Two years ago I watched a video on FB posted by a friend. He was in Asia for a year and had posted his monthly update in the form of a video. Something was different about this video update. I was struck with emotion and was given clarity on a few things that I had been restless about.
My friend had followed God’s call and had gone to Asia for a year to live among people who have never heard the name of Christ. In his video he records students practicing English saying “Jesus loves me.” In other parts of the video he tells stories of how people in the states donated money so that their school in a village could have desks. One segment stopped me dead in my tracks as an unexpected wave of emotion came over me.
Ever sine I became a dad a new perspective has developed in my soul. The bond with my three children has opened a new dimension of understanding. This new dimension is one of unconditional love that I don’t have the option to turn on or off. God created me to feel this way as it reflects His character and love towards me, as well as ALL of His children. I have a new sense of loyalty to my family. Throughout the day my brain sometimes drifts to think of how I would feel if my children were to become very ill, taken away from me, or other terrible scenarios. I don’t know why I think about these thins, but it’s in my nature to plan for the unexpected dangers in life. (Must be the financial advisor in me.) Those thoughts cripple me. My children are connected to me, bonded to my soul. When one of my kids gets sick or hurt a switch turns on inside of me to comfort them, protect them, encourage them, and even get them to smile again. I could go on, but the simple point is that NOTHING can shake the love I have for my children.
Kim and I had a scare with our younger son Cameron. Kim was a few months pregnant with him and noticed excessive bleeding. We decided to wait until morning to go to her doctor to verify that we had lost our son.. That night, while driving home, I broke down and sat on the side of the highway for a few painful minutes. In those minutes I plead with God. Why would He allow us to go through this? Does He not love our unborn son? Why would He create such a strong bond between us only to take it away? When I was done focusing on me, I sought God’s will. I remembered that He loves me more than I love my son. I remembered that He loves my son more than I do. Overnight I sought God’s heart and understanding so that I could go to the sonogram without fear. Though I still had a little I knew for certain that God was still in control an loves His children. I trusted Him. The sonogram showed a perfectly normal heartbeat and Cameron was born months later. The ordeal had a “happy ending,” but the lesson and testimony were built into my heart permanently. There is a special chamber in a man’s heart that is activated when he becomes a father.
In my friend’s video he documents his frequent visits to an orphanage. I have never been to one. The video reminds us, before footage is shown, of Deuteronomy 10:18 (“He executes justice for the fatherless.”) The video then goes on to visually describe an experience of orphaned children getting to briefly feel the love that father’s show their kids. I can’t even write this without tears forming in my eyes. These kids (most) have deformities and other challenges. They are either abandoned or have found themselves without parents. My friend runs around a parking lot with a child the same way I do with my kids.
A strange thing happened at that point. I started to imagine the kids in the video to be my kids. It is strange that I allow myself in isolation to be detached from all the rest of society and live on the island of my own immediate family. All of a sudden I viewed the video in a different light. Those kids did not have earthly fathers. They had no one to create the bond with that I have with my kids. They are orphans. They depend on receiving love, that they were made to receive from parents, from strangers who most times have a temporary involvement in their lives. My friend’s time there has enormous impact, but he is not in their lives for the rest of their lives. Hopefully someday soon they will be adopted by some loving parents who will fill a part of the void left inside of them.
Understanding all of this, I realized something. My tears are not just mere traces of my thoughts for my own kids. They are evidence that the new capacity to love in my heart is capable of extending to kids other than my own. I felt love and loyalty to these kids. They are in need of a father. I pray that there are men in Asia who share my heart and are able to adopt these children and create the everlasting bond. These feelings that I have for these unknown, unnamed children (to me) open my context to view other children the way I view my own.
Matthew 22:39 “The second is this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
We all have a heavenly Father that is sufficient, exceedingly sufficient. I pray for children everywhere without loving parents that God will show His love to them and give them that everlasting bond or identity and love. I also pray that parents are led to offer this love to orphans around the world.
(The title of this post is “Spiritual Orphans.” There is a second part focuses on the transition from viewing children like my own to viewing Christian brothers and sisters as my own.)
Obedience is mine. The results are His.