Just Love

Guest Post by Debbie Croft | Executive Assistant to the President, CAFO.

It was less than two weeks before Christmas. With an elementary-age daughter at home, we had made our wishes known in specific terms: girls only, no infants, no teens. And we wanted to adopt.

But at a community concert a foster parent told us about a baby boy who needed a permanent placement. We didn’t plan to agree. But God had other plans. And before the end of the week, the little guy arrived at our house.

My new routine included sitting on the sofa several times a day cradling a three-month-old and a bottle. During the holidays. With a daughter trying to do school work mid the new distractions.

A baby swing sat in the living room, but no Christmas tree. I looked around my house at tasks (and family members) neglected, with the extra shopping and baking still needing done and church events to attend – and sighed.

He was a sweet little guy who hadn’t asked for the circumstances he’d been born into. And my heart ached.

In taking care of him, feeding him, holding him close, and pushing the baby stroller through our neighborhood, although I smiled, there was a struggle going on inside me.

After only a few days as I sat on the sofa again, I complained about the intrusion.

I don’t understand, Lord… Between church ministries and home schooling, our lives are full. Caring for an infant requires time I don’t have.

In exasperation I asked, Father, what do You want me to do with this baby?

I just want you to love him, He whispered.

I stopped grumbling.

Days went by, and the rest of the family pitched in. The Christmas tree did get set up and decorated in time. And having an extra family member to buy presents for and share the holidays with added excitement.

Within a few weeks the little guy could (finally) fall asleep on his own. And it wasn’t long before he laughed and played, curious about the world around him and the faces looking back.

Soon he felt secure. And we felt ourselves getting attached. Really attached. When the question of adoption came up, we said Yes.

But adoption wasn’t to be the next step for us after all.

After nine months he left our home to live with his grandma and step-grandpa. They had been given guardianship and would adopt him.

The baby’s case worker, her supervisor, and almost everyone with Social Services pushed for him to stay with us. But the judge saw it differently.

Again, I didn’t understand.

Especially when, a few years later my daughter and I attended the memorial service for his step-grandpa.

For a second time his grandma would be a single mom. She had raised her older kids by herself, and blamed their struggles on not having a dad around. Being widowed wasn’t in her plans, either.

But God’s thoughts and plans are higher than ours. He hadn’t allowed us to adopt him. He only allowed us to love him.

In the years since, I can’t say I understand much of what God allows, but I’ve learned a few things about love… about how the Savior loved and how He continues to love. I see how shallow and reserved and tepid my love is compared to His, how calculating human devotion can be – doling out bits of kindness like precious treats.

One for you and two for me, one for you and three for me, and that’s all for you because the rest are mine!

How wrapped up in selfish expectations my love is, with strings attached, and the many reservations I cling to – as if I can hoard the limitless, eternal supply of divine love(!)

I quote back Scripture (the law of sowing and reaping), reminding God of all my selflessness and love poured out, wondering when the return on my investment will show up. And dare I say it, presenting to Him a list of results I silently demand.

I thought I had been asked to love a baby who would become my own. But life took a turn I didn’t expect and didn’t want. I was faced with love on a different level. Would I continue to love when it hurts? When faced with disappointment? When life got uncomfortable and nothing made sense?

God’s love doesn’t come attached with strings or involve mathematic equations, nor does it depend on results. And when I fail Him, there’s never the question of whether He’ll continue to love.

Not ever.

And this is how He wants His children to love – to just love and let God take care of the rest. When God loves, knowing His love will be misunderstood, ignored, ridiculed, trampled on, discarded as worthless and rejected, He still loves with His best, His most, His fullest. And 2,000 years ago He didn’t hold back even His most prized possession.

Love defines the character of our God, and love is what He calls us to do, without reservation. His is a love poured out.

He doesn’t love us because we’re special. He loves us because it’s all He knows. (Because God is love.)

And He wants us to just love like He does. Not a trickle, not a scant doling out, but a fountain pouring and overflowing… a waterfall washing over everyone we meet. To forget measuring, to discard our demands, give up our expectations, to break open the container and pour out His love… and to keep pouring, leaving the results to Him.