But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind Job 12:7-10
Recently, my daughter’s family came for a visit. This family is unique because, not only are my daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren in the family, but there will always be one or two foster babies or toddlers who come along for the trip. This family is fluid and ever-changing, depending upon which infants or toddlers need a loving home. My daughter’s family is asked to foster infants or toddlers when their own parents cannot care for them.
During these summer visits, we do the typical activities that families do at the beach in southern Texas: swim in the coastal waters, play golf, go eat at the bay side and gulf side restaurants, collect sea shells, go shopping, visit the sea turtle rescue facilities, go the lighthouse, go to the sea life museum, and go out on tour boats or pirate ships. We play cards, board games, or watch movies at night. In general, the schedule is extremely busy! We enjoy the loving fellowship of a week together on vacation.
This year, we revisited a tradition that we had neglected in the past few summers. We went for a night walk on the beach. The goal of this walk is two-fold: first, we enjoy the wondrous majesty of the sea-shore at night with all of God’s blessings and creations as we marvel at the beauty of it all; and, second, we search with flashlights, to find as many crabs as we can. These crabs of all sizes, scurry about quickly, as they run back to the water or find their crab hole in the sand. All the while, we feel the cool powdery sand as we walk in the breezy moonlight armed with our individual flashlights. We sense the foamy waves slide across our feet. We notice other groups of families with flashlights laughing and yelling, “Look! There’s another one!” as they spot a hasty crustacean that soon disappears, shoveling sand over their own little decapod bodies. These creatures are amazing to watch. Their eyes dart back and forth like satellite radar receivers as they examine the beams from our flashlights. The hermit crabs, borrow temporary homes of sea shells, while others find their homes in the sand and sea. God made quite a variety of these particular life forms. The water, the breeze, the moonlight, the variety of sea and sand creatures; so many blessings can be counted in a simple walk on the beach with family.
On this particular sultry night, another blessing was blatantly obvious to me. Walking along the shoreline, my three grandchildren were taking turns pointing out crabs, waves, and sea shells, to the foster baby as they carried her on their hip or in their arms. These three children, elementary, middle, and high school ages, had emotionally and lovingly accepted this baby of fourteen months, as their own sibling. This was not the first time for them to do so. They have, to date, had a total of seven foster babies over the past couple of years. These three grandchildren accept these babies readily; understanding that, for the time being, God has placed these babies in their home. Just like their own parents, they participate in the feeding, clothing, diaper changing, caring for, and loving of these babies. They love unconditionally. This is the true meaning of the verses spoken to us by Jesus:
And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. Mark 10:13-16
Being a true Christian means loving all others, accepting all others, praying for all others. These children willingly care for and love babies and toddlers they do not know. The history of the foster baby’s family is not important. These children do not question, they simply accept. As long-time Christians, or new believers, we do the same to be in the kingdom of God. We accept without question. All these children know is that these little ones need parenting and support. These tiny foster individuals need to learn how accept and return the love of others as well as how to talk, walk, and play. To accept the weak, the suffering, the young and helpless into a loving home, is to be Christlike. This was our second great commandment given to us by Jesus:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35
Among my many blessings, the knowledge that my grandchildren will grow up and have children of their own, for whom they will care just as they care for these foster babies, is one of my most precious blessings. These children will know how to take care of the physical and emotional needs of their own future children. And most important of all, they will know how to guide their own children in a spiritual walk with Christ. They know the examples they set in their own lives are following the commandment of Jesus: to love one another.
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