"I have to really think before I talk because cuss words want to come out."
It was the confession of an 11 year old who'd been asked to walk a path beyond his ability to endure. They were the words of a boy who'd been living the kind of life to which very few Christian parents want to expose their children.
For more than three years now our home has been open to children at-risk. God has made it abundantly clear that this is a calling He's put on our lives and not one we devised on our own. But many times we've battled with why walking it out looks so much like putting our birth children on the chopping block.
The reality, however, is that we're simply being asked to lay them on the altar.
I'm a homeschool mom who has spent 2 1/2 decades shielding my children from the parts of the world that it seemed wise to protect them from. We went out of our way to avoid them being exposed to evil unnecessarily. And now those influences have made their way into our home by more than a score of children who didn't have the benefit of that protection.
Cuss words flow from some of their mouths like water. Some have smoked, consumed alcohol and watched unsavory mature adult content that not even adults should watch. Their minds are etched with scenes that can't be deleted and their internal sense of right and wrong has been dulled. They simply don't get it. And God has tasked us with teaching them.
But how do we do it without allowing our other kids to be destroyed?
Most people would quickly respond that we're in water we shouldn't be treading. That we've assumed a role not intended for parents still raising children. That our motives are pure, though terribly misguided.
And there's where it gets sticky. Because we've come to believe that sometimes God allows us to be thrown into a pit. Sometimes He allows that we end up in the house of Potiphar, or as a eunuch held captive by a rebellious king, or as a servant girl to Naman, a worshipper of false gods. Surely God knew those were the worst possible places for those young people to be. He knew the things they'd see, hear, and experience. He knew the toll it would take on them.
He knew they'd have cuss words threatening to spill from their lips and that they'd be tempted to bow down to worthless golden idols.
And that's exactly what I'm (slowly) learning ... I can't make idols of my children or of the vision I had for their growing up years that didn't include the direct invasion of all those influences from which I want desperately to shield them.
My boy is learning to filter his thoughts and his words which is a skill too few adults have learned. And we didn't throw him into the situation out of convenience or because we didn't want to be present with him ... he's in the situation because there's no way for him not to be as we answer God's call on our lives.
Obedience, for me, looks a lot like a surrender to the enemy and I don't like it. But God always calms me when I begin to stress and doubt.
He points me to these beautiful children with the black hair and dark eyes and the scars and pain never too far from the surface, and He reminds me that they matter, too. He promises that if I do my part, if I do all I can to do what I know is right, and never give in to laziness or complacency, He'll offer the protection over their souls that I couldn't even if I chose the "safer" route.
And so my response to my boy when he comes admitting the battle in his mind is this: You're learning a valuable skill and I want you to learn it well. I'll do everything I can to help you and protect you, but God is calling you deeper into a personal relationship with Him.
Which is exactly what we want for our children anyway, isn't it? That they would own their spiritual journey rather than riding our coattails until they fall off into the world.
So I'm going to praise Him for the gentle landing I simply can't yet see.