I went through a box of books today that came from my parents’ house. My sisters packed it up last summer and put my name on it. It was mostly children’s books. And I’m the one with the children. In it was a book called Runaway Alice. I looked at it fondly because it was one of my favorite books from childhood, right behind the Chronicles of Narnia and the Katie John series. I must have read it many times, because I remember the story in great detail. You know how that is, right? Lazy summer afternoon, just a little bored, so you reach for the company of an old friend . . .
This book is about a 10 year old girl who has been tossed around in the foster care system in a small community where everyone wants younger children. She runs away when things get hard. Finally, she’s run out of options and her social worker takes her to a farm wife whose sons are grown and wants to foster a little boy because boys are what she knows . . . just until they find a place for her.
Well, predictably, after some bumps and detours, the farm woman and Alice figure out that they are meant to be together. And, I believe, in feel-good fashion, there is even a small foster brother introduced at the end to tie everything up with a nice bow.
Nice story, right? But, really, not that special. I was wondering why it caught my heart so when I was 10 that I read it over and over. It didn’t strike any chords of similarity in me. I never really wanted to grow up in any other family or had any particular inclination to run away. To my knowledge, none of my friends were foster kids.
But, here’s what I think. Even though I hadn’t realized or acknowledged it until recently, my primary spiritual gift is mercy. And, knowing that now, I can see many evidences of it in my childhood. God used this book, among others, to develop my sense of justice and mercy.
Also, isn’t it beautiful how God sowed the seeds of compassion in my 10 year old heart that eventually grew and flourished and made room for the adoption of my own little “Alice” all these years later?
. . . he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6