They took our daughter. Only months old, porcelain face, perfect in every way. The one we held through seizures, blue skin, tiny bottles, and stopped heart beats; carefully feeding her just ounces every two hours, day and night, in hopes to keep her alive.
Her body weight finally went up from three pounds to regular birth weight when the ex-addict social worker snatched her from our sight.
No warning. Not even time to pack her bags.
Grieving seemed to swallow us alive...until we answered another call. Another preemie, suffering from the same kind of drug withdrawals, sitting in the hospital, waiting for a foster family to take her. Without even praying, we shout, “yes”, like wide-eyed children not even thinking through the consequences.
We try covering up heartache with another face, instead of dealing with the pain and accepting the reality of ministry...life isn't always picture perfect.
Her high-pitched cry was heard all the way down the hall from the NICU when we entered the hospital. Nurses plopping her in our arms, pushed papers quickly at us, so that the fragile state of the Care Unit could return to its silent state.
And in that moment, I think my husband and I both knew, we had just stepped outside of God's grace by making the decision to take this child without getting His permission first.
We learned a lesson in the days to come that ten years later has still stuck with us...not just as foster parents, but as leaders...as Christians. Another man, like us, was told to wait. Saul was a King on the verge of the Philistine's invading. His men had begun scattering. His emotions became frayed. He eventually led an offering, instead of waiting like Samuel had instructed Him to. (1 Sam 13:7-8)
Saul led when he was supposed to follow, charged forward when He was told to be patient, trusted his emotions instead of waiting for the blessing. (1 Samuel 13:9) And can't we all be like that sometimes when following God; letting our feelings dictate our actions, instead of waiting and trusting God?
All great men and women in history who not only did great things for God, but maintained their ministry, learned early on, never to lead but to listen for God first, then follow. So, how do you discern God speaking?
Listen, wait, never act emotionally, give time for confirmation, and only walk forward if He is leading. Every second with this second baby was excruciating, not because of her non-stop cries or physical frailty, but because it was as if God had taken His hand off of us and was saying, “You want to lead...then go ahead. Good luck”.
What we learned from our own rushed decision was...Any ability in us to accomplish any good works only stems and originates from God.
King Saul ended up losing his anointing and eventually His crown. However, the following leader King David, talked constantly with God through prayer.
David repented after sinning, praised God even when blasted or persecuted, He listened and walked willingly in obedience, even when he hoped life might bring about something different. Ten years later, we still refuse to take a child without waiting, praying, and listening for His, “yes” before obeying.
We have learned, no ministry is sustainable without continual communion, attentive listening, and wholehearted surrender to God first. Do you want a ministry that is unstoppable? Go to God first and hear His call before you follow, walk as Missional Women only where He is calling....and like the one after God's own heart.
Though born, raised, and still living only miles from where she grew up, Jen's heart lies in the nations. Jen loves the beautiful tapestry found in the wide diversity of people, different cultures, and all nations. Jen and her husband have been married twenty years, and have parented fifteen kids and counting; twelve foster, one adopted, and two bios. Her multi-racial family reflects her passion for unity, desire for faith without walls, and missional mindset to share both the gospel and the power of redemption to a world desperately needing the hope found in Jesus Christ. Jen and her husband have led in a variety of ministries; including prayer, small groups, children's, and women’s. Jen advocates for the orphan as a board member for the non-profit, A New Song; and loves doing missions work internationally, along with her family. You can find Jen writing about faith, while challenging her readers at her blog, Rich Faith Rising, as well as at tweeting faith-filled messages @Jen_Avellaneda . Jen is also on facebook.
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