Friday, March 7, 2008


About a half-dozen years ago, my friend Daza and her husband Jack decided to adopt a little girl from Russia. This involved two separate journeys to Russia: one to get the legal paperwork completed and meet their new daughter, and a second journey once the paperwork was approved by the Russian government to get the child and bring her home. On the first trip, they spent as much time as possible with their little girl. She had been living in the orphanage for about a year after losing her mother. Daza and Jack bonded with the five year-old child immediately. The language barrier seemed not to matter as they spent time blowing bubbles and playing with her in the orphanage yard. Daza brought a picture book with photographs of her two boys and other extended family members to leave with the little girl to help her learn the names of her new family. It just about broke their hearts when the day came to leave. They left her with tears and promises to return just as soon as they could.

Several months passed as they waited impatiently back in the States. Finally the day came when they received notice the adoption had been approved. As quickly as it could be arranged, Daza and Jack made the journey back to the other side of the world. As they drove toward the orphanage, they worried that their new daughter would not remember them. What if she didn’t want to go with them? Would she be willing to leave everything familiar to go to a new home?

As they approached the orphanage door, their little girl burst through it from the inside. “Mama! Papa!” she cried. And she rushed into their waiting arms. It was an unforgettable moment as all three cried tears of happiness that they were finally together again, this time for good.

As we listened to Daza recount the story days later, I was awestruck with how much she and Jack had already fallen head over heals in love with this little girl. The bond between them was as strong as any natural parent has with their child. She had moved into the home and hearts of her new family and already had her two big brothers wrapped around her little finger. No one could imagine life without her. She was a full sister and daughter in every sense of the word. Her parents would provide for her until she was an adult. Someday she would inherit one third of her parents’ estate along with her two brothers. Her rights and privileges as a family member were secure.

The word “adoption” is used five times in the New Testament. Paul’s usage of the term came from Hellenistic usage and Roman law. In Roman times, adoption was serious and permanent. An adopted son was considered the same as a son born into a family. He could no longer inherit from his natural father. As far as his former family was concerned, he was dead. His new relationship superseded all former family ties.

Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:5-14 that we have been adopted as sons of God through Jesus Christ. Along with that special family status, we have obtained an inheritance. The Holy Spirit was given to us as a pledge to our future inheritance, a guarantee to reassure us that our adoption is permanent and secure. It is a beautiful metaphor for the new relationship we have with God which begins at the time of our salvation. The paperwork is finished-- it is a done deal. While the inheritance is in our future, the family tie has already been made. No one can undo what God has accomplished. Our position is secure.

Like most out-of-country adoptions, our adoption came at a great price. Our heavenly Father had a debt to pay before we could be legally His. We were in slavery to sin. His payment set us free and enabled us to become a part of His family. God gave what was most precious to Him to pay the adoption price: the life of His Son. “Therefore, you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:7)

We were as helpless and without hope as a little girl wishing for a mommy and daddy to take her in as their own. He reached out His arms and pulled us into His warm embrace. We now enjoy the privileges of sonship as we live here on earth, with the knowledge that an inheritance awaits us in the future. All through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

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