I love this quote.
I didn't when I first read it. When I first read it, I pounced on it like an internet troll. Does this mean that God is passive, that prayer doesn't work, that what changes in the world is only through my own hands? Pish Posh, I thought. Because sometimes I'm a bit arrogant, and sometimes I'm unteachable.
But there was something about this quote that I kept staring at. Some Truth that was there that I could feel but not see. So I mulled on it.
Here is what I know. I know that I have seen God -- not humans -- do amazing things. Once, God had a judge dream dreams that burdened her heart to release an orphan girl to us to be adopted. People didn't do that. People can't make others dream dreams that stir their heart. But here's what else I know. I know that the more I pray, the more my heart aligns with the heart of God. You can see this evident in scriptures. The Psalms are full of the lamentations, the whining and groaning of David who cries out in his suffering for vengeance and justice, only to conclude in praise, remembering that God is sovereign and one day the world will be remade in beauty and justice. When we pray, we begin to see the world the way God does. It's kind of beautiful.
(Ironically, it's kind of annoying when you want to tell God about how your spouse is bothersome, only to be reminded of grace, of your own failings, of the compassion you've received. Come on, God. I wanted to be irritated).
And then I think about the times I've felt God's presence. I've felt it when I was alone. But you know what? I've also felt it when person after person brought me a meal when my littlest daughter was born. Or when we were trying to adopt our daughter from Kyrgyzstan and some dear friends brought us a giant jar of cash and coins that they were using to save for a vacation, but felt they should give it to us for our adoption. Or when we get this surprise check in the mail when our next adoption payment is due from someone who gave such abundance from their generous heart. One time I needed help moving a piece of furniture and my two neighbors came over and did it all. That's when I felt Jesus' love pouring out on me.
And then this quote came alive for me. The truth of it sparkled and broke through the walls of my heart with brilliance, light and clarity.
It's in the hands of people that I feel the hands of Jesus.
And if you look around, the people who hurt the most, are profoundly alone.
In the city, there are so many people who are alone. -- People who moved out from a dysfunctional family, or aged out of foster care, or left an abusive spouse, or walked away from drugs and addiction, or ran from their home country, or were kicked out of their family, or or or.
When I pray, God molds my heart to his. I go and do because that's what being the hands and feet of Jesus means.
I'm to visit the prisoner. I'm to feed the hungry. I'm to sit with the lonely. I'm to welcome the stranger. I'm to love the fatherless. I'm to take care of the widow. And when I do these things, I'm loving on Jesus. So says the Bible.
We're inching towards #GivingTuesday, and we do have some financial goals to help us grow and stretch to serve more children, more families. But it might be easy to think we don't actually need you. But maybe in the praying, you might find God molding your heart like his. You might find you're ready to go wherever he leads.
"You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. That's how prayer works." -- Pope Francis
Here are some things we're praying for at 127 Place:
* We have people in need. We have people donating goods to help. But we need people to help us get the items and take them to the families and children.
* We have financial resources coming in to meet many needs. But we long for a bookkeeper that can help us demonstrate our finances to the government and donors to show the transparency and trustworthy way we honor these donations.
* We have people who are committing to being Safe Families and Circles of Support, but we need someone to help them administer and gather the paperwork that vets them.
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
When James 1:27 began to have an impact on me, I often left off the last part because I did not think that it fit?
That was back when I thought I was a nice person - which was a result of not being really tested as well as an unbelievable amount of self-deception!!
Then my wife and I adopted, and we were thrown into a fire that we had no idea was coming and that completely overwhelmed us! We learned one thing very quickly: we no longer had time for our former lifestyle! We were in up to our necks and going down fast. The only thing that we had time for was survival! Of course, that did not mean that we stopped sinning! As a matter of fact, we probably increased our sin output! But it was different because we were trying to follow God's lead, and we were going through the refining fire! We were learning that giving does not come out of our abundance. We were forced to give when we had nothing left. Don't get me wrong - it was not a pretty sanctification - it was downright UGLY!
So what does it mean to be unpolluted by the world? Here is my thinking about being polluted by the world in America in the present day:
Our response to the need for fostering and adopting is "What would the impact be on my family?" We don't ask ourselves, "What the impact would be for the fatherless if we don't?" Or even "What will be the impact on our families if we tell them the same thing we have been telling ourselves (see the bullet points above). What kind of Christians will we be molding our children to be?
Before I go too far down the road on fostering and adopting, I want to say loudly that I truly believe that not everyone needs to foster and adopt, but - as the saying goes in the Christian orphan care world - Everyone Can Do Something.
Ray Moore is the executive director of 127 Place and the local program director for both CarePortal and Safe Families. Kelli Moore is the board Chair for 127 Place and the Kyrgyzstan Director.