My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” John 17:15 (NIV)
Although some friends supported us, others told us we were crazy to voluntarily open our home to children we’d never met.
Doubts swirled around us. What were we thinking? Could we afford it? We have three daughters. Would they be OK? Were we putting them at risk?
Despite our concerns, other questions weighed mightily on us as well: How do we teach selflessness to our teens unless we model that in everyday life? What might happen if we ask them to live it out directly in their world?
After lots of prayer and family conversations, we felt certain God had asked us to welcome these children, and He would guide us through it. It took months to be trained and background-checked, but within an hour of getting approved, we said yes to our first placement.
As a result, we invited three young siblings into our home through a ministry that’s a precursor to foster care — offering short-term housing for vulnerable kids whose parents are in crisis, but haven’t done anything to lose their parental rights.
Through the training process, we were intrigued by the notion of true biblical hospitality, which in the original Greek means “loving strangers.” Our trainers explained that sometimes “hospitality is dangerous.” Biblical hospitality is risky because it’s inconvenient and occasionally even uncomfortable to truly love a stranger.
In the midst of the unknowns and potential risks, I’ve found encouragement seeing how Jesus boldly prayed for His followers in John 17. The night before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed this prayer in today’s key verse:
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15).
Notice Jesus didn’t pray for fame, wealth, safety or even that His disciples get a pass and go directly into heaven. Instead, He begged His Father to protect them from our enemy, Satan, the “evil one.” Right here in this world.
Two of our enemy’s most powerful weapons are doubt and fear. If he can plant seeds of either in our minds, we can be dissuaded from stepping out in faith.
Jesus knew we would need “protection,” because every time we say yes to God, we step a bit further into enemy territory. Yet when we take risks for God, He will protect and preserve us from the evil one.
How did that play out in our scenario? We realized following God doesn’t always mean knowing each step, but taking the next one before us. And we watched in awe as the Lord granted reassurance from all our doubts about whether He would provide for us during the placement.
After taking in twin 6-year-old boys and their 5-year-old sister, we shared a brief request for some hand-me-down clothes and were inundated by the response. Not just neighbors and friends — but people we didn’t even know who’d heard about what we were doing and wanted to help.
Clothing. Furniture. Bicycles. Medical care. All provided free-of-charge. God brought exactly what we needed to move forward in faith.
Obedience can be risky. There will be doubt and possibly even fear. And yet we see Jesus, praying for our protection. When we know God has called us, and we say “yes” to what feels scary, we’ll see God’s hand of protection in miraculous ways.
Heavenly Father, guide me and direct me as I seek to love strangers the way You love them. Help me take risks in this world which require Your protection from the evil one. I want to live “dangerously” for Your glory, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Peter 4:8-10, “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” (NLT)
Isaiah 1:17, “Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” (NLT)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
How can you take risks of obedience for God? Maybe get to know your neighbors? Lead a small group? Launch a blog or write a book? Step out of your comfort zone to follow Jesus in loving strangers — the poor, the orphan, the widow? Leave a comment, and share whatever God has placed on your heart so we can be praying for you.
If you know someone who’s living “dangerously” for Jesus, would you pray, asking the Lord to encourage her in the kingdom work she’s doing, and then let her know you did through a text, phone call, email or card?
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