Last week, I saw the gospel. I didn’t hear it – I saw it. It was not in a church, or on a mission trip, or at vacation bible school. It was in a sleepy little town in the Arkansas Delta in a time-worn courthouse whose walls could’ve told countless tales had they been able to speak.
As we waited in the courtroom for other court proceedings to be completed, the 10-month old snacked on crackers, played with toys, drank from his sippy cup; completely oblivious to the fact that his very future hinged on the decision that would be handed down in mere moments.
Our friends raised their right hands and swore to truthfully testify before the judge. They were asked by the attorneys, “Are you fully aware of the circumstances surrounding this child’s birth and why he was placed in the foster care system?” “Is it your intention to raise this child as your own; with all of the positives and negatives that go along with it?” To all of these they answered an unwavering and unhesitating “yes.” They had decided long before this day that he would be theirs.
For the past three years, our friends had been burdened with the desire for another child – one that they would not biologically parent, but one who would be grafted into their family as though he shared their DNA. During the marathon of interviews, home studies, paperwork, social workers, more interviews, classes, and frustration with the glacial pace of the system, they clung to the certainty that God had led them to this place – brought this child to them.
As I witnessed this legal proceeding making this little baby boy an “official” member of this family, I couldn’t help but see the gospel. He was far away from a stable, loving family at birth. He had no real family. He needed someone to take him in; to give him what he could not give himself. He needed a home.
Finally, the judge granted the petition to adopt and change this little guy’s name. The name he was given at birth was no more. That was no longer his identity. He was now his father’s son.
My camera was clicking away at all the smiling, tearful faces, but I couldn’t help but thinking to myself that this is who I was – who all believers were. Lost and without a home – orphans – until Christ our advocate said to God, the judge, “This one’s mine. I redeem her. She is now my child and receives every right and privilege of my daughter.”
I also felt a painfully convicting feeling. “Why don’t I live like God sees me?” I thought. Why do I fret constantly over perfection, others’ acceptance of me, and whether or not I measure up? As my father who has adopted me into his family through Christ, He rejoices over me. I’ll admit I rarely think about him in this way and rarely live like it.
I want to live like this sweet, precious little child. I have been taken in, given a new name, loved unconditionally – died for. That’s something to celebrate. It’s time I started.