Yesterday I met with a friend who happens to be Russian and for the first time I was able to really communicate with Vika. It gave me a lot of insight and it was helpful in the most unexpected ways, too. It really confirmed what I felt like God was asking of us- and what He wasn’t. Brian and I are crystal clear and on the same page about it and for that I am thankful. But we should have know that- He already said "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21). Remind me never to doubt Him.
We have learned so much more in the past 9 days than we usually learn over several months time. And it’s not at all what we thought we would be learning. It’s a very different thing to love and invest in a teenager- especially one who has years of living as an orphan behind her. It often doesn’t come naturally and it takes lots of understanding and effort to see things through her eyes. Just for one example, she doesn’t recognize that we are a family unit. As Brian said, she just sees us as people who all live in a house. She is very vocal about the fact that she loves Mama, Papa, Kayla, and Gavin. Because when you have not known what “family” really means everyone is an individual. For the most part Aiden is oblivious to the fact that she merely tolerates him because he is young and doesn’t know any better. Isabella, on the other hand, feels every bit of it and wears it on her face. So Sunday after church everyone ate lunch and then Isabella and I went out for some much needed “Mommy-daughter” time. We bought groceries – because lets be real- Mama doesn’t actually have any free time- but first we talked over ice cream. I reassured her of her oh-so-secure place in this family and we got to talk about why we wanted Vika to come in the first place and what it means to love like Christ loves. She is my most sensitive child and yet so eager to try and love like Christ in the face of rejection. And I think she is doing a pretty fantastic job of it to only be 10. Actually, I think she is doing a pretty fantastic job- period.
Vika is a sweet, precious girl but there is so much she still has to learn about love and family. God has put her in our home for seven weeks and that means we have been given some big challenges and also an awesome opportunity. I don’t believe God ever does anything without some eternal value, and I think we are beyond blessed to get a part in that.
The thing that has helped most has been seeing other people come to stand beside us and help. God has been faithful every step of the way.
And the majority of the time that happens through other people. A couple of friends gave us clothes their girls’ had outgrown- which fit just right and relieved what would have been a big financial burden on us if we had to purchase all those things. We had purchased a few things already and just a few things adds up fast. Of course, we should have already known He would take care of that, too because in Matthew 6 He said “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (Matthew 6:28-33). Yeah- that is me- the "you of little faith" part. Remind me to trust Him.
Another friend sat down to translate so we could communicate, helped us get tons of Christian music in her language, and even the Bible on audio so she can understand it. She let us borrow good movies and helped us find a place to get good books (that I never would have found by myself). Another friend offered up her place if we want to take Vika away for a couple of days to experience her first ever “family vacation” while she is here. Saturday my mom brought crafts to keep all the kids entertained while we sat and talked and stuffed our faces with chips. Others have prayed and sent notes of encouragement at JUST the right moment. This weekend I had an hour to sit with sweet “sisters” and pray together and talk about joys and struggles—and that my friends, is priceless. Sometimes even to be able to listen to someone else’s honesty about their own struggles reminds us it’s ok if it’s hard sometimes.
And the most amazing thing is- that with each of these people it appears as if they are really convinced these are small things. It is as if they don’t know that is just what we needed that day to be reminded that we are not in this alone. To remind us what we are doing here and to remind us that we are just one part of the body of Christ- because let’s be honest- we couldn’t handle the responsibility of being more than one small part. There are things we want to invest that we simply couldn’t do by ourselves. And there are days we feel our own frailty and shortcomings. When the demands start before the coffee does- a little encouragement goes a long way.
And the lesson is this: that we are ALL called. And “called” doesn’t mean what you think. Some of you will be called to go to foreign lands and share Christ with those who have never heard the Gospel. Most of you probably won’t. But you are still called. If you belong to Christ He has a purpose for you in every day. Only He knows what that looks like. Learn to cling tight and listen for His instructions. But don’t miss them because they sound insignificant or don’t make sense to you.
Somewhere along the way we bought into the lie that we only serve God when it looks “big”- when it involves great sacrifice. And yes, Jesus may very well ask us to sell everything and give it to the poor- that’s Biblical, folks. Sorry!
But He could just as easily ask you to send a friend a note of encouragement. Or He may tell you who needs those clothes you just cleaned out of your kid’s closet. It may be feeding your friend a fruit smoothy and giving her an hour to talk – or even- to NOT talk. It could be a meal, a note, a call, an invitation. It could be taking cookies to that neighbor you wouldn’t recognize if they were standing next to you in the grocery store line. I mean, seriously- our neighbors- they have souls.
And then there are the orphans. And we are suppose to care for them. I have seen estimates that there are anywhere from 143 million to 160 million orphans in the world. No one will serve them all. But we can all serve. Some will adopt, some will host or foster, some will donate money or time. Others will pick up the phone and call a friend who is doing one of those things and ask “do you need anything”?
Because here is the thing- it all matters. And if you want to love there is a good chance that the person standing right in front of you needs it. God has given you exactly what you need to fulfill your call. It won’t be comfortable but it won’t be impossible. And it WILL be rewarding.
So what is it He is prompting you to do today? We will never know unless we take the time to sit and listen- and the answer might just surprise us.
Because it all matters. And the most radical kind of obedience is not the “biggest” or most showy.
It’s the kind that shows up everyday.