You’re not an orphanRich Stigall
By: Brian (serving as a GO Fellow in Haiti)
The past two days we have been visiting Global Orphan villages working on Child Profiles. Our task is to match the information we have on the children with what is in their file and what is current. This requires working with the social worker for each village and having a translator to read the files for me and help me answer the questions I need to complete the profile. Each child has their own profile which answers where they are from, who their family is, their reason for admission, their birth date, date of arrival, etc. It didn’t take long for me to go into task-mode and I was soon cranking out the profiles alongside my coworker/translator Odines. This task was more time consuming than we anticipated as each file looked different. Some files provided straightforward answers to the exact questions we had. Other profiles were more like short stories written on the child and would require us to take time and read everything so we had a full understanding of the provided information. Some stories were similar to each other in the reason why the child had come into the care of the church. Other stories were not as similar and caused us to pause before moving on. As easy as it was to get caught up in the task, we were reminded that these are the stories of children, living and breathing children who were running and playing right behind us. Some stories were quite unfortunate and reminded you that this world is broken in its inability to provide even for a child. Some stories were more difficult to swallow as we read the heartbreaking facts of a child’s life before they came into church care.
As we were going through these stories I began to struggle with the fact that, though I often interacted with these children, I hardly knew them at all. It was only because of my work that I had gained what little information I knew about them. The difficult aspect was that some of these kids seem to come from shadows; no one knew a lot about them and they didn’t seem able to answer a lot of questions for themselves. My heart ached with the realization that these children are so unknown. Teams come down and love on the children well, but only have a short span of time to spend with them. I come over with the teams and get caught up playing and don’t think to stop and get to really know a child. I felt as though all their faces had been hidden. I didn’t like the fact that there was so little known about the children and that information was not always easy to access with them. I didn’t like the idea that one of these kids could be easily forgotten.
As I’m working through all of this in a mess of mental chaos I began to hear that familiar Voice that, upon its entrance into my thoughts, brought immediate calm. God reminded me that He knows each of us and He knows us intimately. 2 Timothy 2:19 reminds us that “The Lord knows those who are his.” Again the Lord said, “He knows those who take refuge in Him” (Nahum 1:7). And again, Job says, “He knows the way that I take” (Job 23:10). And the Psalms are filled with expression after expression of God’s goodness in knowing us and pursuing us. Our God is not a god to sit idly back and watch His children walk in lonely isolation, unknown to Him. Our God is not an indifferent god who is passive about His relationships. What a pathetic god we would serve if those were descriptions of Him. No, we serve an All-Mighty God. The King of Kings, who could choose to remain in His heavenly Kingdom, chooses instead to enter our lives and pursue us wholly. He is proactive. Seeing our immense need for Him He willingly substituted His Son in our place – all for the purpose of pursuing and redeeming us! This is the God we serve! Think on this friend, if you truly are a child of God, you have an eternal Father, Brother and Friend. The Word confirms us as heirs WITH Christ (Romans 8:17). We are new creations, made to shed the ways of our old, and embrace the newness we’ve been given in the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our identity no longer has to be what has previously defined us (father, mother, employee, addict, athlete, stubborn, widow, widower, orphan, performer, whatever title has sunk its claws into our skin). We are free, the bondage has been broken, we are children of God and He says He will not leave us as orphans (2 Corinthians 3:17; John 14:18). Friend, if we could truly know God, that He knows us, and understand how that alters our identity, I assure you we would live as changed people.
My encouragement to you today is to rest in the knowledge that you are fully known and you are fully loved. As Timothy Keller puts it, this is “what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us” (“The Meaning of Marriage”). As you go about your day immerse yourself in this knowledge, in this radical love. Our God intimately knows those children. He knows and cares about the big details and the small details of their lives. Not a hair on their head is unaccounted for. This is true for you, too. You are known, you are loved, you are not forgotten, you are important, and you are wholly pursued. All because of our Heavenly Father, the Holy of Holies. I pray you grow in knowing Him more and in understanding your identity as a child of God and a brother with Christ.
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as children, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:12-17). Amen.