Understanding Adoption

Orphans or adopted sons and daughters?

That question has been a motif in my Wednesday night small group as we discuss the gospel and its implications in our lives.  Do we truly believe and live as though we are what Scripture authoritatively declares us to be -- the adopted children of God?  Or do we instead live from a defensive position of trying to justify ourselves, not really willing to fully trust that God really loves us and will never abandon us, never sigh and shake His head and give up on us when we mess up one time too many?

(I'm so grateful to my family for teaching me about adoption in practical, not just theoretical ways!)

It's a question that strikes close to home for me, because adoption (and issues surrounding it) is a language that I'm fluent in.  I know all about what it means for someone to be adopted.  I know all about what it's like when a child, despite their legal and social standing as truly a member of the family, refuses to trust it, instead relying on their own radically inadequate abilities to provide an identity and security for themselves.  Having a brother with severe attachment disorder, I feel like I'm well versed in all of the ugliness and heartbreak that it brings.

And yet.  And yet.

As I sat on the couch on Wednesday night and looked at the questions in our study guide, I found myself thinking, I am no different.  I have an attachment disorder.

Oh, sure, I know all the right answers.  I know that God has called me and loves me, that He knew my name before He laid the foundations of the earth, that He rejoices over me, that nothing will separate me from him.  But I don't always live like it, and I've appreciated how deeply and gently this study and the other people in my group are calling me out on that.  I worry about things that I will need in the future rather than trusting that God will provide them.  I am defensive when criticized rather than finding security in the knowledge that my identity is ultimately found in Christ.  I long for affirmation from other people rather than being content in being known and loved by God.

Jars of Clay put it well in their song Out of My Hands:

I act like an orphan
Forget that You found me
But You came like a whisper
And saved me with a spark

It's out of my hands
It was from the start
In light of what You've done for me
In light of what You've done for me
You lifted my head
Set me apart

So what to do with my wayward, untrusting, desperately sick heart?  Confess it to God, confess it to others: my heart is still often hard, often asking for stones rather than bread because I'm afraid of being disappointed.  And then I should rest securely, knowing that God loves me even when I don't trust Him.  (How easy it is to slip into sneaky varieties of justification by works, believing that God is only happy with me when I'm obeying Him perfectly, with perfect motivations.)  My identity is in Him and that can never be changed.  What an awesome reason for rejoicing and to worship God!

A final link:  Nathan Partain's song A Son of God.  Lyrics here and listen here.

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