Having faith to place the basket in the river...

Recently I was faced with the reality that it may soon be time to let one of our sweet kids go. It was not of my choosing. It was not because of a happy ending and reunification with parents. It was not because it was in the child’s best interest. It was simply a decision that had been made in a case by another person who had never met the child. We have loved, treasured, suffered with, and grown with this child for several years in the foster care system. We watched a newborn grow into a child. We are mom, dad, brother, sister. On the night of this news, we did our usual bed time routine that ended with a prayer, big squeeze, a kiss and a song. I pondered the thought of the loss that we may face as I watched this child fall asleep. My heart ached to think of the deep confusion and trauma the child would also face from a forced good-bye that, at this young age, would not be understood. The night-time CD that played was a lullaby of scripture after scripture. I prayed fervently that every Word would wash over this child’s life. That the God we have loved and served and taught in our home for the last several years would be embedded in the heart of one so young. That even if we could not be there forever, I prayed desperately that the Creator and Heavenly Father would be ever-present and known by this child.

My heart was heavy and sad, and as I held a little hand , I wondered how I could trust God with this little life? I had been the protector, care-giver, advocate, rescuer, and giver of love and encouragement for this child for years. What would it mean if I wasn’t there? How could I trust God with this future that made no sense? My mind went suddenly to the story of Moses. Another mother who faced this same reality. Think of it. Moses’ birth did not occur in happy circumstances (Exodus 2). His people were oppressed and by the king’s decree all baby Israelite boys were to be thrown in the river at birth. But Moses’ mother, Jochebed, believed in God. After his birth, “she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.” (Exodus 2:2-4). She told his sister hide and watch. Then God, the God of every circumstance, however great or small, directed the steps of Pharaoh’s daughter to come to the Nile at that very spot and that very moment. The princess “saw the basket among the reeds” and when the baby cried, “she felt sorry for him.” (Exodus 2:5-6). She did not follow the Pharaoh’s order or tell her slaves to throw the baby in the river, instead, her heart was moved. Moses’ sister bravely ran to her and said, “shall I go and get one of the women to nurser the baby for you?” And just like that, Moses’ own mother, Jochebed, was paid to do what she most wanted — raise her baby. Jochebed cared for Moses for the first three years of his life. And then, “when the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son.” (Exodus 2:8-10).

What an amazing roller coaster of trust and faith for Moses’ parents! They saw God move in each detail to save their child. His mom placed her child in God’s hands by placing him in the river, and then God returned him to her for a time. Somehow this must have strengthened Jochebed to trust God for her child’s future as she raised Moses and then took him to the palace and gave him to another mother who did not know God. I can’t imagine that strength and faith! Don’t you know she must have prayed over him? And sang every song of scripture imaginable to pray it would be planted in Moses’ heart? I’m sure she spoke every minute of God’s promise to Abraham, their people, and that God had a plan for Moses’ life. Don’t you know every second she spent teaching him God’s truth even at such a young age? And then she walked him to the palace and let him go. She must have been amazed at God’s saving the life of her son, but at the same time begging God for a different miracle. A miracle that didn’t involve giving her son away. But God was at work in the parents’ plans, the baby’s cries and the steps of Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses would grow up into an educated Israelite man that God would use to save His people from slavery.

So, while I am in no way ready to say good-bye to a child I’ve been given to raise, I am praying I find the faith to trust God with how He orders the steps of our lives. I do believe that God is at work in all circumstances of our lives, even if we never experience a miracle. Or at least not the specific miracle we are praying for. The Bible says that “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28). We pray this truth will be so in the life of each child in foster care. We pray for all of the foster parents who love fiercely and deeply, and then have to let go and trust God with the next steps of a child’s life. Steps that may not be safe, and that may not include the Word of God. We pray that every child will know they are loved by a Heavenly Father who has a special, cherished, divine plan for their lives — even when the beginning of life may not be in the best of circumstances.

I do believe that God is at work in every aspect of my life, and of my children’s lives. He directs all things for the eternal good of each of His people. So may we have the faith to place the baby in a basket in the river— we surrender them to the will of God. May we rejoice in the opportunity to raise the child to know the Lord — for however long that may be. And may we trust in the Father when we have to let them go — whether to a palace or the unknown.

-Sarah Oberndorfer

Foster mom, Co-founder of Joy Meadows, and Chair of Board