The Adoption Process
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. ~Romans 8:12-17
A few weeks ago, while sitting in the airport waiting to catch my plane, I met a couple that was traveling back home to Tennessee. When I travel, I typically put my headphones in and try to leave the rest of the world behind me. But for some reason, I struck up a conversation with this couple.
I found out that they had just spent their last 12 days at an orphanage with two of the little girls they hoped to adopt. They told me that they had been in the adoption process for almost two years. This “12 day trail” was one of the last steps to adopt these girls and to provide some bonding time with each other.
As I talked with them about the process they were going through, they were very forthright in telling me about the highs and lows of the adoption experience. They mentioned how they already saw the two girls as their own. They told me how anxious they were about leaving the girls behind as they went home. They talked about setting aside everything in their lives and moving, temporarily, to another country to be with the girls until the adoption was final and they could take them home with them. They weren’t just talking about a couple of weeks, or even months, but it could take an additional year for all of the paperwork to clear so they could become a family.
After they left to catch their flight, I wondered how people who just met someone for the first time, face to face, would be willing to set aside everything for them. How, in just 12 days of knowing these two girls, 8 and 6 years old, these soon-to-be parents, would be willing to change their lives in order to provide a home for these orphans.
But this is exactly what Jesus does for us.
We are all born of mothers and fathers, but in our baptism, Christ claims us as His own. We are no longer children of the flesh, but children of God. Not having adoptive children of my own, it is sometimes hard to understand what it means to be adopted by Christ. The image we often get from Hollywood about adoptive parents is not always great - Harry Potter, Cinderella, Snow White, Huckleberry Finn, etc. None had a great relationship with their adoptive parents, but that makes for a good story. More often than not, however, the real image of adoption lies in a couple like the ones I met in the airport - two people who have spent years, and thousands of dollars, to bring someone into their family. They are people who love, not because they were first loved, or because they have to, but simply because they love.
God loves us, not because God has to, not because we love Him, but simply because God loves. We are told that those who know Christ are adopted into the family of God. We become heirs to God, as Christ is an heir. In fact, we are told in Galatians that we are able to refer to God as “Abba”, which is often translated as “daddy”; the same intimate word that Jesus calls God when he is in the Garden of Gethsemane facing his crucifixion. (Jesus said, “Abba, Father, for in you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want. Mark 14:36).
Like the couple I met, God often times waits years for us to respond to His invitation to become a part of God’s family. No matter how long the process takes for us to realize God’s redeeming grace is waiting for us, God waits. God waits for the process, not ever leaving our side; willing to set aside everything so that we might know His love. And once we get there, God doesn’t give up on us when things get tough or we turn our backs. No matter what temper tantrum we throw, no matter how our priorities get changed. Even if we get upset and say, “I never want to talk to you again” God is there. Waiting, as a loving parent, not to say, “I told you so”, or to chastise us when we finally come home, but to embrace us and welcome us back home.
We are a part of the family of God. Like all families, we sometimes have good days, and sometimes we have bad days. Sometimes our siblings drive us crazy, and other days they are our best friends. To God it doesn’t matter; we are His children, adopted into the family of faith, and no matter what we do, His love for us will endure forever.