My friend Mackenzie stopped by for breakfast this weekend, and we sat on the couch under soft blankets in the morning light to catch up. We exchanged stories of the mundane and the miraculous in our lives. Then, she shared an update that struck me as profound. She described how she and her husband are becoming foster care certified to take in pregnant teen girls. These girls are often terribly vulnerable: kids themselves carrying kids and choosing birth. They’ve already faced the unspeakable trauma of entering the foster care system, and many are victims of trafficking.
I pressed her for more about their why, their journey, and their heart in this decision that will change their lives forever.
In essence, she explained, they are seeking to live life right in step with the God of comfort, care, shelter, and justice as described in the Bible. As they have prayed, they have come to believe this is their role in following God’s command to love the “orphan and the widow” – the very vulnerable. The narrative is heartbreaking, and the stories they are stepping into are shattering.
Yet, the conversation made me wonder: isn’t it beautiful how we see God’s heart for the vulnerable over all of scripture? Psalm 9:9-10 has held a dear place in my heart for many years: “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” The Bible speaks about God’s heart for justice over 400 times throughout its narrative. In and out of all the pages, God prioritizes the neglected, the abused, and the outsider. Jesus equates loving the vulnerable (the hungry, thirsty, stranger, sick, and imprisoned) to loving him. Jesus leaves the 99 sheep to find and care for the one lost sheep. As we walk with God right where we are, we get to step into this calling in our everyday lives too.
Mackenzie and I talked about how there is no perfect time for sacrifice, never a time we will want to abandon comfort and convenience. We will always tend towards luxury and ease when we can. What if, instead of moving towards comfort as our lives go on, we orient our lives more towards selflessness, sacrificial love, and holiness? My friend recently shared this definition of holiness with me: “Holiness – the possibility of growing indefinitely in love for God and our brothers and sisters.” What if, as the years go by, we become better at love and better at generosity and better at care for others?
In his book “Live No Lies,” John Mark Comer shares how a million thoughts and decisions shape our characters. Eventually, who we are becoming becomes who we are. There are no big decisions, no big steps – only little steps culminating together.
What decisions do I want to make? Who do I want to become? How can I move toward love and sacrifice and generosity?
Brennan Manning writes, “[Jesus] lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creation. Not to make people with better morals but to create a community of…professional lovers.” I wonder: how can I move toward becoming a person defined by Love each and every day?
One step I’ve found is that I need others to expand my imagination for who I can be. In her decisions to surrender comfort for care, convenience for compassion, and security for courage, Mackenzie has cast a vision for me of what could be possible. I’ve been thinking about it since.
Maybe she can encourage you too?
Maybe, we can together become a community of professional Lovers orientating our lives toward love each day. Maybe, we can do it side by side, linking arms and seeing God’s heart for the vulnerable, for each of us. We would know his overflowing love a little deeper, I think. I would love that.