Fruit of the Spirit Series
It all happened so fast.
One moment I’m cleaning the garage; the next moment, I’m holding a precious, little one-year-old girl. With close to zero experience with children that age, I attempted to rock her back and forth to go to sleep, but no avail. What do I do now? I look over to see a chair next to the crib. I sit down with her in my arms, and immediately she stops crying. I say nothing and continue to hold her, not knowing what to do. Then she does the most incredible thing – she moves in a position with her head near my arm and looks up at me. It’s at that moment that I knew she wasn’t just looking at me but asking me with her eyes, “Are you safe?” “Can I trust you?” I couldn’t help but continue to stare into her beautiful face as she would turn away, then back at me again as if checking to make sure that she can truly trust me. Then slowly, after one more gaze, she nods her head and begins to close her eyes. Still clutching her mini oranges in each hand with her arms sprawled out, she drifted off to sleep. As I saw her trust me at that moment, a remarkable affection for this child overwhelmed me. Although I barely met her, I knew I would care for her regardless of how long Valerie and I would be with her. It was love, God’s love.
Love is the most powerful tool that God has given to each of us. As a Fruit of the Spirit, it is the first of the nine fruits listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Love is paramount to following the Christian life that having all spiritual gifts without love gains nothing in return (1 Corinthians 13:1-3). In fact, it’s not giftedness, prestige, or knowledge that makes one a Christ-follower; people will recognize the disciples of Jesus by their love for one another (John 13:35).
The word ‘love’ that the Holy Spirit manifests in a believer is the Greek word ‘agape’. This love is that given by God is selfless, sacrificial, and without conditions. In reality, this ‘agape’ love outlines and embodies the ultimate nature of God seen through the sending of His own Son for us: “For God so loved (agape) the world that He sent His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
God’s love was given for us so we can have that same love for others. I realized that as I looked at that baby girl, it was agape love. It was selfless – there was nothing to my advantage to gain (well, maybe a goodnight sleep, but you get the point!). It was unconditional – there were no conditions that would stop my love for her based on what she did or did not do; I would be there for her. Lastly, the love I had for her was sacrificial. Was it because I was spending my time and energy to get her to sleep? No, it was more than that.
Shortly afterward, Valerie and I had to give her away.
The next day I got a call that a relative of hers was accepted as a placement and that she would be picked up in a few hours. I hung up the phone and felt my heart sink in my chest with deep sadness. Why did it have to be that quick? What are we going to tell people, especially those who have bought us gifts? The thoughts continue to race in my mind as I attempt to make sense of what to do.
Yet I remember why we signed up to be foster parents in the first place – we wanted to make a difference in children’s lives by living out the love of Christ to those who are hurt, scared, and in need. There are no limits on how long we should love – we love whether a child is with us for a day or years. Whatever difference we can make, even in the short time we had, that is what we will do for the child, the family, and for the fulfillment of the greatest commandment, “Love God, love others.” (Matthew 22:36-40; Mark 12:30-31; Luke 10:27)
Within 24 hours, we said goodbye to our little one, praying that God’s favor, protection, and bountiful love would be upon her. Although we may never see her again, at least we did what we could while we had her.
But that’s not all.
During the time of limbo between knowing that the social worker was going to pick her up and wondering how I am going to break the news to those who know, I get another call. Unbeknownst to me, it seems that there is another 1-year-old little girl who needs a home, and the social worker asks if we have any availability. Wow… what are the odds? We had been waiting since June for a child and nothing. Within a 24 hour period, we get not one but two calls, and they are both 1-year-old girls… The timing has to be God! We agree to the placement, and shortly after our first girl leaves, our second girl comes in. Now we get another opportunity to be parents and, most importantly, to love another child.
For now, we are taking it day by day, learning how to be parents overnight and all that comes with it. Please keep us in prayer, as it is a steep learning curve! Thankfully, we have a loving community and families who care for us and have shown tremendous support in this transition.
For yourself, think about the agape love of God this week and how that is being revealed in your life as a Fruit of the Spirit. I encourage you to read through 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 to understand the characteristics of what love is. Do not look at it as a list of where you have fallen short, but to challenge yourself to grow in love by yielding to the Holy Spirit in situations that reveal the nature of love. Does God want you to love someone who has mistreated you? (Luke 6:35) Is the Lord calling you to lay down any selfish behavior you have for another? (John 15:13) Are you open for the love of God to move upon you? These questions are to get you started. My prayer for you is that the Holy Spirit will speak to you with His love so that you can love in more extraordinary ways than ever before.
Have a blessed week!