It had been a stressful morning at the orphanage—like most that school year. One of the children was doing her best to make life miserable for everyone around her. She was pushing all the buttons. She was testing every puddle to see if she could create a storm. By the time lunch came around, I was exhausted. We stood around our table for prayer, and then I reached for the pot of soup to begin ladling it out for the girls in our group.
Our youngest girl stood next to me, watching and sometimes commenting on what was going on at the table. As I reached to fill a bowl, a drop of oily soup spilled out of the ladle and onto my plate. It landed in the perfect shape of a heart. I couldn’t help a quick, little gasp at the sight. Tears came up into my eyes, as my little companion said excitedly,
“Miss Rachel! Look! God loves you!”
God does love us! He loves us so very much that He gave His Son for us. Since that day in Russia, surprise hearts have been special to me. And God has faithfully sent them at some of the most difficult times in my life, just as His little reminder that He loves “even me.” As His child, however, I want more than just to know that I have His heart.
I want to know that He loves me, but I also want to know that what I do pleases His heart.
I was definitely a “daddy’s girl” growing up. I always wanted to know that I was doing what pleased my dad because I looked up to him more than anyone else in the whole world. I remember how, in the early days after my dad passed away, one particular phrase could send me into tears faster than anything else. A lot of responsibility fell to me in those days, a lot of new things that required standing up strong all day long. I kept most of my grieving for the quiet times after the rest of the world had gone to bed. But it took everything within me to contain my emotion when someone said, “Rachel, your dad would be proud of you.”
But my dad, as amazing as he was, was just a man. More important than pleasing him, is living a life that fulfills, honors, and upholds the things that are precious to the heart of God. I want God to be able to say to me, “Your life made my heart glad.”
In order for our lives to fulfill this, we have to know what is close to God’s heart. He isn’t silent on the matter. He clearly lays out in the Bible many things which are precious to His heart. One of those things, a very big one, is the care of the fatherless.
This is one the biggest reasons that Forbid Them Not Ministries exists. Sure, there are plenty of tangible, material reasons for a ministry such as ours, but this—this is the biggest why behind what we do. I wrote a couple weeks ago about how each of us is born for the purpose of magnifying God. (You can read that here.) What we do is one of the ways that we can accomplish that, but pleasing His heart is the why.
So if this is the why behind the what, then HOW does it work? Here are three ways that carrying for the fatherless both magnifies God and pleases His heart:
God commanded us over and over again in Scripture to care for the fatherless. In the book of Job, it is clearly seen as the dividing factor between the righteous and the wicked. In the books of the prophets, neglect of the fatherless and the widow were two of the major sins that led to the captivity of Israel. God takes this command seriously. Obedience is a statement of love. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
How is caring for the fatherless worship? Surprisingly, the answer to this is incredibly clear and simple in Scripture, and yet it took me years to see it. In Deuteronomy 10, God bases His command to care for the fatherless and the widow on His own character. He says in essence, You should do this because I do this. What can be more worshipful than carrying out an act that magnifies the very character of God? Beyond this, God included it in His own definition of religion (which is simply the means by which we carry out our worship). He said,
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
I often hear people decrying religion these days, even people who are consistently in church. No one wants any part of religion. I humbly submit to you, that it is because we have forsaken God’s definition of religion and have practiced man’s version of it. We focus on the second half of the definition because it makes for easy check boxes:
Wear the right clothes? — Check.
Listen to the right music? — Check.
Participate in the right activities? — Check.
Carry the right Bible, go to the right Bible college? — Check.
Checked boxes prove nothing. They change nothing. They magnify nothing but our own pride. But when we truly seek to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, while walking in the trenches (as muddy as they may be) with the suffering and sorrowing, the misfits and the outcasts, and the hurting and hungering—then by our obedience, by the required sacrifice, by the reflection of who God is—He is magnified. That is worship, which pleases Him.
Pictures of His Redemptive Plan –
Caring for the fatherless and the widow, the stranger, the poor and the needy magnifies God and pleases His heart because it pictures His redemptive plan. In the Old Testament, God commanded His people to care for the fatherless because it was to be a reminder to them of the way in which He brought them out of their captivity in Egypt. In the New Testament, God makes the picture even more clear: adoption=redemption. In nearly every place the word adoption is used, it is linked directly to redemption. When we, through obedience to His commands, portray the plan that He set out for our redemption—it pleases Him.
People often ask me, What does Forbid Them Not do? Usually they want to know specific actions, tangibles (which are very important) but this is at the heart of the ministry. Each action that we take, whether walking alongside of a single mom, a missionary, a church, or a foster family in their care of fatherless children, is taken for this purpose: To fulfill that which is close to the heart of God.
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