Does an Empty Nest Provide Room to Serve?

In the Christian community, I’ve often heard a phrase tossed around that says, “God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.”  At its core, this statement is true.  None of us are innately qualified to do what God asks of us, but He wants us to obey Him even when we don’t know how we will do it.  This obedience, this evidence of our faith (James 2:14-22) is what offers us the chance to join Him where He’s working and share in the blessings He wants to give us.

But what happens if God equips, and we never put it to use?  What if we’re content to simply possess the blessings of God? Is there any substance to our prayers of thanksgiving for the gifts He’s given us if we never actually use those gifts for the purpose that He intended?

The Bible is clear that while God does bless us, He intends us to use those blessings for the benefit of others and for His glory. (2 Corinthians 9:8-12)

There are over 114,000 adoptable children waiting in the United States foster care system.  In the same United States, there are over 300,000 churches.  The numbers seem simple.  If 1 out of 3 churches had 1 family that would adopt just 1 of these children, there would be no more waiting children.  However, experience has shown that this is more than just a numbers game.

A large percentage of the 114,000 have been marginalized by something they cannot control: their age.  Once a foster child reaches the teenage years, their chances of being adopted into a permanent home decreases drastically.  Each year, approximately 18,000 of these young people will “age out” of the system, and be sent into the world without the love and support of a family.  As many young people their age are heading off to college, these newly minted “adults” face the very real likelihood of winding up homeless, unemployed, and dependent on public assistance.  (Further statistics can be found at http://www.fosterclub.com/article/foster-care-statistics)

While these young people face the uncertainty of entering the world without the safety net of a family, on the other side of the spectrum are those families that have just sent their last child to college or watched them begin a career and family of their own.  These parents are suddenly faced with an “empty nest”.

Perhaps this is part of God’s design.

Is there a chance that God uses the process of raising teenagers to equip families to step in and change the future of a waiting child in foster care?  If a parent is struggling with the emptiness of their “nest”, could it be that God has placed a call on them to welcome one of the fatherless into their home and provide them with a very real picture of His redemptive adoption?

What if we’re not talking about “them”?  What if we’re talking about you and me?

Consider this scenario: By welcoming a 13 year-old child into your family, you have a 5-year window to pour into them and make the name of Jesus beautiful by demonstrating the love that God has shown to you.  The investment you make in that short time frame can change that child’s life for eternity.  That’s something no IRA, country club membership, or worldwide travel itinerary can ever do.

I wonder if maybe God is calling some of his children to simply re-feather their nest, instead of learning to deal with its emptiness.

“God sets the lonely in families…”–Psalm 68:6 (NIV)

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