"When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." Dietrich Boenhoffer.
When I first read this in Boenhoffer's book "The Cost of Discipleship" something inside of me stirred. My heart jumped inside my chest. A feeling of excitement permeated my body, but alongside it came an innate sense of fear, quickening my pulse. It is an altogether beautiful and terrifying quote. Boenhoffer refers to the call by the Lord Jesus that "if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23 ESV) How often do we really consider the cost of what Jesus is saying here? That if we are to come after him, which as Christians is the very purpose and goal, to pursue the Lord for His glory, then we are to die daily. And not a death that happens painlessly in your sleep after a long, full, rich life, but a bloody, gory, shameful, tortuous death. That is what the very definition of death on the cross. However, there is a promise in the very last two words of that sentence. If Jesus ended it before the "and" in the sentence, it would seem a very gloomy and terrible calling. However, Jesus said "follow me." When we take up our cross daily, we are following in the footsteps of the One who took up the cross already, "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of God." (Hebrews 12:2 ESV) Christ already defeated sin and death and already purchased His bride, the church, by His blood. Therefore we have nothing to fear when we take up the cross, for while Christ's cross was one of wrath and condemnation, our cross is one of sanctification, making us more like our Creator in order for us to one day enjoy perfect communion in His presence and until that day to grow closer to Him and more like Him.
What does this all have to do with my experiences as a foster dad? Today I was reminded that these children first and foremost are not my own and that while they may call me Daddy and I may fill that role, there is no guarantee that it will be that way permanently. The thought sickens me. Even after one month, these children have captured my heart. But in my thoughts of despair and hopelessness, came the words of Dietrich Boenhoffer. "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." So simple. So elegant, So beautiful. Christ has called Christians everywhere to die to the flesh, to die to themselves, to die to their hopes and dreams. But not to wallow in death, but in order to be resurrected in Christ."Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him." (Romans 6:8 ESV) It isn't wrong to want to love foster children as your own and to treat them as such and it certainly isn't wrong to treat them as if they were to be permanently part of your family. My sin is in the questioning of God's will, thinking to myself, "God, why would it even be a possibility for us to not keep these kids forever? We love them so much and we take such good care of them. We can provide them with a loving Christian home. You can't take them away." The God of the universe has no reason to listen to me and every reason to rebuke my questions, yet He loves me and reminds me that regardless of the future with these kids, I am to love them as God loves His children, to take up my cross and follow Jesus.
"The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5 ESV) This is my prayer for myself and all the other foster parents God has called into this incredibly hard but incredibly fruitful ministry.