A New Name, A New Family

African American father and son text messaging on cell phone.This article was first published in Prison Fellowship’s Inside Journal.

We knew his face long before he saw ours.

Three years ago, we saw his picture for the first time. An 18-month-old toddler with no known parents and no known name. From the other side of the world, we gave him a name. We became his parents. He became our son.

And three years later, when he was four-and-a-half, we held him in our arms for the first time. The little boy we had known all along finally started getting to know us—his “Mommy” and “Papa.”

It is a story of adoption. It is a story of the lost being found. It is a story about God.

You see, from the day my husband and I began the long journey to make a little boy from halfway across the world our son, I began to realize that adoption was just as much about me as it was my son. We had pursued our son through hours of grueling paperwork, dozens of foster care fees, and countless prayers. In a similar way God, my Heavenly Father, had been pursuing me since before the world was made, long before I existed.

In the Psalms, David describes how God knew him long before he was even conceived: “You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. (Psalm 139: 15-16, NLT).

As the days and weeks passed, and unexpected legal and bureaucratic delays made the adoption of our son drag out, we were faced with the reality that this adoption would end up costing us more than we had anticipated. Every month that we could not bring him home was one more month of payments to our son’s foster care family—money we wished we could have been putting toward his college fund instead. Still, our son was worth it, and we were willing to pay whatever it took to have him well cared for in our absence.

Similarly, when God decided to make me His child, he did so at the ultimate cost to Himself; He adopted me at the expense of His Son’s life. The Bible says that we are all orphans, lost and alone without a Heavenly Father, and that God willingly sacrificed His own Son Jesus—His beloved child—to make orphans like you and me His dear sons and daughters.

In Romans 8:32, the Apostle Paul describes the lavishness of God’s love for us: “Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?”

God was willing to pay for our lives with the cost of his most precious possession—His Son. The cost my husband and I incurred to adopt our son cannot even begin to compare.

Now that our son is safely home, we are adjusting to life as a new family. Particularly, our son is adjusting to life in a new continent, culture, and climate. Some days, he is happy and content. Other days, he is confused, angry, and sad. Some days, he wraps his arms around me and whispers in my ear that he loves me. Other days, he turns away from me, ignores what I say, or openly disobeys me. And despite my many failures as a parent, I do my best to love him with firmness and kindness no matter how he is treating me.

Often in our relationship with God, we are fickle, too. Some days, we sidle up next to Him with praises on our lips. Other days, we’d rather have nothing to do with Him. Similar to what my son feels, coming into God’s family sometimes feels happy, sometimes scary, sometimes confusing. Often He asks us to do things that seem foreign, strange, and difficult. Rather than obey Him, we turn away and do our own thing. And on our worst days, we even run full speed away from Him or fight against Him, much the way my son often fights and pushes against me. Thankfully, the Father’s love is not dependent on our affection or attitude toward Him.

In fact, Paul says that “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8, NLT)

Over and over again, the Bible talks about how much God cares for orphans. He is described as “a father to the fatherless.” He cares for the literal orphans, those like my son with no known biological parents. But he cares for spiritual orphans as well. Those like you and me who, through sin, have given up our relationship with our Heavenly Father. We are the “fatherless” who need to be adopted.

I’m so thankful that God chose to adopt me and give me a new name—His name—and a new family, the family of God. What about you? Do you need to be adopted, too?

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