Wow…great chapter! If you aren’t reading this book, you really should start ASAP.
The first paragraph of this chapter ends with these three sentences in unpacking Ephesians 5:1-2:
“…we’re told we’re God’s beloved children. We aren’t unwanted foster kids. No, we’re his very dear children.”
Foster kids hold a special place in my heart* having worked with them at a summer camp for abused and neglected kids for many summers as well as having some as students. Knowing their intense desire they have to be loved – whether they exhibit that by acting out (sometimes the only way they know to get attention) or clinging to you physically and/or emotionally – it is so sad that I would ever let myself think that God views me as such. Isn’t it funny how sometimes we, as Christians, put ourselves in that place of status? We think that we can never earn His love, we’ll never be good enough, we can only get His attention by acting out and/or being perfect…but guess what? He FIRST loved us. Not we loved Him so He decided to make us part of His family.
Chapter 9 of Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Because He Loves Me goes on to encourage us to walk in love (per the chapter’s title) but the only way we can do that is if we live out the reality of God’s love for us. She goes on to say that remembering how we’ve been loved by Christ is key to our actions and putting on thanksgiving.
What does that look like? She writes,
“Only the knowledge that we’re already completely righteous before Him will enable us to pursue holy living when our kids rebel, our spouses disrespect us, our employers demote us. I can respond in love no, in this difficult time, because I’ve been so loved is the only motivation powerful enough to turn self-serving penance into gospelized obedience.” pg. 148
As I was reflecting back on this chapter, I remembered something that my folks put in the staff handbook for the camp for abused and neglected kids that we could use as a resource for kids who wanted to know about God**. Thankfully, I still have one of these handbooks around and could put my hands on it fairly easily (we just reorganized our filing cabinet!). The funny thing about this is that for as much as I used it to encourage campers, it has always been a powerful reminder to me of God’s love. Yes, I told campers how much their Heavenly Father loved them (in contrast to their earthly fathers) but as I spoke those words, I was preaching to myself. To remind you of God’s love for you, I scanned it – my mom’s label of “Appendix B” and all – and have posted it here for all of [the internet’s] posterity.
If you want/need further reminding of God’s amazing love for you, listen to this song by FFH (the link plays the song twice for some reason but that’s okay)
Long before you took a breath/I took your pain upon my chest
I knew your name, I heard you call/And it was worth it all, you are worth it all
*Ben and I met because of foster kids. Long long long story – that I will write down someday – but basically my mom recruited him to work at a camp for abused and neglected kids that she and my dad ran (and I worked at) and I fell head over heels for him after watching how he acted with his campers.
**We didn’t push the gospel on kids at this camp. We simply gave them a week of amazing memories and prayed that someday when faced with a difficult decision, they would choose the way that made them feel the way they felt at camp. Though we had a Biblical background and used stories from the Bible to tell them that God loved them, there were no altar calls or no forced come-to-Jesus prayer times. The amazing thing is that this organically brought kids to Christ without us having to do these forward things. Seeds were planted and some kids did make life changing decisions at camp. However we, collectively, knew that God would continue watering them and grow them to fruition whether we got to see the fruit or not…