Tuesday, September 6, 2016

To be KNOWN: The power in the bent

Reading through the Amplified Version of the Bible, I stumbled upon a verse that I have "known" for years, but never really assimilated until now. 

In Proverbs 22:6 it says "Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it." As parents, we have all heard and clung to the part that says that if we are faithful in training up our children in the right way we can have some kind of guarantee that one day, God will bring them back to that path. Working in orphan ministry, we obviously want to grab on to this promise but we often equate the training aspect to sitting our kids in church services and group devotions. I feel like the heart of this verse is much deeper and more complex. As Christians, we would say that our number one priority for the children we care for is for them to find healing from their past, restoration in every area of their lives and come into a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, yet this can't happen by massive branding initiatives where we seek to make them all "Christians" without even knowing who they really are. 

As I get calls to intervene in cases of difficult behaviour, emotional outbursts, tantrums and regressions, I can't help but believe that the key lies in the bent. It's in this unique gift. Do I really believe that God has given these terribly behaved children a divinely ordained gift in this world and a special bent? Do I know what that looks like? The only way that I have ever seen adults effectively intervene in the lives of children that come from hard places is to establish a connection with them; taking them to a place of trust and vulnerability and satisfying their biggest need: the need to be known. 

The Bible repeatedly mentions God commanding us to act on behalf of the orphan and to bring about justice, but I am not sure we really know what that means. Will God call us to do something that is not in His heart to do Himself? To me, this means that in God's design of their lives, he cannot be unjust. He cannot inadequately equip or unjustly mark an orphan only to place them in our clumsy hands to simply be topics of meetings and case studies in trauma text books. His divine plan for their lives is that justice would be done, and that they would receive what Christ fully paid for. We are God's plan "A" to see this happen. The cross has me thinking so far beyond simple steps to healing and rehearsed prayers for salvation: God saw us as orphans and has taken it upon himself to train us in the way we should go based on our own unique gift and bent. The plan of salvation is personal and specific and this adoption into his family is exactly the way he wanted things to happen. I am beginning to believe this more and more for myself and it changes the way I look at these kids. They have everything they need; not in programs, sponsors and schedules but in God their father who sees them for you they really are. 

If we seek to follow Ephesians 5 and be those imitators of God, we need to get to know the people we care for. We have to believe that every child has their own God-given bent or gifting that makes them who they are. It is out of this place of knowing them that we truly understand that Jesus is the perfect fit. This encourages me to be intentional, to be present and to always remember that no two kids are the same and we can't train them up based on our good intentions and faulty expectations. We have to know them just like their Heavenly Father knows them. We have to know them well so that we may love them well. 



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