“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” – 1 John 3:1
While it is a fairly uncommon term in the Old Testament, “Father” seems to be Jesus’ favorite term for addressing God. In fact, so much so, he is recorded using the term over 160 times in the Gospels. He teaches the disciples to address God as Father (Matthew 6:9) and gives us all, no matter our natural born family, the opportunity to “become children of God” (John 1:12). Previously, God was not our Father, but in Christ, we are now included as siblings in the family of God. While there are many metaphors used to describe our relationship with God, I believe this is a particularly powerful one. One with many implications and one that is put on display for the world to see when we say “yes” to caring for vulnerable children.
In 2012, our family embarked on a journey that would forever change us. God asked me to leave the job I had wanted since age 5 and open our home to children in foster care. It wasn’t the plan I had envisioned, but God continued to ask us to trust him. So, in obedience, we did. Thus began a roller-coaster ride of back and forth, hope and heartache, brokenness & beauty. Seven years later, we officially adopted our daughter.
On that adoption decree, there was a line that stuck out to me, which said: “It is further ordered that said child shall for all intents and purposes be considered the natural child of such adopting parents, and shall be entitled to the same rights and privileges which she had been the natural heir of such adopting parents.”
So, our daughter who was not born naturally to us, is now legally considered our natural child. She has all of the rights and privileges she would receive had she been born to us. She received a new birth certificate with a new name and is now as much a part of our family as our 2 biological children are. Forever! With this decree of adoption, it is now as if she were always our child.
In Galatians 4:4-6, Paul talks about something very similar: “But when the 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 the full rights as sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out “Abba, Father.”
When we accept Jesus’ invitation to become part of God’s family, we have been given an adoption decree that says we are now forever a part of God’s family. By faith in God’s unrelenting, extravagant love that we get to call him “Abba, Father.”
The other night, while putting her to bed, my adopted daughter said, “Mom, I’ve been adopted TWICE! Once into our family and once into God’s family. You’ve only gotten to be adopted once.” Even at her young age she recognized that we all have privilege of being adopted by our Heavenly Father, and sees it as extra special that she’s been adopted twice. What a blessing that, no matter our relationship with our earthly father, we get to be called children of God.
Written by Vanessa Wilkins, Foster Care Director at Hands of Hope