If you are a foster parent, or in any way involved in working with children in foster care, you know that it can be very challenging. I believe you will be encouraged by looking at the life of Moses, the foster father of a million children, and God’s hand of grace in his life as he fathered these children. By looking at his life and God’s powerful work in his life, we can learn truths that can both encourage us and give us wisdom with the little ones, or not so little ones, in our homes.
As I was reading through the book of Exodus, I saw many similarities between foster and adoptive parents and Moses. First, Moses had his own past issues to reconcile. One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned in parenting foster and adopted children is that we have to come to terms with our own past and realize that events in our past affect how we parent and how we attach to our own children and the children who we welcome into our home.
Moses was born into a crisis period where slave baby boys like him were killed. To protect him, his mom nestled him in a homemade little boat and set him afloat on the Nile River. She desperately hoped that God would guide the basket to safety. God answered her prayers, and into the arms of an Egyptian princess Moses found refuge. He was adopted into an elite culture by Pharaoh’s daughter. Torn between two cultures, his heart for his people and his passion over the injustice of their treatment caused him to kill an Egyptian slave master. Moses fled for his life. He spent 40 years in the desert, married and had his own family. Clearly, Moses had his own “history” to deal with. Through his past, God had instilled in him a heart for the vulnerable and a love for his people. God has a purpose in every struggle; every heartache has a reason. God uses every event in our life, the good and the bad, to fashion in us the heart and character he wants for our good and his glory. In God’s perfect timing, when Moses was 80 years old, the Lord called Moses to return to his people who were living in bondage in Egypt and lead them out into freedom and safety.
Second, Moses had a clear call, but felt ill-equipped. He felt very inadequate. I’ve been there, too. Moses pleaded with the Lord time and time again for help and support, because this call was HUGE. There were a million Hebrew slaves held captive by a very powerful uncompassionate Pharaoh. Moses asked God what he should say to Pharaoh, how he should do it, who would go with him to help? God provided everything Moses needed. He does this for us, too. God never sends us out on a calling alone. He calls for us to be strong and courageous, not to be frightened, and that he will be with us every step of the way.
Moses was called by God to be an advocate for the children of Israel. You are called to be an advocate for the children in your home, too. Moses was called to stand before Pharaoh and plead for their freedom. We are called to plead for the children in our care. To a hard hearted pharaoh Moses stood faithfully in the gap for his children. We do this too, as we advocate before school boards, case workers, DHR, DFACS, physicians who medicate too liberally, etc. I am sure Moses became weary and discouraged as he repeatedly asked Pharaoh to let the people go. Ten times at least Pharaoh said NO! Yet, persistence and the hand of God brought victory.
Like foster children, the Children of Israel, the Hebrews were a displaced people without a home. They found themselves in bondage as slaves. They were oppressed through hardships and trauma. Life was precarious and hard.
As Moses continued to advocate, God opened doors and answered prayers. God provided provisions. Moses was finally able to lead them out of Egypt and to freedom. God supplied their every need. For food they had daily Manna. They ate food from heaven and drank water from a rock. Their shoes did not wear out for forty years. God called Moses to be their leader, and God placed a million children of Israel in his care.
Now that they had a “foster father” who had their best interest at heart, it was still not always easy. Even though God provided all their needs, their food, drink and clothing and had placed them in a “safe place”, they still complained and whined. Moses said that all day long he stretched out his arms to a stubborn and obstinate people. The children of Israel complained of their provisions and food. They desired to go back to their bondage and said “We were better off before!” When we foster and adopt sometimes we have the mistaken expectation that the children in our care will be thankful or grateful towards us. We are surprised when they reject us, are unthankful or say they want to go back to where they were before.
How did Moses respond to this? He presented God to the people; he presented the people to God. He was constant in prayer over these people. Daily Moses told the Hebrew people about God and daily he prayed to God for the people and their needs. God always answered Moses’s prayers. He also had to learn to not take their complaining personally.
Moses taught them God’s Ten Commandments. Most of the time foster children come to us with no moral framework at all, no boundaries to judge right from wrong. They have been survivors who have had to lie, steal, and manipulate to get their needs met. Just like Moses, it is our job to teach social skills and morals, to teach these commandments in simple, basic easy to understand accurate language, and teach them all day long. Our work is to faithfully teach them. God’s work is to bring change and healing.
Moses was patient and persistent by the grace of God. He continued to lead and love the people. He taught them God’s commands, and he taught them what to teach their children (Psalm 78:1-8, Duet. 6:4-9).
Psalm 78, “So the next generation would know Him…. a generation yet unborn.
So what happened to these million Children of Israel?
God promised them a home of their own, a forever home. He gave them their “promised land.” God settled them in their home. He blessed them. He caused their children and their children’s children to be blessed. He gave them a future and a hope. He became their God and they, His people.
Moses never got to see their end story. God had given the Children of Israel another leader, Joshua, another “foster father”, to lead them to their forever home. Like Moses, we sometimes invest in these precious children not having the privilege to see God’s full work in their life. But we know, like Moses did, that we are instrumental in His plan for them.