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True Religion

If you are a blog reader of mine, you know I process through writing what God is teaching me–and you also know any time I take a few days off from writing its usually not because I’m busy (because writing is HOW this momma unwinds from her busy)…it’s usually because He’s teaching me and it’s hard to process. I haven’t blogged since Sunday publically–but I did write on Monday, Tuesday and today…very long posts—prayed over them…processed them…and then stowed them away in my heart–and for now that is where they will stay.

The Lord is really teaching me a lot right now–through walking with others in their hardship (their distress) and pain…orphans and widows…choosing to do life together and saying, “We are in this together—for the long haul…and we will look for God and His faithfulness through it.”

While some of my readers may come to my blog and feel “moved” to consider adoption after hearing our experience…or after seeing a sweet coming home video–that, my sweet sisters and brothers, is not really what James 1:27 is about at all—or else anyone not called to adopt wouldn’t be offered a part in true religion–right? Adoption is growing my family–it’s choosing to follow God in growing my family in a different way…and to be willing to do for my newest son what I would and will do for all of my children to be there for them and when need be–walk through times of hardship, healing and pain with them. I can some what guess that it may be more often, however, for the children God brings to me through adoption–but that of course is no promise. We are NOT all called to adopt…any more than we are not all called to have more children biologically–but adoption IS one of the many ways God can use us to change orphans to sons and daughters…and this is GOOD…it is a CALLING…and discerning that calling over emotion is very important.

SO…what about James 1:27? How do we LIVE true religion? Because this–as believers we are all called to–if we want to experience Him fully and live true religion (James 1:27). How do we care for, visit and look after orphans and widows in their distress? How can we help walk with orphans and widows during their time of pain? This verse isn’t about changing orphans to sons and daughters or finding the widow a new spouse–but about going there with them in their distress—and THIS is what true religion is. While only 1% of the estimated 140 million orphans worldwide are considered eligible for adoption, and 90% still have one living parent–or you could say 90% have a widow as a parent. How can we live James 1:27 to these? How can we look after, care for and visit them…and really begin going there in their distress with them? The Lord has been showing me more and more about the answers to these questions–and while my home right now is pretty crazy and may not be the best fit right now to add another one of the precious 1% to come join our crazy–how can God use me right where I am for the other 99%? To really LOOK AFTER these in their time of DISTRESS…oh–I think I’m ready to go there.

When I think about visiting orphans and widows–the first place my heart naturally goes is to our “other family”…my son’s first family. There is a widow and single orphans across the world. Then I think about our next closest–those already around us. Our church alone has countless single orphans whose mom or dad is no longer with them–and essentially in many ways single moms are modern day widows in our culture. How can I live James 1:27–pure and faultless religion? While we follow where the Lord leads in these ways and choose not to always share the ins and outs here–God sees our hearts and our hands–and that is enough. And it is good.

And while most times my tendency is to start at home and move outward–I want to also remember where the places are where the forgotten live? I think about our ministry in Zambia/Africa–where adoption is closed yet more than 1/3 of their children are orphans. WOW. Our eyes are opened when we VISIT them (James 1:27) but naturally more people visit the countries they adopt from. SO–what about these countries that some times fly under the radar? Use us Lord to live James 1:27–to YES serve in our neighborhoods and to live true religion here–but to also some times leave where we are comfortable or feel personally connected to and visit, look after and love widows and orphans in places that aren’t as convenient or as attractive…meeting someone in their distress will never look fun–it’s not a brownie sale and the pain through it is not “blogable” and thankfully so…because there are some things so sacred where true religion resides that should be treasured in our hearts and leave us in worship as we see Him working through us. Following the Lord in the way of James 1:27 will not be easy–but I can promise it will refine and change…and you will be amazed when you see Christ come through. You WILL see His glory. He will be faithful with His presence. And it will be SO SACRED that you won’t publically share it with others…because you will know–it is HOLY…you won’t be able to write about it because you can’t even express it’s power. It is TRUE RELIGION…it is beautifully painful, yet good—and you will want to follow Him again and again in true religion to see Him over and over…and over again. And it makes sense why He calls us to serve and be His hands in this way.

And speaking of visiting orphans and widows in their distress–if you would be interested in joining us on our next trip to Zambia this June–please contact me. We have just a few spots–but we’d love to take you with us! There’s no building. There’s no painting. But there is sitting. We sit and we listen…and we love. As simple as that. And you probably not be able to find the words to write about it either…or words to express how YOU were changed in the process. But James 1:27 doesn’t have to just be around the world…it can be as close as next door. It probably won’t knock on our doors–but when you are ready ask Him to take you there and begin leading you to true religion and worship in this way. I never want to lose sight of what this verse means and what through it we are being asked to do.

As believers, let’s pray how He can use us to live James 1:27 fully and to be used for His great glory and good…

Nancy - February 23, 2011 - 2:46 pm

This is especially encouraging to me today. Thank you for what you share. He is the King of Glory!

Dawn - February 23, 2011 - 3:25 pm

So true….there are soo many ways to serve widows and orphans. And many of us forget those.

Lara - February 23, 2011 - 3:30 pm

Oh, howI wish I could go to Zambia! Next time hopefully!

Elle J - February 23, 2011 - 3:30 pm

I have been pouring over my bible this morning – heavy heart – and I asked God for His words, and as I continued to thumbs through verses, skipping around, I thought of Andrea and how I longed for her to write. After awhile I checked into your blog – THIS appeared. Melting away with tears ….

Alison - February 23, 2011 - 3:56 pm

Love this…have been thinking so much lately about these precious orphans who are unadoptable. I feel like God is showing us so much…

Andrea B - February 23, 2011 - 6:44 pm

Oh Andrea I am dying to go on a service trip right now. We have friends that just returned from Honduras and I tried to stow away with them. I would love to go, but I am hopeful that I will be in Africa by the end of summer.

Sandi - February 24, 2011 - 10:47 am

Amen! It has been very humbling to see that there are so many ways we can follow God’s call to live out true religion. He is teaching me that “helping orphans & the poor” has many faces. It’s encouraging to know that God will use us just as we are daily in many different ways to help those who are struggling silently be it in our own home town or around the world. Makes me thank God that he is so much bigger than we think & that he created all of us to fulfill different purposes.

Ashley - February 24, 2011 - 12:16 pm

I’ve been reading James 1:27 every day lately and was so excited to read your post on it! I’m terrible at keeping up with my blog and when I do it’s usually just pics of Ryder…but thought about you when I shared this today so take a peek at it if you have time…