And did I learn a lot. The challenges this family dealt with due to adopting a child eventually diagnosed with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) and RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) are astonishing. How this played out through the adoption, health care, and education systems sheds light on the many challenges of families trying to love and care for their mentally ill children.
This story is a good reminder of three lessons:
You never know what is going on in a stranger’s life. You may witness something you think you understand, but it’s impossible to know the full story.
Media can get it wrong also. Just because the headline says it doesn’t make it true.
Grace goes a long way. Give it as much as you need it.
I heard on a podcast this week that one word being used today to describe Christians by those outside of the faith is extreme. So in thinking about writing a post about the first fruit of the spirit (love), I asked myself a question: what kind of extreme love shows all observers that something supernatural is being produced? Here are two illustrations:
1. Forgiveness to the drunk driver who killed a family member
2. Traveling around the world twice to adopt a child
If after watching these videos the thought comes to you, “Wow! Those are moving stories. But I don’t think I have something that extreme to offer.” Allow me to pushback, please.
Anything that challenges you to go against yours or other’s norms is up for consideration when it comes to defining extreme.
Husbands, it probably sounds extreme to some of you to hear that some husbands have chosen to do the laundry for the family, not because they love doing laundry but because this is how they’ve been led to produce the fruit of love in their home.
Divorcees, it probably sounds extreme to some of you to hear that some remarried spouses actually engage with former spouses by traveling together, assisting financially, or routinely showing genuine care in various ways, not because they love the tension of past baggage but because this is how they’ve been led to produce the fruit of love in their family.
Employers, it probably sounds extreme to some of you to hear that some employers have chosen to not take raises or take a “usual” salary for someone in their position, not because they love living paycheck to paycheck but because this is how they’ve been led to produce the fruit of love to their employees and for their company.
Love should be extreme. Spirit-filled love should surely be extreme. Here’s a challenge-ask yourself this question in a form of a prayer and see what happens: “Holy Spirit, how/where and to whom can you produce extreme love through me? What will you do through me for which the only explanation could be extreme, supernatural love?”
“How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.”Ephesians 1:3-6 MSG
Our church has a partnership with Florida Baptist Children’s Homes. They do tremendous work for children in need in our state as well as around the world. Check out their website.
They have a celebratory phrase they use when they have been able to facilitate a successful adoption. They say the child has found their forever family. The first time I heard that phrase several things came to my mind:
That child is safe
That child is accepted
That child’s future is restored
That child can rest
That child is secure
That child’s wait is over
That child can be forever satisfied
Take those thoughts and apply them to the spiritual truth and promise of being adopted by God. They are deepened when you read that He decided to adopt us long, long ago.
I’ve been thinking lately about identity. Knowing one identity I have is an adopted son of God is simply amazing. And that identity is forever. How blessed! What peace!
Scripture encourages us to include statements of thankfulness in our prayer lives (Philippians 4:6). In my prayer of thanks today, two things came to mind: forgiveness and loss. One sounds positive, the other negative. Why did those come to mind? What’s the basis for being thankful in good and bad, joy and sorrow, positive and negative? This is the first of two blogs sharing those thoughts.
Thinking on those two things led me to words that began with the prefix re-. Re– often begins words that indicate a return to a previous condition, often verbs that indicate restoration. Such words include replace, remake, realign, redeem, and reform.
When forgiveness occurs, several doors may open for a return to a previous condition.
Rebirth – a child offers their mother forgiveness for giving them up for adoption and their relationship is reborn
Renewal – a spouse offers their mate forgiveness for keeping a secret and their trust is renewed
Restart – a boss offers their employee forgiveness for a misjudgment and their work is restarted
Reunite – a church offers their pastor forgiveness for sin and their communion is reunited
These examples are certainly good, joyful, positive outcomes. Good, but not easy to achieve. Forgiveness takes hard work, just like getting anything back to its previous condition. If you’re wrestling with the hard work of forgiveness, think on the re-. Look forward to being thankful for re-.
When have you experienced the thankfulness of re- through forgiveness? How did you get there?