I am a special education inclusion teacher. Inclusion means different things to different people. You may remember a time in schools when children with disabilities were schooled in a separate classroom, building, campus, or even not allowed in schools at all. Years ago, many children with disabilities were kept away in institutions or hospitals. Today, “inclusion” is the law under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
It states that:
“To the maximum extent appropriate, handicapped children, including those in private and public institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children how are not handicapped, and that special classes, separate schoolings, or other removal of handicapped children from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity or the handicap is such that the education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily” (IDEA).
This law means that schools and classrooms must do everything that they can to include children with disabilities.
Some people, even in schools, believe that children who are different should be given different classes. They do not want “that kid” in their class. They believe that responsibility of the education of those children belongs to someone else. These children are often thought of as a problem. But, I am a special education inclusion teacher.
I define inclusion as an environment that accepts, challenges, and serves all types of learners. This environment is a shared attitude of teachers and students, both typically-abled and differently-abled, that all learners belong and add value to the classroom community.
In 1992, William Great wrote about the value of diversity in schools.
“We will not successfully restructure schools to be effective until we stop seeing diversity in students as a problem. Our challenge is not one of getting “special” students to better adjust to the usual schoolwork, the usual teacher pace, or the usual tests. The challenge of schooling remains what it has been since the modern era began two centuries ago: ensuring that all students receive their entitlement. They have the right to thought-provoking and enabling schoolwork, so that they might use their minds well and discover the joy therein to willingly push themselves farther. They have the right to instruction that obligates the teacher, like the doctor, to change tactics when progress fails to occur. They have the right to assessment that provides students and teachers with insight into real-world standards, useable feedback, the opportunity to self-assess, and the chance to have dialogue with, or even to challenge, the assessor—also a right in a democratic culture. Until such a time, we will have no insight into human potential. Until the challenge is met, schools will continue to reward the lucky or the already-equipped and weed out the poor performers. (pp. xv–xvi)”
This quote used the word “right” several times to emphasize the point that all children have a moral entitlement to a rigorous, dynamic, and meaningful education. This entitlement is a birthright of all children in schools. The thought that “schools reward the lucky or the already equipped and weed out the poor performers” resonated with me. I believe “inclusion” is not so much a special education issue, but a human rights issue. This issue is fundamental to our country’s beliefs that “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” as it states in the Declaration of Independence. Education of children with disabilities should be no different. All children have the right to pursue and be served the highest of quality of education.
Furthermore, as the Declaration states, men are endowed by their Creator. The Creator this refers to is God. I believe His teachings show us the way to inclusion. The Word, written thousands of years ago, can be applied to the issues and problems of our time.
Philippians 2:2-4 gives me an insight into what the attitude of God might be towards inclusion. God says that no person is greater than the other. He commands us to love one another as we love ourselves. He tells us to serve our neighbor. I believe to have a heart for inclusion in schools is to have a heart for Christ. The issue is not about following the law of IDEA. This issue is about doing the right thing, the right thing is to pursue God’s heart for his people.
Philippians 2: 2- 4 says, “Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
God urges us to love one another, work together with one mind and one purpose. He wants us to think of others as better than ourselves and to look out for the interests of others. Should we not apply this thinking to schools in regards to typically-abled and differently-abled students?
We should create classrooms and schools that allow all children to work together with one mind and one purpose. We should create classrooms that consider the interests of all learners. We should create inclusion classrooms.
When your heart changes, oh how you will see they beauty of inclusion. You will see children rise to the occasion and become the hands and feet of Christ in your classroom. The children show such love, such patience, and such understanding of each other. This is why I love to work with children; they show me the best in people. They show me the best in Christ.
My classroom contains all types of learners. Students with “disabilities” are seen as diverse thinkers; creative and beautiful members of the classroom community. My learners care for each other, synergize with each other, and serve each other.
Whatever reservations that you have about inclusion, whether in opinion or in practice, rest assured that when you see to do a good thing in His eyes, you will have success. He will “equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.” Hebrews 13:21.
I have heard that God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.
This is true for you teacher.
For you parent.
For you child.
You may think that inclusion will not work because you have no experience or training. You may think that children are far too selfish and mean-spirited to accept children who seem different. You make think your school does not have the resources or the time. The schedule may be impossible, the funding tight.
“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-30.
When you have a heart for inclusion, you will witness the power of a God uses the weak things of the world to shame the wise. The God choses the powerless to shame the powerful. You will see the importance of the children that he world counts out through His eyes.
7:29 AM: the school is quiet, the hallways are clear, the air hangs expectantly.
7:30 AM: an explosion of life bustles in the halls as 1,000 children make their way to their classrooms.
I am struck with one thought: Schools are Sacred.
More than 1,000 children in one house. Our lives converging in one scared place: our schools. We manage the numbers with class schedules, bus lines, hallway procedures, and classroom routines. But what we are really managing something far more precious, the lives, no more than that, the very souls of children.
Luke 17:1-2 says, “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.”’
When we manage so many children for so many hours a day, things that cause people to stumble are bound to come. But teachers have a holy charge: we must not cause any one of these little ones to stumble.
Teachers hold the power of life and death. We talk for a living. We teach. We encourage. We correct. We witness. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Teachers: you have a sacred calling. Beloved teachers, I am so thankful that each of us has chosen the most noble profession. Snyder is a vitally important place to serve, and many of you do this job year after year with such compassion and servant hood. You are the hands and feet of Christ to hundreds. I am so thankful that our team is bold, determined, and is called. “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:4-8).
We all have different gifts. Some of us are passionate about math or reading, encouraging and counseling, patience and compassion, technology and strategy. We all use our gifts to serve, to teach.
How beautiful you are.
This is a sacred place. I am so honored to serve with you.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Some days I feel like a bad mom. I gripe at my kids for not going to sleep on time when maybe I should take a few minutes to pat their backs until they feel safe and loved enough to fall asleep. I complain when they ask for help to put on their shoes, because I know they can do it on their own, when maybe all they are asking for is connection. I feel frustrated when they make a mess without remembering that they may not have been taught to put their things away, if they even had things at all before they came to live with me. I. Get. Tired. I am a bad mom.
But oh, I try. I have tried harder than ever to be joyful and kind, peaceful and patient, good and gentle. But… I get stressed, mean, worried, impatient, hurtful, and harsh. I am sometimes quick to speak and quick to anger. I am a hit and miss mom. I am a bad mom.
Raising children is hard work! It feels like a losing battle. Today I feel defeated. My face is marred by dirt and sweat and blood. I am striving but coming short again and again. I am stumbling. I am failing. I am weary in my flesh. But my sweet spirit speaks to me of something higher, something holy.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” says Galatians 6:9.
Beloved, do not give up! “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” says Philippians 3:14. I cannot give up. “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day,” says 2 Corinthians 4:16.
I cannot give up. For I am spending myself on a worthy cause. The worthiest of cause. For at best, at the end of my triumph, in this life or the next, I can reap a harvest. A sweet, precious harvest of the beautiful souls of children won over for the cause of Christ. Children whose chains are broken, who lives are set free, who know Christ as Savior and as trusted Father. Children whose names are inscribed in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The end of my triumph is this: when the day of Reckoning comes I might bow on my face before my Father and hear the Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!”
To share in the Master’s happiness. To be a bold soul.
To be a bad mom, but a mom with great enthusiasm and great devotion.
If I fail and fail I will, at least I fail while daring greatly.
"Lord, teach us to pray." The disciples of Christ asked of him in Luke 11:1.
I believe that the human spirit longs to connect to God, to something outside oneself. I believe even when a person doesn't know what to call it, they long to pray. May it be in the car alone after a long day or in a time of grief, a person might find themselves talking into the air with a small hope that they are heard. By fate. By the universe. By God. I know that there is something inside that calls out.
So, "Lord, teach us to pray" asked the disciples. Jesus then teaches his followers how to pray in what is now repeated as "The Lord's Prayer." In that same passage of scripture, Jesus teaches the disciples to pray and ask like little children in Luke 11:11-13. "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirt to those who ask Him?"
My foster daughter, who I will call Anna in this post, teaches me of prayer. She is a sweet little elementary age child who as resilent and joyful as she can be, but who carries a deep sadness that sharply contrasts her vibrancy.
Her prayers are pure, ardent, and fervent. Her prayers are filled with sorrow and petition. She prays for her family to be together again and laments against the hurts wraught upon her. "The sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite heart. O God, you will not despise" Psalm 51:17.
The bible reassures us that God hears her in this.
"The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" Psalm 34:18.
God promises us that our prayers are precious and holy to Him. "Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll- are they not in your record?" Psalm 56:8
Anna has shown me in the moments, in the stillness of her grief, the humanity of a person. A person has a spirit that cries out in longing to connect to something. It grasps for a bit of something higher. It pleads to be heard.
Now, this is a small person I speak of. A child that knows naught of church-speak and doctrine. Not of "Our Father, Who art in heaven." Since she is my foster daughter who I have known for a matter of weeks, I am not even sure if she has been taught anything of who God or who Jesus is. And yet, she longs to pray.
Lord, teach us to pray.
This small, precious person has shown me raw humanity. As a child, she hasn't yet been caught up in the world's soul-suppressing ways. The world seems to want to believe that people are only flesh and bone, born today to perish tomorrow, in meaninglessness and toil all the days of this life.
A child has shown me the existence of a human spirit that cries, "Lord, teach us to pray!"
This reminds me of the scripture in Romans 8:26. "The Spirit helps us on our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."
Anna prays with groans that words cannot express. I believe in the ground-shaking and immense power of her words!
Anna, teach me to pray.
Teach me to to pray like a child, throwing aside my church-speak and my doubt. Teach me to plead before the Father in brokenness, knowing that there HAS TO BE something in me that can connect to something higher, because I can't do this on my own. This child who has no strength of her own to pull her family back together. This child has no will but that imposed upon her and she has naturally reached out in the spirit and clung to prayer as a life raft.
Teach me to pray. Uninhibited. With faith without borders. Desperate and with my whole heart. In a place where my God absolutely has to come through for me.
This is why Jesus loved the children.
Matthew 9:14 reads, "Let the little children come to me."
Matthew 18:2 commands of us, "Unless you change and become like the little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
Beloved. --- To humble yourself like a child is to receive the kingdom of God.
I don't know about you, but I want to see more of Him.
First, teach your children to pray. Then, they will teach you.
"How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news?'" Romans 10:14-15.
The beds are assembled; the sheets lovingly washed and tucked gently into place. The floors are swept and mopped. The decorations carefully selected with intention. An empty picture frame is perched atop a nightstand awaiting to fulfill its purpose. A room crafted with so much meaning, holding hope and anticipating joy but also preparing to bear heartache. A room that has been been paced, been prayed over, had its pillows fluffed a million times and its one lamp turned on just a million more so that I can picture what the light will do to warm the room when a little person calls this room home.
Any mother who has prepared a nursery in the anticipation of bringing home a new baby knows this feeling. How many times do you stand in that room, looking around at four walls and dreaming of the day that you will bring home the sweet soul that you carry? A father who puts together the crib or hangs the decorations on the walls at the direction of his wife also experiences this.
It's paint on the walls, its a lamp in the corner, it's curtains over the windows. It's a crib, a changing table, and rocking chair. But each solid and visual piece of the room helps us to wrap our mind around the fact that life is about to change. A new soul is coming into the world. A precious gift from God will soon be ours to fall in love with.
There is something spiritual in this process, something instinctual. "Nesting" comes from somewhere inside, a holy place where your heart of hearts resides. After all, we are welcoming something of heaven into our place on earth; we desperately need everything to be perfect.
Today as I stood in that room that we have prepared for the children we are waiting to foster, a profound thought saddened me. Jesus, Son of Man, had no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58). His mother Mary was deprived this sacred opportunity to prepare a place for her son.
Luke 2 "2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.)3 And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them."
Jesus, The Christ--my Christ, was placed in a manger. A trough that livestock ate out of! there was no room for the Messiah, our GOD. We know of this story. We've heard it a thousand times and let those words wash over us meaninglessly. This baby was both fully God and yet fully man, and came into this world in such humility and poverty.
Oh Mary, no wonder you found favor with God. You trusted Him so that you rode to Bethlehem with grace and dignity on a humble donkey, with a heart full of who God said you were and not what others must have thought of you. You were pure and holy and brave. All the time you knew Who you carried. You treasured Him in your heart. How much more would you have wanted to prepare a proper place for you baby to rest than I? Even I have the opportunity to hope and make ready for my babies and not even MY SAVIOR was afforded that comfort.
Oh, Jesus. You are so holy and awesome.
"Today in the City of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord! And this will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger" (Luke 2:11-12).
In an instant this evening, I pondered these things, saddened and humbled by their truth. The room I stood in is lovingly prepared and awaiting the arrival of children that I don't even know. Mary KNEW the magnitude of WHO she was to bring into the world, who would have no place to lay His head... Then my Spirit within me spoke softly:
"Truly I tell you, whatever you [do] for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you [do] for me." Matthew 25:40
Yes, Lord. I treasure that. Whatever I do for these children, oh Jesus, I do for you.
He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastics 3:11
How heavily eternity is set up on my heart this morning. I can feel its weight on my spirit. I think that I always carry it around me. It is not something I can wrestle with for a time and lay it down or tuck it away for a rest. I only momentarily distract myself from its impending presence for a time with the busyness of life. But when I rest, when all is quiet, in the slumber of my consciousness as I lay in bed at night, my soul is contemplating eternity.
I believe in the immortal soul. The bible's most famous verse teaches of the immortality of our souls. "That whoever believes in Him will have life eternal" (John 3:16). Over and over the Word speaks of the gift of eternal life. He has set the very longing in our hearts to ponder when we are still. History has proved this point. Since ancient times people have been wondering at eternity, building monuments to the idea, and inventing stories to answer their questions. "And yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end" (Ecclesiastics 3:11).
Even a child can marvel at eternity, as I was a child. It was the thought of eternity that made me put my trust in Christ. One summer night, my father let me camp out on the flat top roof of my childhood home. There in the still and heaviness of the hot summer air, we studied the stars overhead. My father pointed out the constellations and wondered aloud at the vastness of the universe. In that moment, eternity was set upon my heart. I wanted to know this God who already knew me and told Him that He could have all of me. I could not fathom what God had done from beginning to end. A creator so vast, he made the universe in all its glory, yet made me also to know my every detail. "By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth" (Psalm 33:6). Do not let those words wash over you beloved, but encounter them fully. He BREATHED the stars into existence. He SPOKE and the heavens were made. What a mighty God I serve. I feel as if these words are too holy even to write and I need a moment to be brought to my knees before my fingers can continue.
But wait, we go deeper still.
Genesis 2:7 says, " Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." Hear this, He BREATHED into man the breathe of life. The star-breather also with this same power gave us life. And then, set eternity in our hearts.
I exist in one time. The past is behind me and I know nothing of the future. Yet, my soul knows of eternity, to last forever and ever without end. God is not the same. IT says in Isaiah 55:9, “as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts." He is so much more than we can fathom.
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty" (Revelation 1:8). He WAS, HE IS, and HE IS TO COME. He is timeless. He exists in the past, he exists in our present, he is already in our future. Time cannot constrain Him, for He created it. He is above time or our understanding of it. He is not bound by the rules of the universe, which HE created.
Time has alluded humanity, yet we have always sought to understand it. We wish we could go back in time to change the things that are. We study the universe and seek to explain time. Science currently acknowledges four dimensions of the universe, and theories like String Theory propose 10 dimensions or more dimensions that speak to both space and time. Imagine more than our four dimensions. Where the past might be a canyon you can climb into and the future a mountain we can climb up (Interstellar 2014). Imagine that you are not bound by time or gravity or space. This is our God.
Eternity weighs so heavily on my spirit. There is a disconnect between my body and my spirit. My body is only temporary, but my soul is eternal. It longs for eternity, for higher, for deeper, for where it was created to reside. My soul is made of something more, something that goes beyond space, beyond time. A soul is something spiritual, something like God, for we were made in His image (Genesis 1:27). And we are not our own. "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
My souls longs for eternity with Christ. And I need that, for our mortal days are in ruin. Our mortal days we have spoiled with wrong-doing and regret. Oh how I regret some things that I have walked through in this life. I grieve the things that are lost. My heart aches for the things of the past. I can never go back. What songs have been sung, what tears have been cried by humanity wishing that time was a canyon they could climb into. I think my soul knows of more of this than I do. That is why when my heart and my mind sleep, that my soul cries out into time, into eternity, calling out into what was and what is and what will be. My soul knows of eternity and longs for the day that all could made right within it.
God knows of our need for these answers to questions with out words.
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans" (Romans 8:26). My soul does not have words for what it longs for, for there are no words. This is why the Word uses the word "groaning" to describe the lamentations of the spirit; they are of pain and longing in this imperfect world.
I study His promises because I need to know that there are answers beyond the questions I can even ask. I need to know that there are dimensions that He understands and operates within that are beyond the understanding of my insignificant mind, I need to know that God is beyond time. Ecclesiastics 3:11 is my comfort.
"He has made everything beautiful in its time."
I need all my regret to be made beautiful. I need to know that my past and my heartache will be be made beautiful. IN ITS TIME. Time is relative. And I know that His ways are not my ways, likewise His time is not my time. But my soul is eternal, and I hang on the the promise that in one moment, it all will be made beautiful. Love is calling to me across the universe, through the dimensions, through space and time. God is love. He has already made everything beautiful, for He is already there.
Ecclesiastes 3 A Time for Everything3 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. 9 What do workers gain from their toil?10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him. 15 Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account.[b] 16 And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment—wickedness was there, in the place of justice—wickedness was there. 17 I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.” 18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals.19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath[c]; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless.20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” 22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?
"One resounding thought echos in my mind this morning... It's scary to be us.
The people of earth. We walk this land each day never thinking that it could be our last. We put a lot faith in our bodies to sustain us. There is word for the emotion I feel:
Robatosis - The unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.
My heart beats steadily and faithfully each day. Until one day, it won't. Every day reality for us is there are such things are cancer, war, disease, and terrorism. We hope that today, each day, that it won't affect us. Every day I pray a sincere prayer; "God protect my family from evil." And that is what the profound problem is: there is evil in the world.
The Word warns us: "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith" (1 Peter 5:8-9). To know this truth! There is a real enemy roaming this world. All the evil things that happen to us in this world can be attributed to him, the evil one. Many people are fooled into thinking that there is no devil, but I tell you that he is very real. There is a real and literal battle going on in the spiritual realms between good and evil . Ephesians 6:12 says“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” There is truly a battle that wages all around us. We are charged to be "sober minded and alert" waiting in watch for such signs of spiritual warfare.
There is a reason God inspired these words to warn us. Many in these times ask, "Where was God on 9/11?" or "If there was a God, He would have prevented the Holocaust" or mock Christians saying, "Some God that you serve, a sleeping God who allows children to be murdered, innocent people to be cruelly defiled, and extremists to annihilate entire people groups." Some may think that the mere existence of things like rape, genocide, or starvation proves that there is no God and if there was they are appalled that anyone would ever be blind enough to serve such a God. There is a critical error in that reasoning. World, you've forgotten of the evil one. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy" (John 10:10.) We have to know that. The "thief" wants nothing more than to hide in the shadows, inventing ways to destroy us, rip our families apart, and encouraging hate all over the world. And he wants nothing more than for the people of the world to attribute all the horrible things that happen to us to God. Give credit where credit is due : it is the evil one we should blame.
This is why I write: it is scary to be us. We are so defenseless on our own in an evil world, a fallen world. We leave our homes each day in our fragile bodies and walk with a consciousness that this day could hold great suffering and heartbreak. But oh, beloved, He knows this. He must know that it is scary to be us. I hang on to that.
But there's more.
Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Christ Jesus became sin for us. He delivered himself into the hands of evil so that we might have the chance to conquer it. Praise Him that I have that promise and I know that "greater is HE that is in me than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). I need that, oh I need that.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us,who can be against us?32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.34 Who then is the one who condemns?No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?36 As it is written:“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a] 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Yes beloved, "the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy" BUT Christ declares, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). I have to believe this. I need this truth with all of me. The world aches for this truth along with me. How tragic it is that many do not have this peace.
Yes, it is scary to be us.
But I am not afraid.
"Fear not for I am with you." declares my God. "Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Sweet friend, we will have trouble." We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.
I have have always held these words dear since the first time I read them. I love that it speaks to the hidden strength in people, and of their resilience in times of trouble. People are capable of great endurance, and they must be, for times are evil. (Ephesians 5:6)
I have been pondering these words lately as Zach and I are preparing our hearts and our home to receive foster children. I wonder about these sweet little people who are out there, somewhere, hurting. They are being abused and neglected, even this very moment. They may know nothing of peace, nothing of joy. These beloved ones may even have just been conceived and are unsafe in their mother´s wombs and do not yet know of the hardship that awaits them at their arrival. I wonder at these babies, hoping and praying that they will find their way to us and to safety. There are so many, so many, of God´s most precious loves who are crying out in their spirits to be loved and hoping to be rescued.
GOOD NEWS, we serve the God who saves! (Psalms 68:20). God uses His church, which are His people to be His body. Every person in the body of believers has been given special gifts to serve the Father. We are called to be His body, His hands and feet, that love and comfort and serve the people of the world (1 Corinthians 12). Zach and I have heard that call. I know in my heart of hearts that I am called to serve His children, namely the children being abused and neglected here in our area.
Some people may think that in order to serve God that you need to be a pastor or a missionary in a far away country. But God has called me here. His children cry out to Him here. They go to our schools and they live in our neighborhoods. And they need us! In the words of Isaiah 6:8, ¨Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
Amen, send me.
I am so stuck by James 1:27, ¨Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.¨ To read those words! The Lord our God had not called us to only be good people and go about our lives. He calls us to more, to greater, to higher. He asks, ¨Peter, do you love me?¨ Then feed my sheep.¨ I want to feed his sheep, so so desperately.
DEFEND THE WEAK AND FATHERLESS says the Lord. UPHOLD THE CAUSE OF THE POOR AND OPPRESSED. RESCUE THE WEEK AND THE NEEDY; DELIVER THEM FROM THE HANDS OF THE WICKED. Psalms 82:4 writes.
There is such power in the Word. And I believe my God is who He says is. He is mighty to save. I believe His heart is for us. He desires chains to be broken. He wants to break cycles of cursing within people´s families and for their generations to come. He wants to use us to do it. I know we cannot in our own humanity seek to save all the lost, but I can start with one. One child. One life. And a chance to show them that God is good, so good. And He loves you deeply, no matter what your experience has been so far in your young sweet life.
This is why I love J.R.R. Tolkien´s words. Not all those who wander are lost. Though these children may wander the earth, from home to home, carrying their questions:
¨Does God really love me?¨ ¨Am I worth it?¨ ¨Who will rescue me?¨
He. will. answer. them:
¨I DO, YOU ARE, I WILL.¨
They are not lost, because they are the innocent ones. They are not lost because God has them right here, in His hands.
There is promise in Tolkien´s words. ¨From the ashes a fire shall be woken.¨ AMEN, AMEN. We will not allow the fatherless to remain broken. There is fire in them and it will be awakened in the power of Christ. Praise God, FOR GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN ME THAN HE THAT IS IN THE WORLD (1 John 4:4).
Matthew 25:40 "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me."
Mother to True (18 months old) Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Foster Mom Isaiah 6:8 "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"