Given my own background as an adopted child, it is totally impossible for me to talk about this topic without a flood of emotions and reflections.
We have some fantastic families in our church who have adopted children, having reached out to adopt either across racial categories in our country, or travelling even to remote parts of the earth to bring children home to a better place.
When you are adopted at a very young age and have no memories of any other household, it seems totally normal to be in the only home you’ve ever known. However, at some point you come to learn and know more about your past. In my situation, it never very seriously dawned upon me that anyone else was a parent other than the two people I had always called “mom and dad.” Being that they were in actuality my biological grandparents, they were older than the parents of my friends. I do remember just one occasion where my mom went with me as a parent chaperon on a school field trip, and I recall looking at her and the other mothers and making note that she was clearly older than the rest. But I never thought upon it more deeply than making a passing observation.
It was not until I was about eight or nine years old (in 3rd grade, I believe) that my parents sat me down one evening and told me my real story. Though I knew my true mother (but never, ever met my actual father), I was not as close to her as many other relatives. And since there was an open strain between she and her mother (my adopted mom), I often did not have a high view of her in those years. Hearing that she was actually my mother was a terrible moment. I came entirely unglued and melted down emotionally for a brief time. But it was truly brief. It did not take long for the reasoning process to enlighten me to the true understanding that I had been the fortunate recipient of great grace and privilege as compared to what might have been. And that appreciation has only grown more deeply over the years.
And so it is for us, spiritually speaking, as we come to understand the wonderful grace we have received in our adoption by God. As Paul writes to the Ephesians, he speaks of praise to the Father, and of how we’ve been blessed in the heavenly realms … and of the riches of a grace lavished on us.
And just as a child has nothing to do with his adoption and only learns of it much later, our spiritual adoption was done for us very early. In fact, it is so early that it predates us, or anyone else! Yep, we were picked out by God before the creation of the world!! Wow, that is amazing. And surely it supports the view that it is not because we were just so cute that God got all mushy and chose us. As it says in Romans, the situation is better described as on the other end of the spectrum – while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
One of the women that I’ve gotten to know a bit over the past year of association with the Kingdom United Fellowship has a very unique and colorful way of expressing the joy of her faith on social media. I have seen her on a couple of occasions write something like, “I’m just God’s special little girl, He loves me so much!” And I told her once that I thought this was actually good theology! It is not to say that God loves any of us who are his children more than the others, but that He loves us so much as to have given His best for us when we were at our worst.
Imagine growing up in the finest and most beautiful home in the county, set upon a hillside overlooking the most stunning vistas. Your every need is cared for and met by wonderful parents. And like my story above, you are told one day that you are not actually their biological child. Rather, you learn that your original family lives in poverty and dysfunction, even as your natural father is imprisoned upon death row. Would you not grow to rather quickly have an amazement about the great fortune that has come to you – to be where you are rather than where you might have been?
That illustration does not begin to capture the spiritual grace we have by our divine adoption. There is great health is our possessing a proper identity of our family relationship with the Father, through the Son, sealed by the Spirit. We are blessed … for now, and for eternity.
Ephesians 1:3 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us.