Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—” (John 1:12)
All through the Bible you read it: “Remember.” “Remember.” “Remember.” One hundred sixty-eight times in the New American Standard Version, the word “remember” appears. It is of some comfort to me to realize the God knew humanity needed reminding of things He’d done and was doing and will do. He knew his human creations had a short memory. And I’ll admit, at times, it’s easy to forget who I am in the Kingdom–that I’m anyone in the Kingdom. For you too, some days? As believers, we are adopted into the family of the King. We are no longer orphans! I was honored to watch this play out in “real time” this summer as I accompanied my sister to Ethiopia to bring her newly adopted son home to his new, forever family. I was going as sherpa, doula, doting auntie, and official photographer. I thought I was going to help and be a help–to bless, but I was blessed far more than I ever thought possible. The natural echoed the supernatural with astonishing, humbling clarity.
We are chosen.
Biblestudytools.com states : “The Greek word for adoption (huiothesia) means to “place as a son” and is used only by Paul in the New Testament.” We were not sons when we belonged to this world. We were slaves–to the world, its’ system, the Law. But then something happened: “…He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:4-6)
We were slaves, redeemed by Jesus as sons of the King.
“In the same way we also, when we were children, were in slavery under the elemental forces of the world. When the time came to completion, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:3-7
As one of the speakers at an adoption conference said, “In order for redemption to take place, weakness and brokenness have to exist.” But you don’t redeem garbage. You don’t redeem something that is worthless. God created us. After He created the whole world, he thought it was good. But when he created Adam and Eve, He thought they were VERY good. We are His creation, and while we might be broken, before we come to faith, we are not worthless. We weren’t junk. God didn’t sacrifice his Son for trash. God thought we were worth redeeming!
We were bought with a price.
No adoption is free. There is a cost required to the parents. On earth, it’s time and money. Lots of money. Whether international or domestic adoption, there is a cost. Parents have fund-raisers, bake sales, get grants or donations (I know a couple who flipped houses to save money for their adoption!)– all to bring a child into their family. Paul reminds us “You are not your own, you were bought with a price.” And what a price Jesus paid for us! He gave it all!
We cannot make ourselves “good enough” to meet God
When adoptive parents come to the transition home to meet their children for the first time, these sweet children are cleaned up and put into some “nice clothes” by the sweet ladies who work at the orphanage. As one of the antsy parents was waiting for this transformation to take place so they could meet their child, I heard them say, “Don’t they know we don’t care how clean they are or what they’re wearing? We just WANT them. NOW.” We spend so much time trying to make ourselves presentable before we go to God. Try to get it together. Clean ourselves up before we go in to meet the Father. Do we REALLY think we can do anything to make us presentable to Him? He doesn’t need us to get presentable before we come to Him. We can’t anyway. He just wants US! NOW!
We don’t keep our old name
Pictures from that incredible day show little Miller wearing an outfit that says “Austin.” It’s cute and clean, but not his. At the time, Miller’s Ethiopian name was Feseha, his new name was Miller, but it was never Austin. Do we not often “wear” the name someone in the world gives us, even if it’s not who we really are? If it’s not true? What name are you wearing on your T-shirt or in your mind and heart–what are you still wearing that just isn’t true? “Worthless?” “Throw Away?” “Unloveable?” What have you tried to slip back into, not because it’s you, but because you know it? It’s familiar? You’ve managed to make the shirt with the lie “cute”? It’s not who you are! You’ve been given a new name, the name of son or daughter!
“To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna,
and I will give him a white stone, and a new name
written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.” (Rev. 2:17)
One father I met came stay in Ethiopia with his new son until the paperwork was processed. He had 8 weeks leave from work, leaving his wife at home to care for their other two children. He planned on staying until he could take his son home. “People asked me why on earth I’d come stay here for 8 weeks . This son needs me as badly as my children at home. I just figured I should come be with him.” While the governments were still working out all the little details of citizenship and visas, this baby was already this man’s son. In his heart, this child was his. In God’s heart, we are HIS! He wants to be with us. He’s given us His name!
We receive all the rights and privileges of son-ship!
One of the sad things I learned is that in Ethiopia, there is not, as our guide said, the same spirit of adoption as there is here in America. In Ethiopia, if you are adopted by a family, you are given a place to live, meals, and education. But there are things you don’t receive. You don’t take on the name of your new family and you have no part in the inheritance from the father. When he told us that, there was a shocked silence in the room. Thanks be to God that their version of adoption isn’t God’s version or intent: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father'” (Romans 8:15 ). We get to call Him Abba! This isn’t a far away, distant relationship. This is a child calling on Daddy. In this case Daddy also happens to be the God of heaven and earth, who moved heaven and earth to bring us into His family. Without doing a thing, Little Miller has everything his brothers have–a mommy, a daddy, brothers (lots of brothers!), a home, a bed, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, a church family, an inheritance–and he is every bit a Brady.
We are never alone.
Before we went back to the guest house, the nannies indicated it was time for Miller’s nap. I asked Amy if she wanted to put him back down in his crib in the room with the other babies to sleep. A crib is not a good description of the raised wooden box with dividers between each baby. They lay there and wake and sleep on their own schedule it seems. Their bottles are propped in the beds, so they even eat there. Not the best situation, but it was familiar. I thought he’d take a nap then we’d be on our way. Not so. Fiercely from my sister-turned-Mama-Bear: “He is NEVER going to fall asleep there alone again.” Instead, he fell asleep cuddled in his mother’s arms.
He cares for our needs
Sometimes the trip home is harder than you think…
And then there’s going home. Being left at the airport without transportation to get something to eat. Two women with a baby, four suitcases, two carry-ons and a diaper bag, not to mention Bob (an adoptive dad with his sweet baby girl on his way home to wife and son after 9 weeks in Ethiopia), his baby Emmabette, and all their stuff. Sitting on the runway for hours, while small children around us screamed and even an adult threw up. Three flights plus a refueling in Rome, hours of sort-of sleeping, helping Bob with his baby. Vans, trams, and trains, loading and unloading. There were 8 hours of lay overs in DC and North Carolina, a plane whose air conditioning wasn’t working, hugely long customs lines and lost luggage. A baby who tended to throw up if not held just right and whose entire schedule was in limbo and no gluten-free meals for me. It was long and hot and hard. Kind of like life, right? ‘Nuff said.
You get a new family…
We walked off the plane and down the corridor, and there they were: people holding signs, flashing cameras; jumping up and down excited to see this new baby. He was already loved because of who he now was. Not what he did–he’d done nothing so far but have diaper rash and throw up all over the place. Nope. Not because of him, though he is adorable and happy and sweet. It was who he now was. And whose he was. Who his Father had made him. This miracle transformation from orphan to son.
When you get home, the Father is waiting…
One day, we’ll be done with life on this earth and we will “get home.”And when we do, we will clearly see the Father, face to face, not as we do now, but in full.
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be.
We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2)
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Cor 13:12)
Some days it’s hard to remember. It’s easy to fall back into thinking we’re orphans. Acting like an orphan. Putting on that old shirt of this world that proclaims the lie: “not worth it” or “still an orphan.” But we’re not. I’m the daughter of the King. I am His and He is mine. And if you believe Him, you’re not either. We will NEVER be orphans again.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1