I can count on three questions to be asked in every panel and training:
How hard is it really to let go?
How are your own kids impacted?
How many success stories have you seen in your journey?
That final one, it’s my trigger.
I reply, What do you consider success?
And always, the tears silently fall.
I don’t have one. You’ve got to redefine success.
Blame our culture, society, or the Americanized Church… I’m not sure.
But we’ve somehow qualified our efforts of ministry with a dependable outcome.
But obedient ministry does not equate success in the world’s terms.
Whether we care to acknowledge it or not, we want so badly to plug our faithfulness into an equation.
If we pray the listed prayers and have our children memorize the correct verses, our parenting will produce godly children.
And if we take them on missions trips, that’s the icing on top. They may just end up in Africa….missionaries.
If we make ourselves available to our husbands and daily pray for them from our knees, our marriage will be blessed.
The only problem is…some of the most godly mothers I know, are crying out for their wandering adult children from their knees…35 years later.
And some of the most faithful and devoted, prayer-fighting wives…are begging God for their husbands to repent…even after he’s left.
If I showed up to my ministry of being a wife, a mother, a friend, a foster mom tomorrow because I was guaranteed a profitable return here on this tangible earth, I would be left desperately aching.
Do I hope for it, pray for it, strive for it with all that I am?
Do I stand for it, believe in it, and know that He can accomplish it with all that He is?
Even more so.
But do I recognize that He is sovereign in the petitions He answers with… Not Yet…and even…No?
Do I increasingly grasp that perhaps success is not the trophied finish line, but the faithful fight of today and the obedient response asked of me in the tomorrow?
Is there an abiding realization that His accomplishment is already complete in me as He sees me as His own Son, and my merits are simply an offering of praise…each step in this race of endurance?
So if you ask me how much true success I’ve seen in our ministry of foster care, I’ll smile and tell you through steady tears, abundant success, but not what you would expect.
I’ve seen parents show up when the world was stacked against them.
I’ve seen mamas stand in brokenness when they have been stripped of all dignity.
I’ve see social workers answer the call in the dark hours of the morning, day after day.
I’ve seen children, survivors, forgive when they don’t even understand what that means, and love with an unconditional love I can’t even comprehend.
I’ve seen foster parents with open arms and broken hearts, obey through tears.
I’ve seen the Church respond to the Call to Rise up.
And, more than anything, I’ve seen my real mess exposed, so that I can meet the real Jesus again and again.
My Friend, that is success.