For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. –Romans 8:14-17
When Jordon was about three, having lived with us for about a year, I overheard him talking to two of Noah’s friends after church. He pointed to Ben’s father and said, “That you’s Daddy?” Ben smiled and nodded yes. He then pointed to Jack’s father and said, “That you’s Daddy?” Jack said, “Yep.” Then he pointed to Nathan and he said, “That mine’s Daddy.” At this point of Jordon’s life , Nathan was not his Daddy, although in every action he was acting as if he were. Jordon had an absent father. By the time Jordon was three all indications were leaning to the fact that he, as well as Emma, would become permanent members of our family. I can give witness to the difference between being like family and being fully, securely adopted into one. Even at four and six, Emma and Jordon understood the difference between being fostered and being adopted. There was fear and misplacement in being fostered. There was security and comfort in being adopted. Before the gavel was hammered on Judge Huddleston’s desk, she asked the children if there was anything they would like to say. As it would be today, Emma would bow her head and pretend she did not hear the question to avoid having to speak in public, but Jordon stood up in his chair and declared, “Noah is now my official, legal brother!”
When children have been living in your house for two years, calling you Mom and Dad, sharing in your life and you in theirs; When you have fed, cleaned, clothed, comforted and disciplined those children for those two years, and then you go before a judge who with one sentence declares you a forever family, absolutely nothing changes while at the very same time everything changes. Emma and Jordon would no longer have to ask, “Where do I belong?” They were, are,and forever more shall be a Jones. They belong with us.
As I think of the Spirit of God, I can not help but think of the duty He received to be the Comforter. The Spirit who helps us to cry out Abba, Father, with the intimacy and easy relationship of a small child seeking the love and attention of his Daddy, knowing because He loves us so, he will pick us up. It is through the Spirit, we are made like that child in our relationship with God. The Spirit reminds us over and over, “You are a child of God. You are loved and you are cherished. You have a Good Father who chose you, redeemed you, and has prepared for your future.” The same comfort and ease I saw on the face of Emma, who suffered in the limbo of being her former self and becoming a Jones. When the gavel fell, she was visibly relieved. She now knew where she belonged and to whom she belonged. There was no more indecision. She knew she had a good father. She could rest in his promise of loving and caring for her forever. Her identity secured in adoption.
I often wonder if I fully comprehend and receive this from the Spirit. Do I see God moving in my life and without hesitation point to it and say, “That mine’s Daddy?” I wonder if I struggle in accepting and fulfilling my identity, because I am unwilling to accept that I have been adopted by God, redeemed from my former self, into this forever family? As I work to embrace my one true identity, child of God, I must allow the Spirit to move me to understanding God as my Abba, Daddy.
My children are gifted with an amazing Dad. Nathan’s ability as a father is among the most frequent reasons I am stirred to love him more. He is patient, long suffering and empathetic in ways I am convinced I will never be. Our children have, since they were small,been just as likely to go to him for comfort and affection as they are to come to me. There is no doubt in their mind that he loves them completely and he has proven to them beyond a shadow of a doubt that if he is needed, he is there, even if they don’t know they need him. As I witness, Nathan parenting our children, I am convicted that while Nathan is an amazing father, his love is limited. God’s love is not. If our children can blatantly disobey, break treasured items, fail and act in all manner of foolishness, but then turn to Nathan and know that in him they will find forgiveness, encouragement, and unyielding love, how much more can I find in the love of God. If I can understand and fully accept this adoption; understand that He has sent His Spirit to dwell within me, reminding me of my new name and forever family as His child, how could I be overcome with fear?