“For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ….” (Romans 8:15–17, NASB95)
Today I was working on a memorial service for this coming weekend. The individual being remembered is one who was adopted as a small child by parents of whom the mother herself was adopted, yet did not find out about her own or her mother’s adoption until she was an adult. This information had a significant impact on her life, and she struggled under it for many years. It was not until she really came to grasp the other side of adoption that she really began to come out of her dark struggle and live with peace and hope.
While I will not pretend to speak for her, there are so many children who have struggled with being rejected in one way or another and along with that battled over their real identity or at least what they thought about their identity. For some they work though this with a great deal of support and do well. Others, however, struggle with depression and more. They question what it was about them that made them so unacceptable and they question why anyone else would accept them. For some their adoption happened early and they don’t have any memory. But for others, their path to adoption was a lot more traumatic, maybe even spending time going from one family member or foster home to another, and they carry with them vivid memories of what came before whether it was good or bad. For them the process of merging into a new family becomes even more dramatic. Today many children are told early about their adoption and there is a great deal of help available for both adoptive children and adoptive parents. But it has not always been that way. Regardless of the age or the steps leading to a new home, it is quite natural to question what might have been and what it or why.
From the adoptive parent side, knowing there are many exceptions some of which are not healthy, bringing a new child into the home is a choice they make based upon need and love. The love they have may not even be for a specific child, but a love placed in their hearts to love a child and to nurture and raise that needy child. They may be unable to have children by birth and they take this path as another alternative. They may be burdened to help a needy child and to share the incredible love and blessings they have with this child. They may even be relatives who because of a great need in the family take on the raising of a grandchild or a niece or nephew or who adopt the child of their new spouse. All of these point to people who bring into their home and into their hearts a child who they love and fully accept, raising as if born to them. They become their children by choice.
It is this picture of adoption that came to mean so much to this individual. She was raised by loving parents and grandparents, but this did not prevent her from having a difficult time when she found out they weren’t her birth family. But as she came to learn more about her God and what He had done for her when she became saved a huge light bulb went on in her mind and significant change in her heart began to happen.
The Bible says that we are born slaves to sin and that our sin keeps us separated from God. And there was not a single thing we could do about it. We were helpless. But God, because of His great love for us, sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins and to bring us into a new and eternal relationship with Him. In this way we were not just part of the crowd of those who God chose to worship Him forever, but we were made children of God, adopted and given an inheritance with His Son. The Bible assures us that we then become totally accepted and secure, and that there is nothing that can separate us from His hands.
He has put us into an eternal family, knit together by His Spirit. And the reason He did this for us is because He loves us. He knows everything about our past. He knows our greatest needs. He knows all of our hidden secrets. He knows the things we like least about ourselves, and He knows the things that bring us our greatest joy. He loves us. He chose us. He called us. And He adopts us as His own.
As I was thinking on this my mind went to a Bill Gaither hymn, “The Family of God.”
I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God,
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I’m part of the family, the Family of God.
You will notice we say “brother and sister” ’round here,
It’s because we’re a family and these are so near;
When one has a heartache, we all share the tears,
And rejoice in each victory in this family so dear.
From the door of an orphanage to the house of the King,
No longer an outcast, a new song I sing;
From rags unto riches, from the weak to the strong,
I’m not worthy to be here, but praise God I belong!