foster care · Meditations

The Wisdom in Feeding Lambs

Last Monday, around dinner time, I got a call from our former case manager, who had represented our youngest foster child for over a year. She was calling about a baby that had been taken into protective custody that day. They did not have a home for him that night and she wondered if we could take him “for a night or two.”

I can’t share much about him, other than to say he’s a premie and he’s very fragile. The “night or two” has turned into “indefinitely.” So for the past five days, we have had, in addition to our three kids, a newborn premie.

Needless to say, I have not had time to think about a wisdom verse this week, let alone write a meditation to share. So there is no wisdom post this week.

But I do have a verse that has been on my mind, and I wanted to share it for you to meditate on. Were we looking for another child? No. With three kids ages almost-eight, two-and-three-quarters, and fifteen months, we already had our hands full. The addition of a newborn premie has been doable and covered in God’s abundant grace, but it has made life more challenging.

But here’s the simple hard fact: there are not enough foster parents for every child who is taken into foster care. So those of us who are licensed foster parents get called. Even when we already have a full house. Even when our resources of time, attention, patience, and sleep are spread thin. We get called because when a child is taken into protective custody and placed in foster care, they must be placed with a licensed provider.

We could have said “no.” We say “no” several times each week. But this time we didn’t. My husband and I both felt led to say “yes.”

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17 ESV)

My decision to become a foster parent is deeply rooted in this text. If we love Jesus, we will feed his lambs, tend his sheep, and feed his sheep. Theologians have spend years upon years discussing who the lambs and sheep are. If you ask me, the children who have been abused and neglected and then taken from their parents and placed with strangers certainly must be among them.

I’m not sure if I’ll have the capacity to write a wisdom post next week either. We’re waiting for this little fella to find a long-term placement, and that could take a while. Meanwhile, we are doing our best to love him, feed him, and tend to his every need, from nutrition to affection. We want to see him get fat and strong!

On second thought, maybe this is a wisdom post after all. On the surface, taking another child right now might look “unwise.” It may look like we are taking on too much, overburdening ourselves. But when we follow the One who is Wisdom Herself, isn’t it wise to spend ourselves in the work of feeding and tending those who need God’s love most?

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If you have ever considered becoming a foster parent, please visit this web site to see about next steps. I cannot emphasized it enough: there is a desperate need for licensed foster parents throughout our nation (and in other countries, I’m sure). If you feel even a smidgen of inkling to look into foster parenting, I hope you’ll do it. And I hope you’ll do it soon.

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One thought on “The Wisdom in Feeding Lambs

  1. Thank you for your efforts in sharing your experiences on a faith journey that is, in my opinion, inspiring. Often I am challenged with what it means to grow spiritually, to be useful for the building of his kingdom, and just plain make sure I’m not the same Christian I was a year ago….

    Fostering is close to my family although my wife and I have not been a part of it. Our niece has suggested in the past that we consider it, but it seemed to us at the time that our cup was full. Your plea is indeed important and I would hope that the seed of “feed my lambs” will grow in the hearts of your readers.

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