“… Jesus knew His hour had come that he should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” John 13:1
There isn’t a love more perfect than the love that Jesus displayed on that night. As He sat with His disciples, knowing that Judas would betray Him to death, He lived out the ultimate example of security and love. His security in His Father’s love, His earthly mission and His divine purpose provided Him with the strength to carry on, even in the toughest of moments. Can any of us imagine what it was like to not only dine with Judas, but to wash his feet?
In this last moment with His disciples, Jesus left 4 incredible lessons for us as we seek to walk out our calling as parents of children from hard places – love them to the end.
[highlight]We Must Be Personally Secure [/highlight]
Right before Jesus rose to wash His disciples feet John 13:3 says this, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, rose from the supper table…” We know from Matthew 20:26-28 that in His own Words, Jesus said that He came to serve and give His life as a ransom for many. In those verses, He laid the foundation for true greatness – serving others. In the washing of the disciples feet, even those of His betrayer, He walks out the His own words. His actions exhibit far more than mere humility, they exhibit a personal security in His calling, purpose and destiny.
In order for us to fully love our children to the end and faithfully fulfill our purpose in their lives, we have to be secure in our calling. We must remember that what God has called us to, He will equip us for and that we aren’t alone – He is with us. For me, the security of my calling boils down to a few simple understandings:
His plans for my life are good. Jer. 29:11
My steps are ordered and He delights in me. Psalm 37:23
He goes before me to make the crooked places straight. Isaiah 45:2
God placed my children in my family. Psalm 68:6
He will give my children and me beauty for ashes and joy for mourning. Isaiah 61:3
Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13
My security should never be based on my abilities, instead it should be based on the infinite love and ability of my savior, Jesus. My confidence must come in His ability to lead me, guide me and instruct me in all wisdom.
[highlight]We Must Count Others Better Than Ourselves[/highlight]
In this journey, like in many, pride can become our greatest hindrance. Too often, I watch well-meaning people develop a hero complex when it comes to orphan care. In our desire to do good, we can often step into misplaced roles – viewing ourselves as rescuers of the hurting. We have to be very clear in our understanding that we aren’t, and will never be, the one who rescues our children. That role belongs to God and God alone. We are merely vessels of hope who’ve been given stewardship over one of God’s most precious gifts as He works out His plan for their restoration.
With a proper perspective of our roles in our children’s journeys, we are able to function from a place of love and compassion instead of pride. From a place of compassion that we bend down to meet them on their level and make ourselves available to genuinely meet their needs. This perspective also allows us to view others in their lives (birth parents, biological extended family, former caregivers, etc..) as important and worthy of our compassion and careful consideration. God is the only one who can judge a person’s heart, motives and intention – we must be careful to always act out of love based on humility. In reality, we are all equal and equally valuable in the eyes of our Lord. With that in mind, we’re always called to count others better than ourselves.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3 & 4
[highlight]We Lay Down Our Life For Others[/highlight]
In John 10:11 Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But the hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My sheep, and am known by my own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
As an adoptive mom, this set of verses speaks so deeply to my heart. The Lord has entrusted me with some of his most precious treasures and I am to follow His example and lay my life down so that they can live. I watch so many families forget this as they struggle in dark moments with their children. I understand, I’ve been there. When we’re in the darkest moments, that’s when we must remind ourselves that we’ve been given stewardship (temporary ownership) over our children, as representatives of Jesus in their lives. This sobering reality reminds me often that my role is to give my very life for theirs.
If I give up? What’s next? The reality is, there’s a wolf coming and he wants nothing more than to scatter our children to the winds – to send them far away from the knowledge of Jesus and His love and purpose for their lives. When I see the wolf coming – the dark, hard, difficult, trying moments – I have a choice – to step aside or to stay and fight. It’s a choice of an owner or a hireling. I refuse to give up, because to whom much is given, much is required. And there’s nothing greater that God can give me than stewardship of another of His precious children.
[highlight]We Seek To Serve Rather Than Be Served[/highlight]
In Luke 22:27, Jesus reminds us again of His definition of greatness, “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet, I am with you as the One who serves.” In much of our society, we operate with a hierarchal view – ranks, classes, positions, levels of influence. Yet, in the Kingdom society all of our human thinking is flipped upside down – the servant is greater than the master, the first is last and the last is first. Jesus, the King of Kings, came to serve and not be served. How much more should we become servants of those around us?
Our children are God’s most prized position and our greatest gift. True servanthood is reflected in an attitude of our heart. Let’s walk with soft hearts, slow to speak, slow to anger and quick to love. It’s when we learn to truly wash another’s feet – even when they’ve hurt and betrayed us – that we become great in the eyes of our great God.
There are times that we all face the difficult days, the hard decisions, and the emotionally draining moments that make us want to give up – I know those moments all too well. However, we must remember that as we set out to be imitators of Jesus, we must follow His example. In whatever our calling – we must be faithful, servant-hearted and willing – to the end.
For some us the the end will be a lifetime commitment to our adopted children. For others the end will be the length of placement in our home. Whatever the definition of the end in your situation, Jesus taught us to be wholly faithful – until it is finished.