We would be rich if we got just one penny for every time we heard someone say to us, “We could just never do what you do.”
Or “We would love to do something about the orphan crisis; we just don’t know WHAT to do since we know we’re not called to adopt a child in this season of our lives.”
Or “What can we do to make a profound difference in the life of an orphan? Everything we consider seems so small compared to the overwhelming crisis we read about regarding orphans in the world today.”
Just last week I sat at my dining room table with a dear friend. She’s a mama to many beautiful children and has a huge heart that longs to do more for orphans (or any other ministry on her heart).
“Sometimes it just all feels so overwhelming and I don’t know where to even begin, Adéye,” she poured out her heart.
I could completely relate to my friend. On most days I feel so deeply burdened by the things I see and the little faces who stare back at me from my computer screen. On most days I get many pleas for help. "This one is running out of time fast…can you help?" "This one is living on borrowed time…can you help?"
Some days it all feels like one huge nightmare that is spiraling downward fast!
And I fall into my bed late at night begging the Lord for His return once again.
I returned from Bulgaria exactly one month ago feeling completely burdened. Spending two weeks in our children’s separate orphanages there left me feeling like I was standing before all of the sea sand on the planet...and picking up one tiny grain at a time. Yes, we are bringing home these two precious ones. And yes, like the poem about the starfish, it absolutely DOES matter in the lives of these two children.
But I could not help but feel like it wasn’t enough. Like we were desperately failing all the others. The faces of sweet children, who I know I will have to leave behind someday, still haunt me.
I close my eyes, and I see them.
I wonder, “Is he still alive?”
“Is she still walking around with her hands tied behind her back in restraints?”
“Is he still crying inconsolably from sheer pain?”
So often in adoption circles we use a very well-quoted scripture.
In the 25th chapter of Matthew, Jesus said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
I love that Scripture! I have read it hundreds of time. And every time I read it I am reminded, obviously, of how important it is for the body of Christ to be taking care of the weak, the lonely, the hurting, the needy, the widow, the orphan, the destitute, and the downtrodden.
But recently, something different has struck me.
“WHATEVER you did…”
The Scripture doesn’t say, “When you have gone and adopted four children with profound special needs…you did it for me.”
Neither does it say, “Once you have gone on two overseas mission trips and made a huge impact in the lives of hundreds of children in a heinous orphanage…then you finally did it for me.”
Nor does Scripture say, “Go out and find fifty hungry people to feed this afternoon, and only then will it be for me.”
No, Jesus made it so simple for us to follow what burned in His heart.
WHATEVER you do…
Whether you ARE called to grow your family through the blessing of adoption and have a multitude of children from all over the world in your home.
Or whether God puts it on your heart to support just one orphan monthly through a relief organization.
Whether God calls you to pack up your entire home and relocate to a Third World country.
Or whether He whispers to your heart, “Do the fostering classes and open your home to one child whom I have already chosen for you.”
Whether God tells us to sell everything we have and give it all to the poor.
Or whether He burdens us to clear out our overflowing closets to help the little girl in school who only has one pair of shoes…
WHATEVER you did...
“You did it for Me!”
How freeing! How amazing to think that just the smallest, least noticeable thing that we do for the sake of expanding the Kingdom of God on earth is HUGE in the eyes of Jesus.
“Whatever” can mean anything….
When we sow our little ten bucks into the offering to benefit an orphanage in Somalia because that is literally all we have to give that month—even when it feels so puny….
That’s our whatever!
When we make a simple meal for a family who has just arrived home with their three adopted blessings—and it feels like nothing by comparison to what they have done for the Lord…
WRONG! That’s our whatever!
I think we live in a culture and a society where the yard stick by which we measure success, wealth, comfort, and sadly, our giving too, is just way too darn high! Everything we have, and everything we do, HAS to constantly be bigger and better. Keeping up with the Joneses has never been as time consuming and costly as it is today.
Just a few days ago, the iPhone 5 came out. I was shocked to see people literally lining up outside stores hours before the big release of the new, more streamlined, slightly lighter phone. Dang! What’s wrong with the 4S that just came out? How in the world can something become a technological dinosaur in a matter of mere months? It’s crazy! Yet, we just have to have it…at any cost.
Sadly, I think we have transferred that bigger and better mentality onto the way we give, the way we help, and the way we measure “success” in ministry. It's a go-big-or-go-home world we live in. For goodness sakes, people leave churches daily because the pastor doesn’t notice their amazing gifting nor give them a platform to make it grow into something ginormous to bless the body of Christ!
Yet, Jesus had twelve.
We dream of the huge house with the expansive yard.
Yet the Son of man had nowhere to lay his head. (Matt 8:20)
We put our five-dollar bill into the hands of a homeless man…feeling ashamed that it was not enough.
“But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:42-44)
“WHATEVER you do,” saints!
It breaks my heart when people write to me saying that all they have to give a certain family desperately in need of finances to adopt their child is just five dollars (sometimes even less!). They feel bad that it is all they have and wonder how the Lord can possibly use it! You know what? God loves their five dollars far more than he loves the huge amount of money given out of some sense of obligation! His Word tells us that He loves a cheerful giver!
ALL we are called to do is give and do what God asks of us, and do it cheerfully…nothing more, nothing less!
HE is the multiplier of the money we sow. That’s His business, not ours. All He requires is for us to give what we are able to give, what He puts on our hearts to give…and watch Him grow that small seed into something so beautiful, so amazing!
You just have to read stories in the Bible to know that God wants to use ordinary people who feel like they have nothing to offer to display HIS glory!
It’s NOT about us! It’s all about God using average, less-than-perfect human beings to BE the body of Christ so that HIS glory can shine into the darkest places on the earth.
I have a sweet friend. She is not rich in earthly possessions. She trusts the Lord for her daily bread. But D has found her “whatever.” She makes adorable headbands and photo frames, and she gives them to any adoption auction I tell her about. She longs to help. She wants to do something.
D is making a profound difference! Even though to her, it sometimes feels so little. Her offering is so beautiful to the Lord!
What a deep, world-changing impact we could make on earth if every member of the body of Christ simply did what God puts on their hearts to do.
Whether it is huge…
When every part of a body does what it is supposed to be doing, it just works. Perfectly.
How wonderful would it be if we took our eyes off the world’s standards by which we measure our giving, our doing, our ministries, and our offerings…and simply took what Jesus told us at face value…
“Whatever you do for the least of these, that was me, you did it for Me!”
What’s your “whatever” today?
Mine is to listen carefully to His still, small voice leading and guiding me and whispering to my heart when there is a need…
Even on those days when I feel like I am standing at the ocean picking up just one tiny grain of sand at a time and failing miserably...