Updated: Dec 7, 2018
"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure."
Growing up with adopted brothers has given me a different perspective of what it means to be adopted into God's family. They came to us not by blood, but by choice. They were sought after, sacrificed for, and invited in. Adoption is a two way street though. It's an agreement between a mother and father, siblings if they already exist, and the adoptive child. My first adopted brother came to us as an infant. His acceptance of us was innocent. He remembered nothing else but being our brother and being my parent's son. My second brother came older, and his acceptance into our family was not as easy. Even though he was fully accepted as a Murray member, he acted like he was still a stranger or the odd man out. It was hard for him to let go of what had happened in his past, and even harder for him to ask for help. As an adopted child into the family of Christ, I see the similarities. We can accept Jesus as our savior, but struggle to let go of the things that happened to us before. And it can be even harder to admit when we need help.
I accepted Christ as my savior when I was in the 7th grade. I recognized that I was incomplete and that I needed him, but I struggled to understand how and where I fit into his family. Throughout high school, I went from one extreme of being a religious bible-thumper to the other extreme of being a nominal Jesus follower. It wasn't until after I graduated that I began to verbalize to God that I didn't know how to be his child. I pleaded with him to reveal himself to me and to help me see the things in my heart I needed to let go of to make room for more of him. Since then, my relationship with Christ has grown in stages and in more recent years, I've learned to let God have all of me. I've learned to fully accept that I am chosen by Him! I was sought after, sacrificed for, and was fully accepted by him before I fully accepted that fact in return.
God created the family unit to reflect the family of God. It can be a good picture of what he offers us, but we are just human copies of what is pure and holy and perfect. In my family growing up, it was hard. My parents were not united in their faith, and taking on the challenges that they did without that unity was more than their marriage could bear. I did not take getting married lightly. I knew I needed to be married to someone who put Christ first in his life. I valued that quality more than anything else in a man. In our 21 years of marriage, we have had to work through letting go of wrong ideas based on childhood dynamics; learn to forgive and accept each other fully. Having our three sons has grown us in our faith walk and has solidified us as husband and wife. But what makes us more united is that we also share the same identity of adoption. We have both been adopted by God and are fully aware of his sacrifice to have us in his family.
Interestingly, the act of publicly stepping out and saying we desire to adopt ourselves has opened up conversations with my family that I had not had before. I have experienced more open dialogue with them about the struggle we shared growing up, but also the difference it truly did make for each of us as adults. My older sister and her husband have adopted a son in this last year as a result of her experience. One of my brothers runs in a marathon each year to raise money for kids without parental support. My other brother acknowledges that as imperfect as it was in our family, he sees how he was truly rescued from what his life could have been and is grateful. In the end, my parents left us all a legacy of adoption that I pray will continue to the next generations to come.
Adoption is hard, but worth it. It means dying to self and making room for new growth. Adoption can break you in ways that you need breaking. It is beautiful, raw and real. Adoption is now our choice and it gives us great pleasure because adoption is the essence of Christ's love!!!