Monday, July 8, 2013

The Grace of Adoption

In ESL my class, I often say, "Would you like to hear a story?"  My students may not be children anymore, but they never turn me down.  When I'm lucky sometimes they turn around and tell stories to me.  

One summer day a student began a story with this intriguing sentence, "I am studying medicine because my dad is such a responsible doctor."  I smiled encouragingly at her, waiting for some tale about how he told her stories from work. I guessed wrong.  He brought something quite different home.

One day walking down the hall past the wards her dad overheard a conversation which included the word "strangle."  Appalled and angry, he opened the door to find two brand new parents hovering over a cradle.  Two little girls waited for them at home, and they had no intention of making it three.  He forbade them, then went to find his wife the nurse.  Tenderly, together, they took that little girl home to be the first of their two daughters.

I live in a developing country, and I have some sympathy with the cultural and economic pressures that cause such tragedies.  Nonetheless, I was stunned by the grace that was displayed that day.  Betrayed by the people that God had given her to, parents who owed her a mother's love and a father's protection, she truly had nothing. A little girl fated for abandonment or murder instead received parents, siblings, and a home. That's the picture of grace.

Her story mirrors Israel's and ours.  Ezekiel tells the story of the Patriarchs and the Exodus with a twist.  In Ezekiel 16 he pictures a man who is walking by a field and sees an abandoned baby girl left lying in the blood of her birth, unwashed, unwrapped, unloved.  Saving the baby's life, the man passes on.  Later passing her again, he sees that she is full grown, beautiful, and desirable so he marries her.  

In the same way, God, unbidden, chose Abraham out of all the people on earth.  He made a covenant with him that lasted through Jacob's foolishness and his sons betrayal of Joseph.  That covenant was renewed with power. Passing by again God rescued the people from their Egyptian slavery and brought them to Mt. Sinai.  The people of Israel were chosen, adopted, saved by God. 

I have heard people describe the God of the Old Testament using graceless language, but they really don't understand.  God's choosing of Israel, outside of any particular merit of theirs, is the very essence of grace.  The abandoned and unworthy gathered in to become people of privilege, loved and adored. 

Ephesians 1 renews the vision for a new covenant.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)

Before you were made, before Adam was made, before the world was made God decided that through His beloved son we would be His.  Chosen. It would have been more than enough to be a people chosen for Him - priests of God Almighty, but He wasn't done.  He loved us and through that beloved Son He did something else. He adopted us.  We were nothing and less than nothing.  We were His enemies when He decided instead to make us His sons (Romans 5:10).  No wonder that Paul says that this is "to the praise of the glory of His grace."  

My student, as she told me the story, was praising her father. She is the only biological child of her parents.  Her sister was the baby in the story.  She understood grace. Beaming with pride she told me she wanted to be just like her dad.   

The Grace of Adoption: God's Story and Ours: Maidservants Of ChristI want to be like my Father too.  I want to let everyone know that he loves the unlovely, chooses the leftovers, and makes sons of His enemies.  Praise God for his amazing grace!


Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE(R), Copyright(c) 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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