As many of you know, a couple of years ago, my husband and I felt led to pursue adopting three sisters from Ukraine. In fact, we learned about the girls from a guest on The 700 Club.
In the beginning, our objective was to give the girls a family and keep them from being split up. We weren’t long into the process when we began to realize that we were caught up in something much bigger and more complicated than we had ever imagined. Paperwork, waiting, preparations, financial commitments, roadblocks! – And that’s just the physical stuff. Spiritually, we were being stretched and changed as we learned to trust God more deeply.
We soon dubbed this unique experience – The God Adventure. We knew from the get-go that we were in over our heads and if God didn’t show up and guide us through it, we were doomed to failure. God did show up every inch of the way—and He’s still guiding us from day to day. He is faithful and trustworthy!
We’re blessed with three new daughters, the girls are reading God’s Word and realizing He has a plan and purpose for their lives and nine of us are learning to live together in harmony and appreciate each other’s differences – well, we’re still believing for that last part. We’re in process, and MOST days we’re moving forward.
As I’ve sat back and thought about all of this, God has used our adoption of the girls to show me some amazing parallels of His adopting us into His family.
1) Before the girls even knew we existed, we were thinking about them and preparing for them to join us. We loved them before they were actually ours. We had to travel all the way to Ukraine to get them. And the adoption process is an expensive one.
The Bible says God knew us when we were being formed in our mother’s womb. He loved us before we knew anything about Him. He has prepared a place for us and it is in Him. He is willing to go to great lengths to get us, and He has paid a great price to make us His own.
2) Part of the adoption process was giving the girls a new name. Legally, our name became their name – our home their home!! When we commit our lives to Jesus, we become Christians. As we live in Him and He lives in us, we begin to look more and more like Him. His ways become our ways. We are set free from our old identity and our past and we walk in newness of life.
When we walked out of the orphanage, our girls smelled differently than we did. It was an institutional smell. We took them to our hotel and gave them all kinds of packages and gifts we’d bought for them. Shampoo, toothpaste, body lotion, cologne – we supplied everything they needed to be clean and beautiful.
God does the same thing for us. When He first finds us, we usually smell like the world. He wraps us in His love, washes us in the blood of Jesus, fills our hearts and minds with His Word, and floods us with His Holy Spirit. We begin to smell and look like we belong to Him.
3) Finally, we went to court and before a judge declared our intention and desire to make the girls a legal, permanent part of our family. The judge’s finalization and approval meant that our girls were now legal heirs to all that we possess.
You know, it’s that way with God. When we become His children we inherit all that is His – and it’s forever. He doesn’t have favorites – it’s true for all of His children, and there is enough for everyone.
“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” Galatians 4:4-7 NIV
Go Away, Lord!
John Upchurch, author, crosswalk.com
But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:8)
And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5)
And [Adam] said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:10)
Here’s the truth. There have been times in my life when I’ve wanted God to just go away. Now, don’t act shocked. I’m no different than Peter … or Isaiah before him … or Adam and Eve before him. Like all of those God-dodgers, I’ve been exposed, naked before my Creator, and I don’t like it.
The reason why is simple: being exposed means seeing my dirt. I look down and suddenly God’s showing me what I really look like. There’s narcissism splattered on my chest, little white lies running down my arms, and impurity gunking up my legs. I’m tangled and tattered, twisted and torn. And all of this because God’s pure awesomeness shines right through the things I’ve put up to cover all that.
He’s not fooled.
So, I do exactly what most of us do … if we’re honest with ourselves. Instead of asking Him to draw closer and peel off the layers of grime, I try to block out the light and withdraw. You see, that whole draw-close-to-me-and-I’ll-draw-close-to-you thing works. Maybe it works too well. Because when it works, God does more than just hang out. He points out. He speaks out. He makes us miserable about the sin we hide or ignore.
It’s no wonder Isaiah cried out in anguish when He saw God and God saw him. His filthy mouth couldn’t be ignored anymore. And it’s no wonder Peter asked Jesus to go away. His lifestyle could no longer be justified with deity in his boat. And Adam and Eve? Well, they had nothing left to hide behind. They knew they were caught.
I love that the Bible doesn’t try to prettify these flawed people. God’s Word lays it out there with all the grit and grime intact. I love that because it makes Scripture seem immediate, in my face. I can’t pretend that my flaws are nothing to worry about when God makes sure I see theirs. In all their cowardly glory. Just like mine.
So, what’s God’s response to all this … to my hiding, to my wanting Him to go away? Really, it boils down to this: “Get some courage, man; I’ve got work for you to do.” Or, if you want to be technical, here’s what Jesus said to the cowering Peter: “Don’t be afraid; from now on you’ll catch men.”
I’m flawed; I’m fickle. Sometimes, I just want God to leave me alone to wallow in my filth. But He’s not so easily put off. Just like with Peter, He stands me up and sends me on my way. My humanness doesn’t keep Him from using me to share His good news—scars, bruises, and all. Even if sometimes I’d rather He not shine so much light on them.
“Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” – Isaiah 40:11 NASB
Cleland Boyd McAfee spent most of his life in ministry. Born in Missouri on this day in 1866, he pastored churches but also spent almost twenty years at Park College, serving as faculty, chaplain, and choir director. He also taught at McCormick Theological Seminary.
In 1903, he faced a crisis as two of his nieces died from diphtheria. As he dealt with his grief, McAfee wrote a hymn called “There Is a Place of Quiet Rest.”
He wrote about a place that was “near to the heart of God.” It was a place “where sin cannot molest,” a place “of comfort sweet,” where we meet our Savior, a place of “full release … where all is joy and peace.” As McAfee prayed, “O Jesus, blest Redeemer, sent from the heart of God, hold us who wait before Thee near to the heart of God.”
As we face life’s problems, it can be hard to rest in God, and it’s easy to be worried or afraid. When we go through conflicts, we can become anxious. When we have uncertainty or loss, we can become tense. But the Bible reminds us that the Lord is our Shepherd. He is ready to lead us and gather us in His arms.
Today, still your heart. Enter that place of quiet rest. Commit every situation you face to God. Let Him take away your burdens and give you His peace.