Yes, the orphan crisis is one of the few things that keeps me up at night. Children not only abandoned to AIDs, poverty and war but then subject to exploitation at the hands of traffickers in their own hometowns … and in my hometown. The lump in my throat comes not at the vast numbers of children orphaned throughout the world, but at the mental image of one single child. Cracked lips, hair matted from sweat, dirt caked fingernails and bloodshot eyes from yet another night of poor sleep on the street.
Millions of little cross-bearers fill our earth, without someone to help carry their load. I have yet to hear a story of an orphan enfolded into a home that didn’t reek of pain. The weight of my own personal pain has seemed unbearable at times, but it doesn’t hold a candle to what some of these 6 and 7 year-old orphans have faced. Alone. Their tolerance for pain stretched thin, and at an age where I didn’t have one “ouchie” go unkissed.
Eden’s ballet class is tomorrow. She dances around the room in a flurry of African hip-jerks and pirouette attempts. In her leotard and tights, the only thing that distinguishes her from her classmates (also learning to harness their energy into beauty) is her size. I sometimes forget that her petite frame didn’t come because God intended her to be pint-sized — but because, as an infant, she spent her days laying alone next to the field where her father worked. No breast to feed this little ballerina.
As I futilely try to wrap my mind around how I see one of the world’s greatest crises — a child plodding through life parent-less — there is one conclusion, however, that I keep coming back to.
God doesn’t need me.
I have to admit there are times when I’ve approached this crisis (and even our own adoption as an answer) with a virulent pride, albeit subtle. On the surface, it comes in the form of seeing myself orchestrating a rescue mission, but a few layers deep reveals a fissure in my understanding of God. He did not create this crisis — but that does not mean He is powerless to fix it. And when the catalyst for my actions is the belief that God needs me to respond, He is relegated to a co-pilot. I become the healer, He becomes my helper as I heal.
The end result of this line of thinking or an intimate peak into the things God cares about can look the same: zealous passion for the things on God’s heart. But the source of that passion is everything.
As we move forward with our next adoption, I wrestle with pride about how I am responding to (what I perceive to be) one of the world’s greatest crises. And when I’m there, I am usually furiously chasing paperwork and breathing down my social worker’s neck to see if we could possibly speed things up and get these children home sooner.
And at times I rest my head on His chest, like I used to do with my dad when I was a child, and I hear His heartbeat for these little ones. And I ache with the pain that He allows me to feel from His heart. And when I’m there … I am usually furiously chasing paperwork and breathing down my social worker’s neck to see if we could possibly speed things up and get these children home sooner.
I believe God cares more about the source of my passion than the reach of its output. My invitation to participate is less about meeting a need than it is about walking more deeply with the Father. And this hard-won truth has come after years of zealous pride in my “work”.
I know now that there are two rescue missions going on in this adoption. He’s rescuing my heart, even more still. He’s giving me a window into how He feels about orphans. His heartbeat. His plan. And He’s tenderly letting me in on His work, in the same way I allow my little Caleb to help me cook. He’s drawing me in deeper into Himself by using me in the life of a child He could so easily save without me.
And He’s putting the lonely — two of them, in this case — in a family. Even under our roof and in our arms, they will still need Jesus. Clean water, soft skin, and big comfy beds are what He lets me provide, among other things. But the power to save rests not in my hands.
He likes it when we respond to His heart, and the world is brought more deeply in line with His kingdom when we do so. It’s just that, actually, God doesn’t need me.
He chooses to invite me.