Is it any wonder, then, that they should take that to its logical extreme and bring in an orphan to love and raise? Today Éowyn and I got to go watch & listen as Judge O'Reilly pronounced them legal and final parents of Glen Graydon, after two years of waiting, working, praying and hoping. It was one of the most encouraging & devotional experiences of my week. Tears were very very near as I heard the judge read out what Graydon is now to them, and what they are to him-- son and heir, with all the rights & priveleges as if born of their bodies, and parents & guardians with all the legal and moral obligations of natural ancestors.
Why was this so touching and encouraging to me? Partly, because I know how amazing it was for Glen & Bethany to hear those words. They never knew if this day would for sure come, and they deeply had hoped it would. To hear that no one could EVER take Graydon from them again was especially amazing to me-- "Little G" was a concurrent foster placement in their home, meaning that they had him as a foster son with no guarantee that he would become legally free for adoption. For the past year and a half, there has been the possibility that he would be reunited with his birth mother, and even after the goal of his placement became "adoption," there was still nothing legal stating that he was their son. But that wasn't why the judge's words sank so deeply into my heart, and why I will forever remember those short, precious 15 minutes in that courtroom.
Here is why:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us, [...] In Him we have obtained an inheritance..." (Ephesians 1:5-11)
"But to all who did receive him, who believed in His (Jesus') name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13)
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Gal. 4:4-7)That courtroom was like a window into my own life. Spiritually, I'm adopted, too.
Graydon has a little brother, Ian. Ian was born to his parents, and Graydon was adopted... and before the eyes of the law, and in the eyes of their parents, there is absolutely no difference between them. Both are their full & legal sons. Anyone who's ever seen them with their parents knows that they really are treated exactly like natural, beloved sons. What absolutely blew (and still is blowing) my mind is that WE, once adopted by God, are treated as His natural Son too: that means that in God's omniscient eyes, we're viewed just like Jesus. We are just as secure, just as loved, just as dear, just as heard, and slated to receive just as much inherintance as... Jesus Christ! WOW! Because of Jesus, we are headed towards a future, an inheritance so amazing that Paul said it made every hardship in this world worth it... He earned the inheritance through agonies and a perfect life, with the full intent of splitting it evenly with all the brothers & sisters His life & death brought into His family. Let that sink in. Wow. Really!!? I get treated to the same lavish love, the same riches, the same favor as Jesus!??? But I don't deserve it! Not at ALL.
That's the marvelous unfairness of mercy and grace, isn't it?
"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." (Romans 8:15-18)
Waiting for Judge O'Reilly (it was so cute to hear Graydon say that!)
They had quite a crowd of witnesses; the officials all commented on it, saying it might be a record of children present for an adoption. Since most of the kids were girls, I chalked it up to Graydon's charm with the ladies...
Lydia, excited and not sure why
Listening to Judge O'Reilly read the statement
Graydon was saying things like "More!" (pictures) and "Judge O'Reilly" and "All done... down?"
Graydon got a totally new identity today; a new name completely unlike his old one; all three names, all new. I found out that he was a junior before-- named after some one from his birth mother's life. Now he's named after someone else; his daddy. Having met both men, I can say that the two are utterly different. I know that Graydon will be much more proud to be named after the man who has set his love on him and is raising him, giving him his name and huge shoes to follow.
That started me thinking about us and our spiritual adoption, too. We also have a birth father-- Jesus called him the father of lies (John 8:44). Nice. We're all born with Satan's last name, you could say. Then we're adopted, re-born, and we get a new name-- God's name. We become Christians. We get a new identity, some one new to imitate and become like.
I actually was talking to Bethany a few Sundays ago about how adopted children tend to look like their adoptive parents. It seems that we imitate the facial expressions and physical mannerisms of those we see most often, and that in turn affects where fat is deposited, influencing face shape and facial features! Amazing! 2 Corinthians 3:18 says that as we look at our new Father --"we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord,"-- we start to look like Him-- "are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another." As John Piper put it, "beholding is becoming." Like Graydon, I know that my new Father is far more worthy of imitation than my first one.
Graydon didn't set out to find Glen & Bethany. He was totally oblivious to everything going on today. He had no idea what he was saved from; no idea what a horror his life could have been. He laughed and smiled and sucked his thumb and waved, and just enjoyed the love of parents he didn't earn, seek, or buy. They just set their love on him, and pursued him. They persevered through every obstacle, and finally made him their own. I didn't go after God-- no one does. No, He had to come after me. He set His love on me, and now I am His. Wow.
I'm never going to forget today. I pray that some of my wonder will lodge in your mind and start you marveling, too.