Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Our son and daughter in law and grandson are in China. They are concluding a long process of adopting a little girl from there. She has been in an orphanage for most of the first 18 months of her life. No one knows the circumstances but she was dropped off there when she was 4 months old. She had a heart problem and since she was a girl her future in China was very uncertain. She would have remained in the orphanage for a long time. This morning I saw the first pictures of her with her new family, her mother and father and brother holding her. Then, a bit later, I read in Psalm 68 this line: God is the Father of orphans.... This little girl has certainly been in her Father's hands. What a new life she is set to begin. From orphanage to belonging in a family... from a life of poverty to one where her needs and more will be met.... from a life where she did not matter much as a young girl with special needs to a special place where her family will do whatever they can to make sure those needs are met. It is such a dramatic change I cannot quite understand it. It is almost from death to life. From lost to found. From being no one to being someone. She is only one of millions of girls and boys just like her in the world: orphans. Before our son left for China he spoke in church about this experience. He used the analogy of God adopting each of us as his sons and daughters. In a spiritual sense, we were all orphans before being adopted into His family. The mindblowing part is this: He chose us. Our son and daughter in law chose their little girl but they did not "not" choose all the other orphans. That is, there was no rejection in this process. There is a strain of hyper Calvinist theology that draws the conclusion from the doctrine of election that since God chooses some, he must reject others, the ones who are not chosen. Watching our family go through this process of choosing: the paperwork, the heavy financial commitment, the endless arrangements, the stress, the tears, the prayers, and then the actual trip from the USA to China and the travel in a unknown place to finally meet this little girl they have chosen - all of this has spoken to me of God's love in choosing us. Of what he went through to get to us. This little girl will come to know in the days and years ahead what her chosen-ness means. She will grow into it. Much as we do as Christians when we grow into God's love for us. As we mature, we take more responsibility for our adoption into God's family. She will discover what grace and blessing she has received. Much as we do as Christians. It seems to me the point of that theological doctrine of election makes the most sense in this context. Yes, we are chosen. The point of that chosen-ness is to realize how we have been blessed, and to live out that blessing by being a blessing to others. Just as our family could choose only one little girl, we hope and pray others will be chosen, too. There are way too many orphans in the world. What fuels that hope and ignites our prayers is that God is the Father of orphans. We can pray for their chosen-ness, for them to find their place of belonging, however that may happen. God is the Father of orphans, we remember. And what about those we run into today who are not part of the family of God? God may be in the process right now of meeting them, telling them, showing them the new reality. They were lost but now are found, once an orphan but now have a special place in the family of God.