She told us she didn’t think she could go back.
But there she stood on our church’s stage, holding the microphone in one hand and lifting up letters, prayer cards and gifts in the other to show us what happened when she returned.
The year before, she had traveled to Honduras with a group focused on blessing orphans and she’d shared her testimony then with questions:
How could these little children be so in need? Was there any hope for them at all? Where was God in this? She knew He was there, but it was hard to see.
That’s what she asked then and her heart had been so broken by what she saw there….could she endure the breaking again and return a year later?
Perhaps she shouldn’t go. Perhaps it was too hard, just too heavy, too much, too sad, too overwhelming.
I understand the compelling lure of self-preservation, the way we can choose distance and the safety of objectivity, of statistics, of pictures someone else displays and the testimony that someone else gives without wading into mess ourselves.
I’m willing to engage this far….but no farther.
I am willing to give or serve or care until it hurts, until my heart cracks open and I’m clinging hard to faith when the world beats so hard with evil on the innocent.
I can sit in the balcony of a church sanctuary and tearfully listen as she describes the orphanage facilities, the care (or lack of) for the children, the danger and the hurt.
But she stands there with the microphone and I see the beauty of one who was called and equipped and one who went not once, but went again.
She holds up a tiny pink fuzzy toy, an elephant I think. A little girl with one leg from cancer in an orphanage had given that to her as a memento, “so you won’t ever forget me.” That’s what motivated the gift of her only toy.
And there are other gifts. Trinkets to keep at home on her dresser. Beaded bracelets dangling from both her arms. Notes and cards from children and teens.
They say it over and over in their messages, “Don’t forget me…..Always remember me….”
Children unloved, unnoticed, rejected, abandoned, betrayed, tossed out, sold, used and abused, and what they most want is for someone on this planet to remember they exist.
My own unborn baby kicks and rumbles and I lay my hand on my pregnant belly as I listen to her talk about the unwanted ones while responding to my own very wanted child.
She says the teen girls have one outfit of clothes that they wear every day and I think of the closet bulging already from gifts of baby blue sleepers and hats, blankets and bibs, outfits we oohed and aahed over together as we pulled them out of the bags sent home with us from church.
The beauty of her testimony, though, is that she put her heart on the altar and willingly went back to that place of brokenness, and this time she can say where God is at work, where there was hope and grace despite the pain.
Foster moms tell me it cuts deep wounds in them to love a child and then release him to biological family, but they choose to love anyway.
And I see a picture on my Twitter feed, a young boy about eight years old standing in a store posing for a picture while his adoptive mom clicks the camera. He’s showing off his new clothes and she’s thrilled. Orphaned at one years old, growing up on the streets of Africa and now he is home….chosen….loved, but it’s been a journey.
It’s not that God calls all of us to this same ministry, but He calls some to have hearts willing to be broken.
He told His prophet Hosea not just to marry a prostitute, but after she left him to pursue her lovers, to “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress” (Hosea 3:1 NASB).
God told Ezekiel not to mourn his wife’s death: “but you shall not mourn and you shall not weep, and your tears shall not come. Groan silently; make no mourning for the dead…” (Ezekiel 24:15-17 NASB).
Their hearts broke in obedience.
If that’s God’s calling, then we can trust Him with our own hearts, trust Him enough to obey even when it’s hard and our instinct is to snatch our hands back from the hot stove and cradle our hearts to protect them from pain. We can trust Him enough to go and to go again and enough to sing, “Break my heart for what breaks yours” and mean it (Hillsong United).
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2013 Heather King