Thursday, March 1, 2012

Broken Fixed, Saved Part 2

Obviously there is no surprise as to what my answer was and we took the boys . . .BUT it was a mistake.

I know, I know you're thinking we are typical Christian hypocrites, saying stuff like James 1:27 but doing something different. I will attempt to explain why it was wrong for me to say yes, but it's not that kind of wrong. I don't think it is ever wrong to take care of those in need . . . maybe, but I will explain that later with an illustration. In general I would say this: just because it is the right thing to do, doesn't mean it is the right thing for me to do. Right now I want to discuss the idea that motive is everything and the truth is, when we do good, Godly things, with an evil, selfish heart it hurts us and the "act" is still good and Godly. Our "act" of kindness, even though attended with wrong motives, was still received as an act of (needed) kindness by those 2 boys. They were the winners in all of this because they got the care they needed, but we were the losers because our hearts were sinful in our hearts. In a way it is kind of like saying to your son "I love to play ball with you . . . . so that you will cut the grass" what you want is the grass cut, not time with your son, for more on this read or listen to Desiring God by John Piper.

Motive is the key here and to no surprise my wife, through prayer, nailed it! She really surprised me when she confessed her sin to me and explained it. I was in agreement with her, as I sinned in the same way. I made the choice (in part) to say yes to the placement because I did not want my friends, family and church to to look at me in a negative way. I did not want to talk a good game all these months about orphans, widows and adoption only to pass the opportunity up and look like a fool. I had trapped myself, but also all I heard was the sadness of 2 boys left alone. Worse yet, and really most prominently I wanted to impress my wife by saying yes, I did not want her to think less of me, like I was all talk (pride) and no action. Honestly I primarily acted solely because I was more concerned about what my wife would think, rather than what God would think. She can't see my heart, but God can and He knew why I made the decision. 1 Thessalonians 2:1-4 To all of you (and Connie) it looked so noble, so pious, so spiritual, so heroic but I knew it was mercenary. So sin #3 I was most concerned with the reward of approval and accolades from Connie and others. This was a hard truth!

My failed leadership hurt my wife and family, albeit for a short time. Why was this a case of failed leadership? Simply because I knew in my heart I should have said no to the worker on the phone "I need to discuss this with my wife and we need to pray about it" we BOTH felt that way, but because we were trying to impress others, we never brought it up. I should have waited and discussed and prayed, for at least several minutes, since we had little time.  Now was not the time to take 2 more kids.  Even after the boys were with us Connie and I both said "I felt like saying no was the right choice". How can this be you ask? How can saying no to something so good, and even commanded in scripture be wrong? Here is where the main tension, conflict and confusion enters.

Even though my wife is fantastic, it is her turn to be thrown under the bus ( I love you sweety, it won't hurt too long, now get under there!). She acted under the same sinful impulses but hers were directed toward impressing God! She honestly was trying to impress God, and show Him her commitment. She wasn't trying to earn or keep her salvation, but she was trying to prove something to God because of what she had said in the past.

Here is where the illustration I mentioned earlier will help, I hope, while reading this think about order of importance. Suppose you are at home and your dog jumps into the plate glass door and shatters it. He gets cut up pretty bad, lots of blood, you scream and your 9 year old comes running to help, trips and falls into the broken glass. In the process of breaking his fall his hands skate across the glass and cut his wrist, deeply. You see the pulsing blood, realize it is an arterial cut grab him and start applying pressure and you call 911 and realize he is losing consciousness, not good. You pick him up and carry him to the front of the house, holding the wound closed while you wait. While waiting thoughts are going through your head, you left your phone in the back of the house but don't retrieve it. As you are waiting your neighbor comes by on his dirt bike, hits a patch of gravel and slams into a phone pole . . . he is motionless. What do you do? Call 911, duh! But where is the phone? Oh no, you have to go get it,and you are able to get it while taking care of your sons wound. You head back and OH MY, you forgot about the dog didn't you? He's dead now because of blood loss and it is your fault because you responded to the greatest need at the time, your son. You dial 911 again and head out front. What do you do now, tend to your lifeless neighbor and put your son down? At this point you must decide what is most important because the run back to the phone really took it out of you, you can't put your son down. Even if you got to your neighbor you only have one hand because you are holding the wound shut. Who would blame you for taking care of your son?

Let me try to tie this to our situation. First of all no one would say that you should have let your son die to save a dog, that was simply to show that saving the dog was an obvious, easy choice, until your son fell. Since your son, as a human, has more value than a dog we save the son. We can quickly forget about the dog when something more important comes along. Now the hard decision about your neighbor who hit the phone pole. Your son and the neighbor are both humans, with equal worth and value to God, so who do you save? However, the point at which you went back to the house to get the phone was the point at which you could have failed.  The most you could do is get back to the house and call 911, nothing more and anything less would have been wrong. Well since we are not God we cannot look at both injured people in the same way! We look at our son with more love, affection and attachment than we do our neighbor. Because of that it is natural to seek the best interest of your son over that of your neighbor. When you decided to keep your son alive, you in effect allowed your neighbor to possibly die, and this is right . . . I think.

Why do I say that? Simply because I was given my son for me to take care of, he is to come before my neighbor, even at the expense of the neighbor's life. Now pause, and think about what I just said. Even as I read and re-read what I just wrote it still feels wrong and maybe it is, so please enlighten me if you think differently. I know that we should love our neighbor as ourselves, but notice the Word doesn't say that we are to love our neighbor in the same way we love our son; that is a special reserved for your son (or daughter). We love in many different ways because we love people, instead of loving their soul (like God does) remember God is no respecter of persons, Acts 10:34-35.

Here is my attempted rationale: The primary earthly protector of my family is me and they must be taken care of first, even if others really need me. (1 Timothy 5:8) That is not to say that we should never help others, not at all, but we ought not help others at the neglect of our families. There are tough value choices that need to be made and we are not comfortable making them, especially when dealing with something as sad as 2 children not picked up by mom. Maybe an illustration from the pastorate will be better and more realistic.

A pastor routinely has to make choices between good and good. He often has 2 very good, very biblical good tasks but must choose only one! Sometimes that one good is his family. How many pastors have destroyed their families because they are off dealing with the needs of his church while neglecting his family? Does God expect a pastor to hastily leave his daughter's birthday party because someone at church is in need? As soon as that pastor leaves his family to tend to a wounded church member he has placed MORE VALUE on the wounded church member than his own family, would you dare say that is biblical? Yes, being a pastor is costly, but your family should not be paying the price. So who should tend to the distraught church member while the pastor is celebrating his daughter's birthday? The other elders! That is why they are there, so the pastor doesn't FEEL like he must respond EVERY TIME. The elders are there to share the responsibility, so that one is not over burdened. The point is, you need a plurality of elders to share the work. And by the way one of the qualifications of an elder is to manage his household well, which means he has to know how to meet his family's needs first. They are his primary recipient of his care and what is left he can share with those in need. The first-fruits of his time, energy and love must be directed toward his family or he is at risk of disqualifying himself from service as an elder.

Keep in mind that we already committed to Terry before the two boys came along and I blogged that the visits would be a strain on us and our family. I should have realized that just like the other elders share the burden, so do other foster families. I didn't need to save the day. Rather I needed to realize that we could not meet the needs of our family, Terry and these two little boys in a way that was effective, appropriate and joyous. I spread us too thin because I acted in what I thought was my best interest instead of my family's.

As God would have it everyone in my family got ill yesterday (2-28-12). I received a text from Connie informing me that she was vomiting, that Mercy was crying because her head hurts and Judah was also complaining about his head and stomach. That left JD to be the cook, teacher and nurse because I was at work. I had planned on visiting Terry, but what was I to do? Connie is tough she could make it, she told me I should go see Terry, that they would be fine laying on the couch. In all reality this was a minor thing, they were sick, big deal, it wasn't life threatening and the animals could eat later when I got home at 6:30. But I didn't like the thought of leaving them at home while I went to visit Terry, knowing that they were sick, barfing and on the toilet! I was torn, so I texted a trusted friend and he said take care of your family they are your primary responsibility and he was right. Furthermore Terry was in good care and not in danger.

I went home after work and did the domestic things that needed done, dishes, clean the kitchen, pick up the house and get food and drink to my sick family. Connie was really sick, far worse than she let on (as usual) the kids seemed to be doing better. Then something happened that to you is nothing, but to my Mercy is something.

Five of her bunnies got out and were running the yard, getting pecked at by the chickens and chased by the dogs. You must understand that despite the fact that there are a bunch of bunnies she knows them by name, I don't know how, but they have names and she has favorites. I really didn't care if the bunnies got killed, but these were not just bunnies, they are my daughter's bunnies. I went outside and the chase began, the fishing net retrieved and the bunnies caught and put back in the cage.

If I was not home the bunnies would be gone, either eaten by coyotes that night, killed by the dogs or simply gone being bunnies in the wild. I know this seems so trivial to us, but it is not because it was a big deal to my little girl and she will remember how "Daddy saved my bunnies", rather than Daddy wasn't home to save my bunnies. Children remember the little things we do and too often as parents we do big things that we will remember and others will see. But to a child the fact that Dad or Mom was there when they felt like something huge was going down is what creates trust and stability. The 5 escapees were nothing to me, but being there for what was a huge event to Mercy was everything to me. Do not quickly dismiss the death of a goldfish that you won at the fair, if you are not there for the little things they will not come to you with the big things. A few years ago I took JD on a job and someone on the job bought him a gatoraide and he still talks about it. I have no recolection of that job, the gatoraide or anything, but he remembers. I know we can't always be there and if I get a text saying the bunnies are out again, well too bad I am at work making money to provide for my family, just as scripture says I ought. The difference is when we choose to be gone frequently because we think someone else needs us more than our family.

With all that said I realize the reality is sometimes we simply can't be there for our family, and sometimes really awful things happen to our friends and extended family that will cause us to miss birthday parties and other special events. But I now know that if I had let the way we were fostering continue like it was going for those 5 days, then it would have gradually been the norm, I (we) would have neglected our children because they are "normal, healthy and adjusted" and the foster kids are not.

I truly believe that God put all of these things in place over the past week or so in order to make sure I knew my priorities and order of importance.

I think I will have one more post in this series, as I still feel like I have not tied it all together. So if anyone actually read this far thank you and please comment so have some feedback.


  1. super daddy, to save the day!...and the bunnies!!

  2. Those were pretty easy tire tracks. Bus wasn't very heavy. Thanks

  3. Anonymous5:46 PM

    When I was about Mercy's age, my dad ran down a wild bunny and caged if for me. Yup, he's still superdad in my old eyes. Just sayin' :) BMBM


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