Not everyone is called to participate in foster-care or adoption (though perhaps God would have you consider it?). Not everyone is called to vocational ministry or overseas missions (though perhaps God would have you consider that, too?). But whether or not one is called to those types of kingdom service, everyone is called to daily, ordinary faithfulness through the grace and strength of God. And as you pursue that ordinary faithfulness each day, may you be encouraged to know that God will use it in his perfect way and in his perfect timing.
When the world around us is in chaos and the foundations seem to be shaking, what is it that makes an impact for the Kingdom of God? What does Christian faithfulness look like in uncertain and troubling times? What kind of people and what kind of actions will God use to “make a difference” in our day? In the year 2021, those may seem like difficult questions, but perhaps the answer is not as complicated as we might think.
Our senior pastor has pointed out that one way of considering these questions is in Psalm 37. There, in the context of evil people doing evil things, the psalmist tells us us not to fret and instead to “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:3-4, ESV).
With that in mind, as my wife recently reminded me, perhaps faithfulness in these days is as simple as doing the next right thing. If so, then faithfulness for each Christian is simply to do the next thing that fits with God’s calling on your life. Be where God has placed you; fulfill your calling as an employee or student, spouse, parent, or child, and be an active member of your church. In other words, “dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness” and “delight yourself in the Lord.” As Michael Horton might say, faithfulness can look very ordinary, and yet, God may use that ordinary faithfulness for great Kingdom growth. In fact, as his Word tells us, we can be quite sure that he does, and that is extremely encouraging in days like these.
Allow me to give you an example of this kind of encouragement and introduce you to the Speece family. Lincoln, Melinda, and their four kids live in Hayneville, Alabama, a city with a population of about 800. Lincoln, a Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) pastor, ministers to three historic congregations in Lowndes County, a “Black Belt” community that still makes its living off of farming.
A few years ago, the Speeces wanted to ask a question similar to the ones posed above, effectively wondering, “How can we be faithful where we are? How might God use us in ways that we haven’t yet seen?” The answer to that question came in pursuing certification to become a foster-care family, which they did. They fostered several children, most of them infants, and yet also some difficult cases. And then one day, Melinda found out about a newborn baby boy in the hospital. Knowing the benefits to newborns of being held, and knowing that this boy had no one to hold him, Melinda would drive to the hospital and spend time holding baby Haiden. It was the next right thing for her; it was ordinary faithfulness.
Then, it came time for baby Haiden to be discharged, and the nurses began telling Melinda what she needed to do to take care of him at home. “But,” Melinda replied, “I don’t know if I’m taking him home. I’m just here to hold him.” But the Lord had other plans, and the Speeces did bring Haiden home and they became his foster family. They were doing the next right thing.
So they began to pray for Haiden. Lincoln remembers praying that God would fight for Haiden as he did for his people in Exodus (Ex. 14:14), and that he would fulfill his promise in Psalm 68 to be a “Father of the fatherless.” He prayed that God would provide Haiden a family and a permanent home, and more specifically, he prayed that Haiden would be adopted by a godly Christian family.
As time went by and God directed their hearts and prayers, the Speeces began praying that they could be that adoptive family for Haiden. That decision was the next right thing. And so they pursued adopting him through all the hurdles of the modern foster care system with all of its gut-wrenching waiting, decisions, interviews, paperwork and court hearings. And then, after a very long 1,215 days of foster care, their prayers were answered, and they were able to adopt Haiden.
Now, the joyous reality is that Haiden is not simply a part of the Speece family, he is part of the visible family of God, the covenant community. That reality means he has all the privileges of the covenant community and the means of grace. Thus, because of his adoption, Haiden will be raised in the church and in a home where his parents will read the Bible to him, pray with him, and point him over and over again to the Lord Jesus as his Savior and Lord.
From a long-term perspective, his adoption into the Speece family means that one day, Haiden can also be reading the Bible to his kids and his grandkids. In fact, there may be an entire family line in heaven descended from Haiden Speece. Only God knows, but it is sweet and wondrous to contemplate, and as Lincoln pointed out, this is a reality worthy of Psalm 126:3, “The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.”
All of this is a product of the Lord’s merciful providence, but from a human perspective, God used the Speece’s desire for ordinary faithfulness to bring about life-changing circumstances that we believe will have eternal consequences. A simple pursuit of daily faithfulness has brought a soul into the church who may have otherwise never heard the gospel, never sat under the means of grace, and never known the love and forgiveness of Christ. Perhaps to many, those seem like ordinary things, but in reality, they are not. They are life and death things; eternal things.
Not everyone is called to participate in foster-care or adoption (though perhaps God would have you consider it?). Not everyone is called to vocational ministry or overseas missions (though perhaps God would have you consider that, too?). But whether or not one is called to those types of kingdom service, everyone is called to daily, ordinary faithfulness through the grace and strength of God. And as you pursue that ordinary faithfulness each day, may you be encouraged to know that God will use it in his perfect way and in his perfect timing. Perhaps it will look very ordinary. Perhaps it will look extra-ordinary. But either way, our confidence can be that it is God’s good work, and one day we will all look back and sing together “The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.”
Rev. W. Ross Hodges is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America, is an Assistant Pastor of Eastwood PCA in Montgomery, Ala., and an adoptive father.