Adoption—The Heart of God

The story of the Bible is the story of adoption.
The Scriptures give examples: Moses (Exodus 2:10), Israel (Exodus 4), and Esther (Esther 2:7).
Happy endings to miserable starts.
The condensed version of what God has done is described in Galatians.
“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father! Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God." Galatians 4:4-7.

But there’s much more involved in adoption.

Before we even knew we were fatherless, God planned to make us His.

“…just as God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace….In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, .…we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,…you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:3-14.

In our family’s story of adopting, we had started praying for a ministry. I no longer changed diapers and nursed babies. My baby was now a toddler. I slept through the night and felt almost “normal” again. I told my husband, “I have so much energy and time!”

My husband’s parents were raising two of our niece’s children. 
When our niece returned to prison after birthing another child, the child was brought to them.
He was too much for them.
We made plans to take Michael for our own.
He was 18 months old.

When God pursued us, we weren’t cute, adorable little babies, just waiting to be loved.
He had made us for a relationship with Him. Yet we choose to ignore His wishes and go our own way.
Here’s God’s description of us:

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins…sons of disobedience…children of wrath. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:3-10.

God hates sin. He couldn’t look at it. He turned His back on His Son when He took it on Himself at the cross.
Yet He pursued us.

When we received Michael, he didn’t want to belong to us. He did what he wanted. He rolled his eyes back in his head and was unreachable. He’d bang his head against the cement floor  and scream when he didn’t get what he wanted, although he couldn't talk yet. He’d run away from me, hide, and not want to be found. He wouldn’t answer when we called, nor care if he obeyed.
He was hard to love.

Because God couldn’t bare sin, He planned to redeem us—to make us His.
He sent His Son.
The righteous Judge paid the penalty for the accused, making it possible for us to be His sons.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,' in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

We didn’t want Michael to be tossed from one family to another—“trying” to raise Michael.  (Parenting isn’t for short-term “attempts.”)
So we applied for the right papers: legal guardianship, initially. Adoption later.
Those papers helped when Michael’s father wanted him.
My husband said he could visit but the courts had decided he would live with us.
His dad didn’t stay out of prison long enough to visit.

God pursued us, bought us with His blood, and made us belong.
As adopted children, we don’t ask to see the legal papers to know we are part of the family. We know we belong because the Spirit reassures us.

In the Jewish culture, God was referred to reverently and awe.
But when Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He said, “Our Father.”
The disciples began to see God, not as Judge ready to pounce on wrong but as a loving Father—not as Law-giver (even though He was and still is), but as Friend.
“Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:6-7.

“Christ redeemed us…in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:13-14.

We initially committed to care for Michael until his mother was out of prison and able to resume his care. When she visited, we wondered about Michael’s confusion when she told him her name was “mom.”

With time, she saw he belonged with us. She changed from “mom” to her name.
I was the only one who truly answered his cry for “mom.”

When God made Abram His son, He gave him a new name.
Abram’s name was changed to Abraham.
Jacob was changed to Israel when God promised him an inheritance.
Saul became Paul when God gave him purpose.

And so with Michael.
We initially thought to keep his name, but as the adoption process extended, we needed to give him a fresh start.
His father fought our decision. Would we deny him a son named after him?
My husband stood resolved.  We now had the right, not only as legal parents but also as providers and protectors of our son. He would bear no image of another.
Even his birth certificate was changed from Michael to Jeremiah Albert Contreras.

So like what God has done for us. He’s changed our history from children of wrath and made us sons of His with a name to reflect Him.

That ability to call God our Father also allowed us to receive the blessings of a son.

“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery, leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:14-17.

In the Roman culture, when a man didn’t have a son, it was common to adopt a son to be his heir and to carry on his name.
We aren’t God’s sons to glory in our position, but to fulfill a purpose. He expects us to bare His image, to reflect Him.
“We are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God an fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” Romans 8:16-17.

God didn’t expect us to instantly be like Him. He sent His Spirit to train us—to conform us to Himself.
“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Romans 8:14.

When Jeremiah became ours, he had to obey our rules. I didn’t teach him another family’s rules. I only expected him to follow ours.
He must, like our other sons, reflect our name, learn responsibility, dependability, truthfulness…things we taught our other boys.

When he was younger, we use to have a saying, painstakingly repeated every day, “Underwear goes on first.” Why? He would be dressed, thinking he was ready and his underwear would be on the floor.  Or he’d try to put it on after his pants…or I would just sigh and wonder how long I would have to dress this kid.

Training develops habits that will effect him for the rest of his life.
Others should recognize he is ours by how he acted.

God has planned some great things for His children!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” I Peter 1:3-5.

We want to leave a legacy of good things.

“The Spirit Himself testifies with our Spirit that we are children of God and if children, heirs, also heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”  Romans 8:16-17.

This inheritance is not without suffering.
Why must we suffer as God’s sons?
So others know Whose we are.

God allows His sons to remain in a world that hurts.
But by hurting, His sons show they belong to God.
When we praise God as we suffer, people know we belong to God.

When a boy is insulted, he ignores it. But insult that boy’s mom and he fights. Why? He is willing to suffer, to fight, to get pounded on to defend his mom’s honor.

That’s what happens as children of God. We defend God’s name to a watching world.
When we do, God promises glory.

Some of the suffering comes from our past when we belonged to another.

Jeremiah couldn’t help that his mother took drugs when he was developing, but he still suffers the consequences.
His brain center that should have developed “cause and effect” is underdeveloped.  He struggled to learn his alphabet, because “a” sounds like “ahh” today, but tomorrow, he couldn’t remember. It took two years for him to learn his letter sounds.
That cause and effect is essential for learning discipline too. Chores must be done every day. But rules are forgotten.

We still wrestle with the old and new nature. Which will win today?

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is not seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees! But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it." Romans 8:22-25.

Creation waits for God to make all things right. So do I.
Some adopted children have deformities caused by their parents.
Those are part of the sufferings and groanings of creation.  
We wait, but not without hope.
God gives a promise.

I weary of repetitive training. Rules are ignored. Some made especially for him because he needs more guidance. His conscience doesn’t prick him. Consequences aren’t considered. I groan as I correct him for the same thing every day.
If I hadn’t trained seven other boys, I’d doubt my parenting skills. Some days I still do. I’d wonder if God really meant, “Don’t spare the rod.” I’d question, Children are a blessing from the Lord?

But God gives hope…not of today’s cheap prizes, but of a reward that can’t be taken away.

Which leads me to the final given…
Not by the recipient. We did nothing to earn our sonship.
But God paid much. He gave His only Son to make us heirs of His promise.

Our human parallels seem insignificant.
Adoption through the legal courts was extensive and expensive.
But that didn’t begin to express the cost to maintain his sonship.
The training, energy, time, work—all to form him into our family’s image is daunting.
The cost of the legal documents was just the beginning.
So with God. He makes us sons at great cost to Him. He poured out His life for us, while we were still sinners. Yet that wasn’t the end, but the beginning.  
Even with the new nature, we rebel and want our own way.
God’s Spirit comes beside us and shows us the better way, His way.  He disciplines us as sons. He brings us to mirror His image.

Jesus told his disciples, “I will not leave as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18.
Unconditional love for life. Adoption is permanent.

The story of the Bible is the story of adoption. God chose us when we were rotten sinners to bring God glory through the patient, pain-staking correction of His Spirit.
The cost doesn’t seem worth it.
There’s no guarantee that child will even obey and reflect His image accurately.
So why does He do it?
The answer is His love.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” Romans 5:8-10.

As Jeremiah has learned to obey, we see him blossoming into the image of the God we serve.
Yes, we still must correct, more times than I want to count. It’s hard for me to see those changes. I still must daily remind him of the little things.

But he’s progressed beyond “Underwear goes on first” to read and to express himself in creative ways. He’s a good worker (when he wants), and I depend upon him for many jobs.
I don’t have God’s unconditional love, especially when I must remind him again of some chore he’s neglected to do.
But my mother’s heart holds him close wanting his best.

I can see my Father wooing me to Himself.
His love holds me to His heart. He won’t let me go.

Adoption—just like with Jeremiah, I’m right where my Father wants me, close to His heart.

White, Thomas. Adoption: The Heart of the Gospel. Cedarville Magazine
httpp://publications.cedarville, edu./cedarvillemagazine/v6i1_spring2018/1-5/pp1-5.  accessed 5/1/2018
Martin, Rod. Adopted into God’s Family. jan 1, 2007 Answers Magazine, jan-mar 2007, Aswers in Genesis accessed 5/1/2018
Piper, John. Adoption: The Heart of the Gospel. Desiring God. February 10, 2007. accessed 5/1/2018

Displaying all 2 comments

As you know, this hits very close to home. It is one thing to train the average child, but a drug child is a different game. Adoption costs one everything they have in themselves, but it is worth the price. And it certainly keeps us praying! Thanks for sharing and encouraging us to keep on keeping on.

This is such a beautiful write-up Sonya! Brought me to tears! Keep up the good work! x0x0x0x0 Helen P.S. We have personally seen the great work you have done with Jeremiah! A miracle story!

I write about what you---
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               Sonya Contreras

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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