This past Christmas season, I traveled with my family to Joplin, Missouri to visit my wife’s family; her sister, her sister’s husband, their 2 young girls, and her parents. To say that I love “her side” of the family would be a gross understatement. I am so blessed with the in-laws that I have. In fact, I can’t think of anyone I know with a better relationship with their in-laws than I have.
While we were there, we spent hours together just talking and laughing and enjoying each other’s company. One afternoon, we went out to lunch together–the whole crew of us, all 12. Toward the end of lunch the younger kids were done and since the restaurant was practically empty besides us, they felt comfortable to get out of the chairs and stroll around our long table, stopping to chat with others. My youngest daughter Macy was near the head of the table talking to Aunt Markelle, my wife’s sister.
Markelle is approaching her 6th year of battling stage 4 colon cancer which has since spread to her abdomen and lungs. To look at her, you’d never know it. She’s a gorgeous young woman–vibrant and alive. More than 6 years ago, however Markelle and her husband Chris decided to adopt a beautiful girl from Taiwan and I became the proud uncle of the one-in-a-gazillion “Cate”. Cate was standing next to Macy as Macy talked to Aunt Markelle in that restaurant that day. Macy asked, “Aunt Markelle, is Cate adopted?”
Okay, have you ever seen one of those paper towel commercials where some kid causes some huge messy spill and they somehow freeze frame the spill while it’s still in the air? My immediate thought was, “Oh crap, I have no idea what Markelle and Chris have told Cate about being adopted!!!” To my relief, Markelle said calmly and matter-of-fact to Macy, “Yes, Cate is adopted.” And by the look on Cate’s face at that moment, this was “old news” to her by now.
But that instance and several others since then have compelled me to really dwell on the issue of adoption. Adoption is something talked about in the Bible. It is the very illustration that God chose to use to make clear to us the “transaction” of Him purchasing us for Himself, and bringing us into His family. As adopted sons and daughters, we are rightfully privileged as “heirs with Christ”. We are spiritually and “legally” endowed with the same blessings that God the Father places on God the Son. Take a good long look at Romans 8, beginning in verse 15 (I’m going to type each word, rather than copy and paste them because I need to soak in them again…):
“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s spirit when he ADOPTED you as his own children. Now we call him ‘Abba, Father.’ For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs to God’s glory.”
This truth cannot be understated. It cannot be considered too little. It cannot be studied too closely. This truth in these 3 verses sum up our position as adopted children of God. Just as Chris and Markelle CHOSE to begin the adoption process through mounds of paperwork, CHOSE to spare no expense, CHOSE to fly to Taiwan, CHOSE to take that precious child into their arms, their care, their home, and their family….so God CHOSE to lavish His love upon humanity. God CHOSE to spare no expense–not even the life of His only Son–to purchase me into His family. Everything that belongs to a member of God’s family now belongs to me. Every blessing bestowed on a child of God is now bestowed on me. Every peace, every security, every bit of love given to any one person adopted by God is given to me. Now I have it. Now it is mine. Now I am His. Now HE is mine. He is my parent. I am His son. I’m not “kinda” His child. I am HIS fully. Neither Chris nor Markelle has ever, is now, or will ever feel anything but complete love and total care for Cate. Cate is not “kinda” anything. She is FULLY family. Everything that is theirs is hers. Every privilege, every blessing, every part of what it means to be in their family is hers to the fullest. And I suspect that as Cates grows older, she will understand even more of just how perfect a picture her life is of what God has done for her, for me, and for anyone who receives His invitation to come.
My wife and I are currently reading through “Choosing To See” by Mary Beth Chapman. She is the wife of the well-known and loved Steven Curtis Chapman, the Christian music artist. I’ve been a huge fan of his music ever since my youth and it’s awesome to read the story “behind the music” and what was going on at home while I enjoyed tune after tune of his. Let me pause here and urge you to purchase this book and read it. What…a…blessing.
The other day Merritt and I were sitting at the kitchen table, reading another chapter aloud to each other. It was my turn to read and I was reading the story of when Steven Curtis, Mary Beth, and their 3 biological children traveled to China and first met and held their first adopted daughter, Shaohannah. I read the details of the unfathomable love and instant transformation that came over Mary Beth in the simple act of taking into her arms this precious child, now HERS. I was just overcome with emotion as I read Mary Beth’s new connection in her spirit as she understood in a new and profound way just how God looks at her. And even as a parent who has not adopted, I can look at my own kids and get a taste for the incomprehensible love of God for me and for you and for all. There I was, sitting at my kitchen table with tears rolling down my cheeks at the mind-blowing love of the Father for me.
What have I in the world to say to God but “Yes!” and “I’m all yours!” and “Take me into your family!” and “I don’t know why you want me, but I’m so glad you do!” Just like at that lunch table with my family, I can imagine an angel in heaven asking God the Father, “Hey God, is Jerry adopted?” And with a smile God replies, “Yes. Yes he is.”