Monday, April 26, 2010

"My favorite book says we're all adopted."

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Psalm 68:5 NIV

“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.” Psalm 82:3 NIV

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18 NIV

So, why does God care so much about the “orphan”? What makes orphans so special to Him? His care and concern for them are mentioned throughout the Bible. And over the last couple of months, He has been teaching me (constantly, it seems) about His heart for the orphan.

The first thing we have to acknowledge is that at one time we all were orphans – alone, lonely, unloved, hopeless, unprotected, and scared.
Contrast that reality to the reality of being adopted. Adopted children "belong" to someone; they are adored; they are special; they are chosen; they have been ransomed and given hope and a future of promise; they will receive an inheritance.

Our adoption t-shirts say, “My favorite book says we’re all adopted.” That doesn’t mean that we’re all automatically a part of the family of God. It means that “If you’re a part of God’s family, the only way you got here was by being adopted.”

Just as our family has chosen to go through the adoption process, God has chosen to adopt us. (His "process" was through Jesus.  Ephesians 1:4-6) The orphan cannot “make” anyone adopt him or her. Adoption has to be initiated by the one doing the adopting. You have to be “chosen” to be adopted. Children cannot adopt parents; parents must choose to adopt the children.

In the same way that the orphan cannot make the parent adopt them, the parent cannot make the orphan allow themselves to be adopted. It’s a mutual agreement. Each party must fulfill its own individual role in the process, and they cannot be switched.

What if we were to go to court in Ethiopia to adopt our children, and one of them were to say to us, “No, thanks. I don’t really want to be adopted by you. I understand you have good intentions and all, but I think I’d rather remain an orphan and just hope something better comes along”? There would be nothing we could do. No matter how much we want them, and no matter how much we love them and understand that their lives would be dramatically improved, it takes a desire from both parties to come to an agreement and to complete an adoption.

Honestly, I am sure that in some ways it will be a scary thing to our children to be adopted by us. The children we are requesting (ages 3-9) will be old enough to understand what is going on. They will have to leave forever everyone and everything they have ever known and go to live a new life with people they do not yet fully know. Surely they will wonder, “How can I be sure they will love me? What will my new life be like?” I imagine that they have grand dreams of a better life, but it will take a big leap into the unknown to get there.

Unlike them, however, we can see the other side of the situation and know that our adopted children will be completely adored by everyone in their crazy, new, big ol’ family. They may even get tired of all of the attention and doting that they receive from their slew of new relatives and church family. (I’m under no illusions that life will be perfect, but no matter what, those kiddos are going to be loved.) We know that they will have opportunities that they have never dreamed of and a quality of life they have never known.

Isn’t that just like what happens when we have the opportunity to join God’s family through adoption? We’ve been wanting something better. We have been dreaming about it and longing for it. And now the opportunity is available - because HE decided to make it available. It “sounds” just like what we’ve always wanted, but there is a certain comfort in the familiarity of our neediness. We’re afraid of adjusting to a new “normal” – an awesome normal, but new just the same. We say, “What if this…?”, “And what if that…?” We keep delaying and denying when we could be enjoying and rejoicing. We keep questioning and procrastinating when we could be praising and celebrating. We have to get to the point where we will accept His free invitation to join His family.

When we accept by faith God’s invitation to be adopted by Him (“as sons” because in that day and culture only sons received the inheritance - so I am perfectly fine with being called “a son”!), we are no longer orphans. We are no longer “alone, lonely, unloved, hopeless, unprotected, and scared”. We now "belong" to someone; we are adored; we are special; we are chosen; we have been ransomed and given hope and a future of promise; we will receive an inheritance. We are adopted!

That’s why God wants us to care for orphans as He does. Adoption is a living, vivid picture of what He has done for us.

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son.”
Ephesians 1:4-6 NLT

Thank You, Father!

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