Once, two women desired to care for children in crisis. They decided the best way to help kids in their community was to become foster parents. The women were neighbors and shared their dreams. Since they had attended college together, got married within months of each other, and already had biological children about the same age, they thought it would be fun to participate in foster parent training together.
Both women lived comfortable lives in a community of candy-colored homes. One volunteered at her child’s school; the other coached her child’s soccer team. One preferred take-out, and the other was a fabulous cook, and their families ate good meals every night. Twice yearly, both families enjoyed a holiday. One preferred the heat and sought out sunny beaches; the other family enjoyed history and turned vacations into learning opportunities. This is to say the women were very much alike. Or so it seemed.
Eventually, they completed training, and each welcomed a child experiencing foster care into their home. It was a difficult adjustment for both women. Their new children had challenging behaviors, unique diets, learning styles and profound cultural differences. The roller coaster of emotions felt by both families was unsettling.
Though both children had unique stories, the commonalities of dealing with the system, their child’s biological family, and the peculiarities of foster care drew the friends closer together. It was the most challenging experience either woman had faced, and in addition to encouraging one another, they each sought God.
The first woman got up early and sat on her couch with her Bible and a devotional nearby. She prayed like this:
Dear God, I thank you that I am not like the people whose children end up in foster care— neglectful addicts and abusers. I thank you that I had the wisdom to wait until I was married to have children and to wait until I was educated to get married! Thank you for keeping me from promiscuity and abortion. Thank you for giving me confidence and security, so I never developed an addiction. Thank you, Lord, for me, others like me, who give more than we take and set a righteous example for others to follow. Amen.
She never got around to opening her Bible that morning, yet she got up from the couch feeling very good about herself.
Across the street, the other woman also awoke early to seek God. She read a passage from the Gospel of Luke that wrecked her, and she knelt on the carpet before her open Bible. She was in anguish over the toll of sin and its extraordinary cost on humanity, but she was particularly grieved over the hardness in her own heart. She saw her pride—and despised it. She also knew about God’s grace and wept tears of joy that she received it.
Oh, she was well aware of the deficits in her foster child's upbringing, and she grieved for the brokenness in the child’s biological family. But Ephesians 2:8 was engraved on her heart. It is by grace I have been saved through faith; it is a gift of God, not a result of works that I may boast. Since grace is a gift based on God's goodness and not human merit, it's accessible to all. She knew she didn't deserve this gift, yet still it was hers. This filled her with hope.
There was much to do today. So many unmeetable needs. In her brokenness, with her limitations and blind spots—how could she do it all?
Sinking into the carpet pile, eyes downcast and heavy with tears, she prayed:
O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.
She closed her Bible and got up, refreshed. She wasn’t confident in her abilities, past or present, but in God, she had no doubt.
And at that very moment—angels above and around looked at each other with wide grins and then in reverence to their Master. Is that what you mean?
His eyes sparkled. And he nodded.
“I tell you, the second mother, not the first, is justified in my eyes. Remember, those who exalt themselves before me will be brought low, but those who humble themselves in my presence, I promise to exalt.”
Inspo: Luke 18:9-14
"Lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles and run with endurance the race set before you. "