One thing I've learned about God through the years is that He is lovingly persistent. He never gives up on anyone, and He never "leaves well enough alone", which means He is also continually pressing us into situations where we can grow. Often these situations are ones which call us out of ourselves, which challenge us to serve others, to be His hands and feet, to love deeply and boldly and sacrificially. Today I've invited Ashley McNary to share how God has been growing her in this way.
I have always loved the idea of being able to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I love the picture that we get to actually be the dispenser of God’s love and grace and acceptance. I have been inspired by this idea and empowered by it. And for almost everything that God has asked me to do, being His hands and feet has been an absolute joy.
For awhile we would sing a song at our church that would make my heart beat and my soul begin to stir and I would sing out:
I wanna be Your hands & feet.
I wanna be Your voice every time I speak.
I wanna run to the ones in need, in the name of Jesus.
I wanna give my life away, all for Your kingdom’s sake.
Shine a light in the darkest place, in the name of Jesus.
In the name of Jesus
Yes. I wanted to do that.
Up until about a year ago, about everything that God had asked of me, or prompted in me, I have genuinely been pretty thrilled about. Regardless of whether I felt a little insecure, or unsure, or unqualified, there was a sense that, in doing what He was asking, life and adventure and mountaintop experiences were waiting for me.
And they were. His callings have been wildly fulfilling.
And then last February happened. And God showed us another way to be His hands and feet. It was in an uncomfortable way. In a way that would require true sacrifice. In a way that I honestly didn’t want to do. We were prompted to become a foster family.
I wish, oh how I wish, that I could write something beautiful about this journey for us and that we are thrilled to be stepping into this amazing calling. I have friends who have entered this process and experience with such grace and finesse and beauty. Their heart and passion is astounding and their conviction strong. That is not my journey. I feel like I am clunky and awkward and walking around in a revolving door, never actually leaving the circle I am walking in.
And I am, quite honestly, so scared of being Jesus’ hands and feet in this way. In my selfishness, I want to go back and sing the song like this:
I kind of wanna be Your hands and feet, in ways that I like.
I kind of wanna be Your voice every time I speak, as long as what I am saying will be received well.
I wanna run from the ones in need, in the name of boundaries and safety.
I wanna give my life away, as long as it doesn’t cost me much.
Shine a light in a semi-dark place, in the name of comfort.
And In the name of Jesus
That – THAT – is the real ugliness of my heart. Every step that we take closer to this prompting to foster, I think of a thousand reasons why we shouldn’t. I want to bail. I do not want to be Jesus’ hands and feet in this way. I don’t want to add chaos or uncertainty or loss of control to my life.
I had made a list of cons for fostering:
- tricky season of life with 3 little ones of my own
- I have been officially done with diapers for almost 2 years, do I really want to go back?
- I don’t want more sleepless nights
- How would babysitting work?
- We are finally getting into a rhythm, do I want to mess that up?
- How would we still travel?
- I don’t want to know about all the pain in the world
- I can finally read a book in peace (yes, this was a real source of contention)
I felt that I had a pretty good list. That I was justified in all of my reasons.
But then I read what Jesus told his followers in John 15:12-14:
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.
In the face of Jesus’ words, my “cons list” is nullified. I simply cannot choose my book-reading over Jesus’ command.
See, there are children in MY TOWN who are neglected and abused and feel unwanted – and I have the opportunity to love them and tell them of a God who loves them. There are women in MY TOWN who are scared and don’t know how to love their own kids – and I have the opportunity to let them know that redemption is possible and God’s love reaches far. There is a darkness that is prevailing – and I have the opportunity to shine a light.
So, today we will have our final meeting to become officially licensed foster parents. We will be extending the reach of Jesus’ hands and literally walking in places that we have never walked before. And I am still more scared than I am excited. But like every other calling that God has given – I am feeling wildly fulfilled.