired of the color of the shutters on our house. I want a brighter, happier look. I think a bluish green will work—kind of “Charleston-ish”. I really loved visiting there last month—such a great home school experience for the kids!
*Come to think of it, I think I’ll paint the front porch floor the same color. And it would be nice to add two more rocking chairs to the front porch—this way I can have two on each side of the door, and when my parents come over we can all rock on our chairs and drink iced tea—true Georgia style.

I could go on and on and on and on. And you know what I’ve heard a MILLION times from my fellow Christians? “There’s nothing wrong with that stuff. You shouldn’t feel guilty. You’re allowed to enjoy things. You tithe and give offerings—God is blessing you for that. He wants you to enjoy your life!”

Hmmmmm, really? Well, what about this girl? Doesn't God want her to enjoy her life?

Or these boys? Do you think they find any joy in life? (God help us)

Surely if I can have a new dishwasher, these children can have at least a toy.

If my children have at least 10 outfits each, shouldn't this girl have one decent pair of clothes that actually fits her?

But we prosper and prosper, while these children rot in cribs. We feed ourselves until we have to buy new clothes that fit us better, while some of these children are emaciated—with barely enough energy to move. This is unimaginable. Too much to handle. I need God to bear me up and help me not burst with sorrow when I see these children and realize that nobody is loving them. Oh God….help us!

Now I totally get what Jesus said to the rich young ruler. "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (Matt. 19:21) The man went away sad. He couldn’t do it. I think most of us feel the same way. We justify having so much, while the poor suffer. Listen to this song if you can. It’s not a Christian song, so it’s not completely doctrinally correct but I bet God sure wants his children to be smacked in the face with these lyrics.
"Praying For Time"
You know what the scary thing to me is right now? MY POOR MEMORY! I can sit here writing this with all the conviction in the world, but I can just as easily forget it all in about five days if I don’t keep these suffering children before my eyes EVERY DAY! So that is what we are doing. We see posts every day of children with special needs--listed on Reece’s Rainbow or Rainbow Kids or any other site that will promise to remind us daily of the need to care for these orphans. You remember the often quoted verse, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Well, if THAT’S the kind of religion that pleases God, then THAT’S the religious group I want to be a part of!

Am I saying that every Christian has to adopt a waiting child? No. That’s unrealistic. Anyway, there are over 2 billion professing Christians and only somewhere around 147 million orphans, so every Christian doesn’t HAVE to adopt a waiting child. But I AM saying, and I’m not afraid to say it—that if you are enjoying riches on this earth while you know of people suffering—whether it be orphans, or starving families, or people trapped in sex slavery, etc. etc. and if you only do the bare minimum to help them (like giving a small percentage of your income) then I am warning you that you may be very surprised when you stand before God to be judged.

Can you live with old carpet and give the $6,000 to a family who is trying to raise funds to adopt a suffering child? Can you keep your old dishwasher and give $1,000 to the care of “the least of these?” Can your kids not get any new clothes this year so you can send the $600 to clothe the naked instead? How about downgrading your house, or car, or selling your boat, etc. etc. and giving it ALL away? Don’t go away sad like the rich young ruler. Read Adéye’s blog posts and look at the pictures. Visit and stare at the children who are the least cute…read about their suffering….and the need for people like you….for people like me….to adopt or GIVE to the adoption cause. Let us GIVE our lives for Jesus. Remember that he said. “Whatever you’ve done for the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.” May God bless you with the true joy of being able to look at stained carpet in your house and smile because you know that your money is going to someone who needs it a million times more than you do. 

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