My husband and I have had the privilege of helping to parent a few extra kids who for various reasons needed new environments in which to continue to grow. When we mention that to people, we get some raised eyebrows, and usually some kind words having to do with our bravery or self-sacrifice. We smile, say “thank you” and then tell the truth: We have gained more than we ever gave in those relationships. Our own biological children have only ever benefited. All of our lives have been far richer because of the presence of those sons God brought through other means than having given birth.
At the beginning, we wondered how we could possibly do it. Our home was already pretty full. There would be added expense to our already strained budget. How could we emotionally keep up with more than our four? But we took a chance or two and found that our needs and those of our kids were more than met – every time.
Fast forward a few years, and God has enlarged the vision of caring for those who needed extra support from added “family”. God has been wooing us into a bigger story, one which invites others into the purpose, the joy and reward of what we have experienced. God started whispering, “What if…?” to us. What if other parents could feel the same call we had? What if we could help with resources? What if we were able to provide housing by purchasing small apartment building in which a host couple could “parent” a few youngsters (18-25) and help them into adulthood?
And A Seat at the Table was born. But, here’s the thing. We can’t do it all. And we really can’t do it all by ourselves. It’s a pretty big vision and it will require a lot – willing house parents, qualifying mentees, partnering agencies and of course, financial support. We sometimes fret about how in the world we can accomplish all of this! It’s far too much. It’s hard to know where to begin, much less how to proceed. It can be a little overwhelming.
A week or two ago I was reading the gospel of Mark in chapter 8, and God showed me something that I want to share with you. In this chapter, Jesus has for the 2nd time fed a multitude of people from just a few loaves and a few small fish. Again, there are thousands of hungry people. Again, there were baskets full of leftovers. Remember, this is at least the second time the disciples have taken part in a miracle like this. Between the two events, they have seen Jesus walk on water, His mere presence in their boat calming the wind and waves. They’ve seen multitudes healed by him, including the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman and a deaf and dumb man who could immediately hear and speak. They have also witnessed challenges by the religious scholars – the Pharisees and those who would cling to their religious traditions at the expense of true worship.
And now, in chapter 8, Jesus is teaching his disciples. He warns them to “beware the yeast of the Pharisees.” And I don’t know if they were hungry or what, but they realize they forgot to bring any provisions. As Jesus is teaching, a few side conversations are taking place. “How could we have forgotten to buy provisions? Whose job was that? Why is Jesus talking about yeast? It must be because we forgot to bring any bread.” (my paraphrase, of course)
And Jesus overhears them, and you can almost read the astonishment in his voice. He seems incredulous. “Why are you talking about the bread? How can you still not see?” Jesus reminds them of how he fed first the 5000 and then the 4000, quizzing them each time, asking, “Do you remember?” and, “How many baskets were left?” And finally, “Do you still not understand?”
And that’s when God’s voice broke in for me, saying, “You see? I’ve got the bread! You don’t need to worry about the bread. I’ve got it. You guard the vision. You go and use the gifts I’ve given you and do what I’ve asked you to do. Enter into that to which you’ve been invited and don’t worry about the bread. I’ve got the bread.”
So what is your “bread”? What are you worrying over that God has already taken care of? What are the things He’s done in your past that have shown you that He’s got it? For us at A Seat at the Table, it feels like we need a lot of bread. But He has shown us again and again that we need not worry about the bread. He’s moved mountains for us as we’ve sought His wisdom and way. There really is no way we can do this on our own, with just our few loaves and fishes. But we serve the almighty God of the Universe – and He’s got the bread.