November 16, 2023
Caring for Others Through God's Love
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"Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:18 (NIV)
I kissed two of my daughters goodbye so they could make the 2.5-hour trek back to college for their junior year. You'd think I would be better at it by now, but I still cry every time they go.
When I buried my head in both of their shoulders, they told me that they were grateful for how much I loved them and that it meant a lot that I cried every time they left.
I know it's a part of life. My neighbor has reminded me many times that this is what we raise our children for - we love them and launch them. It means we've done our part and gotten them here.
Ellie left her little denim vest at home - I was supposed to sew the shoulders, but I couldn't find my needles, and then I lost track of time. The vest is cut open but not yet put back together, and somehow that seems like the perfect metaphor.
It would be easy for me to camp out in the place where my heart breaks because I feel like I've failed her. Instead of all the ways I've loved well, I can only think of the things I wish I had done better. The hand that held hers for so many years is waving and wiping tears, but the ache is love in motion.
God is with my daughters. He has put people all around them to care for them. They aren't alone on the days when I can't reach them, and that means something. It's humbling to think that in some strange way, they are constantly going from holding one hand to holding another throughout life; they're my children, of course, but they're also part of a bigger family through Christ.
We play both roles in our lives; sometimes we pray for our children to be taken care of, and sometimes we answer someone else's prayer for the same.
One way my family does this is through Compassion. For more than a decade, we have sponsored many children whose families make less than $2 a day. Sponsorship means a mom doesn't have to worry about her children going to bed with empty bellies. It means they can attend school and vocational training, receive health care and nutrition. Most importantly, it means they will attend a local church and learn about the God who knits all our families together in the name of Jesus.
I have had the great honor of meeting several of these precious mothers, and we have never needed translators for our tears. We hug and say "thank you" to each other so many times that we never really know who means it the most.
It reminds me of 1 John 3:
"If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence ..." (1 John 3:17-19, NIV).
We can spend our whole lives talking about love instead of practicing it because there is always a cost to something so vulnerable and profound. But we have sisters all around the world who feel like they have let things split apart in parenting, and all they want is to launch their children well. It is not for lack of love but because of love that they worry. Every now and then, we get the chance to step in and care for someone else, and it's a sacred privilege to join their story.
The reality is I'll see my daughter soon, God willing. In fact, maybe I should just sew Ellie's little vest right up and head down to campus right now. I can be there before bedtime, and we can watch one of our shows and stay up too late.
Or maybe I should just focus on what I can do here and be grateful for someone doing what I can't do there.
I genuinely pray you'll do the same - well, the loving part at least. As for the launching part? Overrated.
Lord, help us to be the kind of people who provide care for those who are in need. Some of them will be in our own homes and in our neighborhoods, and others we will never meet before heaven. Give us opportunities, humility and generosity to help meet others’ needs, and help us live with open hands in every aspect of life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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Please join us in remembering the kids who need our voices, our love and the knowledge of Jesus: Consider sponsoring a child through Compassion. You can find out more here!
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Isaiah 25:4, "They'll see that you take care of the poor, that you take care of poor people in trouble, Provide a warm, dry place in bad weather, provide a cool place when it's hot. Brutal oppressors are like a winter blizzard ..." (MSG).
While God calls us to serve in many ways and in many capacities, what causes or groups of people do you feel most drawn to from a ministry perspective? How can you move closer to opportunities related to them? Share with us in the comments!
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