Can You Imagine?

There was a first at the Brumley household tonight: The blessing of having two extra guests spend the night with us.  Two extra superheroes to go along with the one I already have.  We recently signed up to provide respite care to foster families, which is an honor.  An honor I’m glad we finally took the steps to do.

Foster families are my heroes.

They care for children in hard places, and not just for a few days like us.  They are in it for the long haul.  It’s not just saying yes to caring for one more child.  It’s not just a mouth to feed or another one to bathe in the evenings.  There’s grief and sadness and trauma to go along with it.  Their trauma becomes your trauma.  Their hurt becomes your hurt.

These kiddos have a great foster mom.  She came over to drop them off for a few days with plenty of clothes, hugs, and a typed-out paper of the boys likes and dislikes.  She knows what they like to eat.  She shared that they need a stuffed animal to fall asleep with at night.  And when 8:00pm rolled around, she was just a text message away when I asked if they needed a night light and if they preferred the door open or closed when they fall asleep.

Again, she is my hero.

But you know who else is my hero?  The sweet kiddos that I just tucked into bed.  And every other child that they represent.

Tucked in by strangers.

Can you imagine what it’s like for these little boys?  Can you imagine the first time they slept at a stranger’s house?  A stranger.  Taken from the only normal they’ve ever known.  And even if we think their normal sucks, it’s still all they have.  Some have no words yet to share that they prefer juice to chocolate milk.  Some do have a voice, but because of life’s events, they are too afraid to tell you.  I wonder how long it takes them to fall asleep that first night…and the second…and the third.  Or if after they’ve been through several foster homes because their behavior was frowned upon, if they start thinking all kids move from one house to another every few weeks.  Or worse, do they think they are moved because something is wrong with them?

Can you imagine this for your child, your grandchild, your niece or nephew?

Can you imagine having them taken to a stranger’s house with no more than the clothes on their back.  No kiss or hug goodbye.  No explanation of why or how long.  No notes to explain what makes them feel loved and safe. Nothing.

Can you imagine?

If not, it’s likely because you haven’t been close enough. Which is the norm. It was for me.

We don’t want to know.

Sometimes I want to turn off the hurt in the world.  I want to look the other way.  I want it to be someone else’s problem.  Sometimes I think unknowingly I skim the Bible as more of a history book or “self-help when I feel like helping myself,” than I do the Holy Word from God.  Because otherwise, how could I have missed God’s command to care for the orphan, the widow, the vulnerable, the alien.

James 1:27 “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.”

Psalm 82:3 “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.”

Psalm 146:9 “The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.”

Acts 20:35 “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

And these are children.  God sees their worth and states pretty darn clearly that we should be their defenders, their protectors and their caregivers. The reality is that following Jesus will lead you right into their lives.

We can’t all do everything, but we can all do something.  Let’s start with seeing their faces instead of looking the other way.

Can you imagine every Christian family knowing the name of an orphan, a widow, someone without a home, someone without a job?

Can you imagine if we didn’t wonder what their stories were, but knew their stories personally because we stepped in to be a part of it?

Can you imagine better understanding God’s love for you, as you love those the world has deemed undeserving?  Or worse, that the world doesn’t see at all?

Can you see it? Can you imagine?

Psalm 10:14 “But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand.  The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”

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