long obedience in the same direction

Here’s an excerpt from my post over at Of Dust and Kings today (go check out the full post if you want the rest):

Christ, who holds all things together, offers Himself to be savored and then promises to make us look like Him.

My parents didn’t know just how narrow the gate and hard the way would be as foster parents, but they didn’t sign up for a short spasm of passion that they could forget after a while. My parents signed up for the long and tedious work, committing to trust God’s grace to light the way for their next step on the hard way. They aren’t doing it perfectly, but they are daily looking more and more like Christ.

If you want to hear Gary Haugen’s talk from The Justice Conference that inspired this soapbox of sorts, check it out below. The last few minutes are worth watching, so if you only have a bit of time start from 41:30. You won’t regret it.

I wrote previously about my parents’ experience here: “mid-life: exchanging crisis for calling” and here “the opposite of mid-life crisis”.

mid-life: exchanging crisis for calling

When I left for college, I thought I was joining the ranks of “students” – a thoughtful army my parents had already been a part of and had since graduated from. I was going off to learn so I could approach “real life” with the right information, equipped with the tools for a career. I thought that being a student was a phase and not just in an academic sense.

My growing up years are replete with examples of spiritual mentors and faithful witnesses who crowded around to pour light and truth into my self-centered soul. In many ways, I looked up to these folks because they had been through the “student” phase and seemed to still have their wits about them on the other side. Not that they ever encouraged my thinking that they had “made it,” but in my ignorance I believed them to have arrived somewhere I hoped to soon be.

As it turns out, God never intended us to stop learning (please, no jokes about it taking me years to figure this out).

This is part of our sanctification – humbly adopting the title of student. When we stop pressing on to know the Lord in a deeper way, we have said “I know it all,” which is nothing less than a lie. God has designed the refining process to draw us into a greater knowledge of Him, a greater dependence on Him, and a greater satisfaction in Him. Being a lifelong student is the best kind of blessing there is when your subject is the Creator of the universe!

I remember having conversations with my parents while I was in college and many more since, where I shared inspiration about the light bulbs turning on in my head. Their responses were not, “Mmmhmm. Good, glad you’re learning that” but rather, “Now, that’s interesting. I wonder if that also applies…”

A giant light switched on when I realized I was learning WITH my parents and not to catch up to them.

I’ve never seen their pursuit look so different from the world then right now. When their peers look for worldly pleasures and social science studies reveal what they should be doing and desiring, they are venturing into wildly unknown territory.

Because they love their Lord and treasure Him, they are exchanging a mid-life crisis for a mid-life calling. Yesterday, they officially invited Sadie and Sierra into our family and into their home. Their bags had been packed for two weeks, before they even knew the destination. Yesterday they moved into the room above the kitchen I called my own for several years of high school. And now I’ll call them sisters.

Sadie and Sierra getting cozy in their new room (my old room)

As my parents are clinging to promises they have taught and studied for years, they are challenged to believe the promises hold power enough to be strong when they feel weak. And I’m sure they feel weak and ill-equipped and even awkward about the transition, but there they are in the midst of it.

I can’t tell you how much my love for them has grown as I watch them lean into the Lord. And as I see the Lord sustain and sanctify them, I can’t help but love Him more as well. What a beautiful Savior who looks after the lost and lonely and finds them refuge.

My heart is full for these two young ladies who will change our family forever. I can hardly wait for thanksgiving to come so I can count them as blessings around our family’s abundant table.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

See the first in this mid-life series: the opposite of mid-life crisis as I look at what it means to always be in the life development stage called “sanctification.”

the opposite of mid-life crisis

Some couples graduate into their 50s and revert back to their adolescence. Isn’t that what a mid-life crisis is? You know, extravagant spending and adventures because it’s “all about me” and I’ve got to a have a cultural norm to explain it?

Vomit car exhibit two

I know, I know.
I can’t possibly empathize because I’m in my late 20s and I don’t understand how practical and mission-minded expensive motorcycles are. But, I have a reason to pick this middle life bone. My parents are having the opposite experience. They would never tell you that, so I’m going to.

My parents have hearts the size of Texas and they are constantly looking for ways to grow them even bigger. Recently, my mom sent me a text that said, “What would you think of us fostering two freshmen girls?”

She had to expect my response would be, “Yessssss! Of course!” I mean, as a sophomore in college I sent my parents pictures of children who were awaiting adoption in the state of Iowa. Clearly I would be in favor of the idea, but I’m always in favor of dramatic life changes if they are in the direction of ministering with the gifts you’ve been given.

Then I talked to my dad. He was counting the cost – thinking about how his house would change and family gatherings would be different. He was thinking about curfews and possibly inviting two people to be part of our family forever. He was considering his role as protector for my mom who has spent herself in giving to others. He was counting the cost and it made me consider the magnitude of the life-altering adjustment.

I heard my dad’s prayer requests for unselfishness. I heard my mom’s prayer requests for these girls to have a future. I heard both of them ask for hearts enlarged to fit God’s purpose for them at this stage in their lives and I’m humbled.

My parents will never tell you they’ve got it figured out, because they don’t. Their lives are evidence of their humble posture toward what God is calling them into next. I count it truly a privilege to learn how to love my Lord better alongside parents who are doing the same. This might be the best lesson they are teaching me.

The opposite of a mid-life crisis is getting intentional about serving others to the point where it hurts… it means adjusting your life in a way that’s painful so that others might benefit. There’s never a stage in life where you arrive and can say, “At last! Comfort and relaxation and vacation.” That is not a life stage in God’s development plan for your holiness. It just isn’t.

The beauty is that the pursuit of holiness – the forever life stage – is also the most rewarding and satisfying way you can choose to spend your days. That’s not my guarantee, either.

“In His presence is fullness of joy and pleasure forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

let LOVE fly like cRaZy