Sleep deprivation is just another part of my everyday life now. I am a new father. Honestly, I don’t know who is learning more. Is it my son who is just discovering his fingers, colors and the family dog? Or is it me, as I attempt to figure out all the gear necessary to properly raise a child in our century, fighting the billions of bacteria on everything connected to baby, or finding just the right angle to eat and just the right angle to burp? My source of joy has been widely expanded.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He 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…” (Ephesians 1:3-5)
I can think of no better story than the one Paul lines out in the beginning of his letter to the church at Ephesus so many centuries ago. We have every blessing. When exactly was the foundation of the world laid? Before then, God chose us to be His own. Eugene Peterson says it well when he writes, “Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. What pleasure he took in planning this.”
This means all the much more for me now because my son was adopted.
My wife and I have been trying to have children for years. We’ve been to through the loops with our doctor for longer than we care to think about, and even at the end of that long game, no answers were to be found. I was a student pastor at a local church and my wife was a professional ballerina, both happy and healthy, holding back tears and screams as the news of more and more of our friends’ pregnancies came in.
Fostering and adoption was one outlet for my lovely wife. She put our names on lists and began the research into what was, by common knowledge, going to be a long and expensive process. The only thing that stabilized us was Christ himself. We prayed more honestly and emotionally than ever before. I remember one such prayer at the altar of a church we were visiting after I left the ministry to enter seminary as a full-time student. As the tears fell onto our clenched hands an older married couple offered their prayers as well. All I could muster was, “We just want to have a baby.”
Months later we received a message on a voice mail from an old friend at the church in which I worked. “Scot, there’s been an incident … you need to call me.” Of course that made my wife and I both very nervous. It turned out there was a young teen at the church we visited those months before that was pregnant … and she wanted us to adopt her baby! What?! Upon meeting her a few days later, her parents were with her and they were strangely familiar … the couple that prayed for us. “We had only known about our daughter for a week when we prayed for you,” the man said, “and we all just knew you would parent this child when you looked up and said, ‘We just want to have a baby.’” The rest as they say…
So with our names still on a few lists and adoption and fostering information arriving weekly in the mail, we were on our way to being parents in a most God-ordained fashion. In fact His hand was the most obvious force in the months leading up to and even during the birth of little Andrew. All the while, this fascination picture in Ephesians was fresh on our hearts.
What does it mean that as a believer in Jesus I am adopted to Himself? As my education on that issue continues, I am beginning to know something of the passion and longing that Jesus felt when He thought about me, as He impatiently awaited my arrival of faith. My wife and I also know just a bit of the joy that He must have had when we did arrive, entering his family by His grace exposed to us on the cross. Now when I look at Andrew, I cannot help but think of the overwhelming desire God has for my neighbors, the people I work with, and the millions more that are spiritually without family, without Father.
Ephesians says that this whole process was set into motion according to the “kind intention of His will.” We know from Romans that His will is “good, pleasing, and perfect” and that truth only makes sense when we get a taste of its fruition in our everyday lives. But, and maybe even more powerfully, our own adoption is “to the praise of the glory of His grace.” How fantastically contradictory is God’s grace? Running in stark opposition to all that motivates humans, God chooses to gift undeserving failures with riches and pleasures beyond imagination.
Once I was miserable in my lost-ness, separated from a Father that called me His own. But because of glorious grace I was adopted into the family of the Creator himself, getting Jesus as my brother, and an inheritance that will simply blow my mind.
I can only consistently thank God for the grace that brought us Andrew. And strangely, I find myself repeatedly thanking Andrew for the sleep-deprived education he initiates on your average Wednesday morning. After all, He who watches over His people neither slumbers nor sleeps. (Psalm 121:4)
Scot Pollok is a husband, father, student and waiter in The Woodlands, Texas. He is currently trying to master the study of Greek irregular verbs while changing a diaper.