why does this picture immediately warm our hearts?
what is it, exactly, that catches our eye or captures our emotion?
is it the gold setting of beautiful fall?
is it the arms of a child around her daddy's neck?
the cute backside of my husband? (okay, just had to throw that one in for some fun).
is it her eyes?
or maybe the smile on her face?
what is it?
i think, for me, it's all of that. and more. it's knowing how corrupt and ugly our world is and how sweet and safe this picture is -- how serene. we don't typically live in gold-leafed kinds of places. sometimes we struggle to feel the warmth of our Father's arms or the safety of His embrace. we all know what the longing feels like to be held close ... comforted ... picked up.
but we live in a world, as james said, "polluted." polluted with every kind of evil and abuse which man in his sinful state can think up or imagine. there's no limit to the darkness which pervades our culture. no end to the twisting of God's truth or the corruption of people. and we don't have to look far to find it.
and maybe that's why this picture mostly gets me.
i mean, sure it's my husband holding our daughter. that probably has something to do with it. but, truly, it's more than that.
it's everything which is opposite. it's all things antithetical to this photo.
i look at this and i don't see what we did for bella in adopting her, i see what God's done for us in our adoption.
"to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. and because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” so you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. ~ galatians 4:5-7
quite a contrast, right?
there's nothing golden about it.
do you see the filth, the dirt, the cigarette butt? do you see the loneliness? the hopelessness? the desperation?
that's where we come from, friends. that corner, right there, well, that's pretty much life without Jesus. we can dress it up and make it look nicer. we can paint it pretty and make it a little more lovely. we can tidy it up in the spirit of human goodness or man's acts of kindness. but behind it all ... is still ... a dirty corner and a desperate life.
only when Jesus comes in and removes us from this place, this pit, are we able to shed the filth. it will cling to us until the day we find Him and His saving embrace. it will cling to us when we don't even realize it's clinging. and maybe that's the most desperate place of all -- the corner which has been covered up enough to think it's okay. to think it's clean enough ... to think it's kind enough ... to even think it's happy enough. but really, underneath all the distraction and decoration is still ... that desperate, dirty corner.
bella was a helpless baby left in that corner. she was sick. she was alone and she had nothing to offer, nothing to give. as her mother, i can barely type out those words. but as hard as that is to think about, it's the truth i know. it's the truth her life has shown us ... not just about her, but about all of us.
“whoever receives one such child in my name receives me..." ~ matthew 18:5
every one of us is alone in a filthy corner until Jesus comes.
i can think of no other word picture so powerful.
our adoption of bella doesn't put us on a higher plane or any kind of super spiritual power trip. not at all. in fact, if anything, it reminds us of how alone and orphaned we all are without Jesus. adopting bella has been the most humbling thing we've ever done as a family, because it so clearly wasn't about us. only through our own desperate adoptions were we able to fully rely on Him for the strength to go get bella. bella is in our arms today, because of Christ's arms around us. her adoption was never about our ability or our good works or even about our loving kindness. it was and is, only about what He can do through us when we stay close to Him.
do you know the love of your Father's arms today? or are you still trying to clean up your own little corner?
today, all across this country, we celebrated orphan sunday. i love this day. but, this is not a day only for families who have adopted or will adopt, this is for all of us who have been adopted into the family of God.
dear one, do you feel alone? abandoned? rejected? afraid?
do not give up hope -- Jesus is near.
Jesus, the one, who wants to meet you in your corner.
Jesus, the only one, who can rescue, redeem and remove.
"but to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name,
He gave the right to become children of God." ~ john 1:12
"I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare."
~ psalm 40:1-5