Friday, October 18, 2013

Why We Are Called to Davion

I read an article yesterday that brought me to my knees. You're welcome to read it if you'd like, but it boils down to this: A 15 year old child named Davion, raised his entire life in foster care, dons a second-hand suit and shows up at an evangelical church with clammy hands and a lurching in his gut to ask if someone - anyone - would adopt him.

I wasn't present for the service, but 300 people were, and I have my hunches about how it all went down.

He probably made the congregation uncomfortable at first, because we like our church services as tidy as possible. No surprises, please. Please don't put us on the spot like this. The ladies shifted in the pew. The men took an unusually keen interest in their wrist watches.

But the more he spoke, the more they listened.
The more they listened, the more they felt.
Now what? What on earth do we do with these big feelings?

Here's what I tend to do - I tend to start thinking about folks who should help. If I were there, I might have thought about the empty-nesters with the extra bedrooms and time on their hands. I might have thought about the couple sitting on the newborn baby waiting list for two years and counting. I might have thought about the friends with cash to burn. I might have thought about you. But probably not me.

Because while Davion stood shaking in the pulpit, having harnessed all of his guts to bring himself down into the low places of pleading for help from strangers and admitting his need, his piercing loneliness, his intense longing to be loved, I would sit politely in my seat and tick down my list of excuses.

I don't have enough time.
I have four children already, who demand so much from me.
Our home is small.
He could be dangerous.
He might be wounded.
It would disrupt my home.
I don't know how.
I have a sick kid.
I have a troubled kid.
The system is too confusing.
They system is too demanding.
I'm too old.
I'm too young.
My family wouldn't support us.
We can't afford it.
We've done enough.
This isn't my calling.

Of the 300 congregants present the day Davion stripped down to his emotional underwear and begged for a family to want him, not one of them stepped up.

''I'll take anyone," Davion said. "Old or young, dad or mom, black, white, purple. I don't care. And I would be really appreciative. The best I could be."

This breaks my heart in half, mostly because there's a very good chance I wouldn't have stepped up either.

I would have smiled through a set of very sweet "Bless his heart" thoughts. I may have gone the extra mile and tracked him down afterward to tell him he was brave, a fine young man, so well spoken!, so mature! I would have promised my prayers. I would have turned around and walked away.

This isn't an indictment on *that* church, it's an indictment on The Church, who has handed us an out cloaked in a Holy-sounding lie - I'm not called to this. It's an indictment on us for lunging for that lie then wearing it like a mantle.

We have got to do better than this, friends. We have to decide - for real and forever - that Davion is our responsibility. He's our gift. If he continues to live as an orphan, it's on all our heads. 

This child who has never known the particular security of belonging decided, on his own, to find himself a family. He made himself the best he could be, swallowing the rage that comes from years of abandonment, rejection, and God knows what else. He studied hard and raised his grades. He shed 40 pounds.

And none of that matters at all. None of it is relevant to a God who scooped me up sin-soaked and broken from the ditch I dug with my own two hands and carried me home. When orphans believe they have to fit a certain standard to win our acceptance, we have failed to strike the mark of love that identifies us as followers of Christ (John 13:35). If Christ dwells in us, His love should flow from us, a wild river of foolish sacrifice.

Do I believe that every family needs to foster or adopt a child? Nope.

But I do believe that every one of us needs to figure out a way to do better at caring for orphans. And widows. And the poor. It can and should look different from person to person.

I believe this mandate is not a one-and-done. I speak from a heart that knows I default to withholding when I should be offering extravagantly.

Truth is, God could reach down and unlock all the chains Himself, chains of poverty, illness, addiction, loneliness, suffering. He could do all the work because He is the only answer, the only way out. But He loves us so much that He chooses to let us join in the redemption of others. He requires this of us because He knows that in laying our lives down, we are rescued.

So while we stew around, clutching the costume jewelry of "our" life, we do so at the expense of the riches of more of  Him.

It should feel like a no-brainer.

All the while, He waves us over to the gutter, where He waits. That is the size of His love, that He would invite imperfect, broken us out into the world with Him.

He asks us to share in His story for another broken human knowing we all walk away healed.

So I'm praying tonight for the excision of my paltry, worn-out excuses. I'm praying for more trust and bigger love. I'm praying for courage that matches Davion's by even half.