When circumstances are difficult and things are hard, people outside what is happening tend to ask you after these things have passed, "Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?" They asked me that about adopting Cava. Seeing how far he has come and who Cava is now and who he will be, I, without missing a beat, reply, "YES!" But when I've been asked that about more recent events and hosting, I still struggle with my answer. It wasn't easy and it wasn't how I had anticipated or wanted it to be at all, but does that make it any less what God had planned?
One thing we were very keenly aware of was that God had a plan and a purpose through all of this and still does. We may not be able to see that plan clearly, but that doesn't mean that it is not unfolding and that we weren't a vital part of an end result that will ultimately give him glory.
He called us to love. Not in the kind of false imitation of love that one sees in movies, TV, and books. No, he called us to love with a real love. Real love is an eternal act.
C. S. Lewis once wrote, "If you love deeply, you're going to get hurt badly. But it's still worth it." Most of us don't want to hear that. We don't want to hear that something is going to hurt and will do anything we can to avoid pain and suffering. Real love is going to leave scars but its from those wounds that we can most beautifully love others in their pain and hurt.
If Jesus didn't get through this life unwounded, how do we, as his followers, believe that we won't?
Yet that fear of pain should never stop us from moving in acts of love.
1st Corinthians 14:1 tells us, "Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it - because it does." How many of us really do that? To "go after a life of love" is to put ourselves out there: out there where we can be rejected, rebuffed, insulted, mocked, and hurt. Christ was. But it is the only way to bring others to love, to healing, to Jesus.
There's a line in Rich Mullins' song "Nothing Is Beyond You" that astounds me every time I hear it: I cannot explain the way that You came to love me, except to say that nothing is beyond you.
He stepped outside of time to come into human form and die on a cross because He loved me. With Him, there are no degrees of love, there is just love. That love transforms and that is why we need to be obedient in reaching out to a broken, fallen world to let them know that they are loved and of great worth. Only that love can heal the deepest pain, the pain of a world that longs to be loved and craves to be accepted. I have seen this kind of desperation for love at its utter depths in each of my encounters with orphans.
When our host daughter kept saying, "I love you," I finally stopped her and asked her, "What do you mean by 'love'?"
She didn't even take a moment to think. She just said, "A family." She understood in her limited way that a family could be a form of love and healing. Ernestine Schumann-Heink said, "What is a home? It is the laughter of a child, the song of a mother, the strength of a father. Home is the first school, and the first church, where they learn about a loving God." I pray that even for the short time she was here, our Host Daughter encountered and experienced that.
God loved her into existence. Not chance. Not luck. Not mere circumstance.
That same love brought us into her life. That love laid on it on my heart to pray for her every day for two years. That love brought her into our home. That love is an eternal, never-ending, never-changing, never-turning away from kind of love. That is the love that will show her that she is of value and worth. That love alone can reach her when ours could not.
And now she has not only me praying for her, but so many of you who have reached out to us to let us know that she would be part of your daily prayers. That alone is a powerful statement about love. Prayer is an expression of love because it reaches beyond the now to the infinite where our impossibilities become acts of miraculous reality because of a God who loves us enough to move on our behalf to love a child who so desperately needs to know what Psalm 136 reminds us again and again, "God's love never fails," that "His steadfast love endures forever." Or, as the verse in 1st Corinthians 13:8 keeps coming back to me again and again to remind me, "Love never dies."
That is why we must go out there and love deeply. There's a lost world that depends on it.