I've been really longing to be with Jesus... you know, just sit at His side, listen to His voice, watch Him up close and study His every move. So I've been reading through the Gospel of John, soaking up each interaction He has with each person He encounters. It has been water for my thirsty soul.
Earlier this week I found myself reading and then re-reading his encounter with the woman at the well (John 4). I love the counter-cultural compassion that He shows. He threw tradition and cultural expectations to the wind and spoke to not only a woman, but a Samaritan woman. I love his gentle and honest pursuit of her heart. He was so confident in what His role was in this woman's life, even if it was just for a brief interaction. He knew His purpose and was not about to let a few raised eyebrows from His disciples or onlookers keep Him from loving well.
How many times do I let the curious looks of others thwart me from accomplishing what God has called me to do? As I think about parenting and fostering children from hard places, how many times will I be tempted to make choices that gain others approval instead of doing what my child actually needs in that moment? The Lord has been bringing this need for approval to my heart many times recently. I anticipate that this will be a challenge for me...wanting to be viewed a certain way by others, wanting to be respected as a parent and for the choices I make and the way my child "turns out". But this path God has called us to and the path be have chosen to walk isn't designed to cater to my need to be respected and well thought of. It's designed to love and redeem that which is broken. Once again, a call to surrender.
As I continued to read from John I encountered more of Jesus doing things that seemed counter-intuitive to those around him. He was healing people from a distance, restoring life on the sacred day of rest, and then there was the incident with the boy. "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?". (John 6:9) Oh how those words penetrate deeply to my own questioning soul.
Over the last several months I have been wrestling with the Lord about my role with orphan care and adoption. I have spent hours pouring over the profiles of the waiting children in Africa, learning their names, favorite colors, what they want to be when they grow up.... and my heart has been grieved. I find myself asking God why? Why can't we bring more then one home now? Why aren't more people willing to adopt these precious older children who's time seems to be running out? Why did you choose our Little Man....for us...now? There have been many restless nights as I close my eyes and see these precious faces and desperately want to see them with a family.
You see, the lad with the few morsels of food, he and I have a lot in common. I too feel like I am standing before Jesus with a handful of resources asking Him "...but what are these for so many people?".
And do you know what Jesus keeps saying to me?
You have exactly what I need.
What you have to offer is exactly what I've given you to do the work I've called you to do right now. I can do so much with so little.
You see, it's not as much about what's in my hands, as much as it is about the heart behind my hands. What am I willing to do with what God has given me? And maybe even more important then, what am I willing to do, but rather, what am I willing to be?
Am I willing to be uncomfortable?
Am I willing to be broken?
Am I willing to be quiet and be still?
Am I willing to be ridiculed?
Am I willing to be misunderstood?
Am I willing to be lonely?
Am I willing to be used?
"Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something HE sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner." (John 5:19)
When I read who Jesus was over these last few pages of John, those are all the things I see him being. I would much rather there be a check list of things I have to do. I love lists. But this being thing, that's a whole different story. That requires work beneath the surface. It requires me to sit with Jesus, to search my heart, to acknowledge my sin, to repent of my ways, to align my heart with His, and to walk humbly with my God. Over and over and over again.
"Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst' ". (John 6:35)
Last week, I got connected with a mom who adopted a little boy from our Little Man's orphanage. She was telling my that our boys had been friends and that she knew our Little Man pretty well. We started chatting and I found out she was the board of directors for our Little Man's orphanage. Then she told me that a few years back she put together a team of people and they have been sponsoring our Little Man. They've been making sure he was able to go to school, be well fed and clothed, have the medical attention he needed, etc. I can not put into words the deep gratitude that filled my heart when I read her words. God had been providing and protecting my Little Man long before I even knew his name.
What if this woman had looked down at her handful of resources and thought, "but what are these for so many people?"? What if each person that joined the team to help support our son had doubted the difference their little contribution could make? How could they ever know years ago, that God had chosen to use them and the resources HE had given them, to help sustain the life of a little boy until his parents could bring him home? They couldn't have known, but God did.
And so, as I sit with God and wrestle with who He is and who I am with my handful of bread and fish, I find myself in awe of this small glimpse of the big picture God has beautifully woven together.