35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:35 -40
A popular catch phrase right now is “paying it forward,” meaning that if you have been blessed you’re now encouraged to bless others. Examples of this are the fast food drive-thru “pay it forward” where the person in front of you paid for your lunch, or the grocery “pay it forward” where a person pays for your groceries while you are searching for your debit card, or the anonymous payment of an electric or water bill. There are many examples of “paying it forward.” It is a way of living out the heart of our Christian life.
Adoption and foster care are very personal ways to “pay it forward.” Many children are necessarily removed from the care of their parents and need a safe and nurturing place to live and grow until they find their “forever home.” What a wonderful comparison to our life in Christ. Before we found Christ, sin had separated us from our heavenly Father. We lived everyday lost, alone, afraid, angry, or in a pseudo happy place that had no depth. We lived fragmented lives, not really knowing what feeling loved was like, and maybe not even knowing what was missing. Then Christ found us, Jesus saved us, and we found our forever home. We knew we were safe. Life was not bliss every day, but it was a blessing every day.
Dr. John DeGammo, founder and director of Foster Care Institute, shared from his experience as a foster parent:
You are planting a seed in the life of a child in foster care that WILL grow, and WILL bloom. You may not see this transformation while the child is living in your home; this seed may not blossom until much later, but it will blossom if you plant it with love, water it with your tears, and nurture it with your time and compassion.
Sometimes, we may not be able to save a child from having a horrible and tragic experience before they come to live with us. Yet, we are given the chance, as foster parents, to save them from experiencing other future horrors, and taking them away from dangerous situations. Without a doubt, this is a joy itself. As a foster parent; indeed as a parent, you are making a difference! You are saving a child from harm!
As you are reminded of what Jesus has done for you, take a moment and think about what you can do for Jesus, and how you will live out your Christian walk and talk. Consider foster parenting! Trust me, if I can do it anyone can! There are so many children that need care, yet so few willing to help.
Paying it forward comes in many forms. What is your way of paying it forward?
Tamara Dicks was a medical transcriptionist/platform trainer, medical transporter for a residential facility, and pastor’s wife. She is the mother of 6 and has been married to her college sweetheart for 38 years. They are foster parents for the state of Minnesota. Tamara currently writes for the Maple River Messenger and teaches CPR.