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In the summer of 2015, my wife and I boarded a plane for China to adopt a 5-year-old boy. We named him Joseph, and without missing a beat this smiley, tender-hearted boy, started to soak up our family like a sponge.
Those first few months were challenging to say the least. We were in the midst of doctors’ visits, breaking through language barriers, and introducing Joseph to a completely new world. Even in all of this chaos, my son was in the bliss of having a new father. He especially latched on to me, always wanting to be held, cuddled, hugged, and kissed by his new daddy.
Physical adoption has taught me everything I know about spiritual adoption.
The more Joseph pursued me, wanted me, and became a part of our family, God began to show me that I too am an adopted son. I simply had no clue that my heavenly Father had sent Joseph into my life to teach me one of the greatest spiritual lessons any of us can learn: God the Father has adopted me and He desperately loves me.
I was starting to understand the beauty of spiritual adoption. Although I had read this Scripture before, it was becoming clear for the first time:
“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” (Ephesians 1:5, NLT).
How I Learned to See Myself as God's Son
Every corner I turned, Joseph was there with arms open wide, desiring to be held. I would pick him up, and he would rub my face, kiss my lips, and babble in a language I couldn’t understand. All I knew is that Joseph was in the one place he wanted to be — his daddy’s arms.
Growing up, I had seen God as great, majestic, and mighty, but also far off, distant and somewhat theoretical. I felt like I didn’t have what it took to really be close to God. I believed nearness to God was for a specific set of ultra-Christians who had way more willpower than I did to memorize Scripture, fast, and pray.
God invites us into an intimacy only shared between loving parents and children.
But now, my heavenly Father was teaching me that my identity as His son grants me unlimited nearness to Him.
Galatians 3:26 says that by faith in Jesus, I am a son of God. He invites me into an intimacy only shared between loving parents and children. My God was drawing me closer to him by teaching me a new facet of His fatherhood. As I was providing a new level of love, closeness, security, and stability to Joseph, God was teaching me about the same endless love He has for me.
The Father’s Love Is Forever
Joseph and I have a routine where I ask him the same questions each night before bed.
I ask, “How long are you going to be in this family?”
He enthusiastically says, “Forever!”
I ask, “How long do I get to be your daddy?”
He says, “Forever!”
I ask, How long do you get to be my son?”
He says, “Forever!”
Then, I wrap it up by saying, “How long is your daddy going to love you?”
He says, “Forever!”
Most nights, the Holy Spirit whispers to me, “You have no clue how deeply the Father loves you. He wants you ‘Forever!’”
Abba Father sees you as his beautiful son or daughter. He thinks you’re awesome, amazing, wonderful, and perfectly made. Psalm 139:13-18 says as much:
“you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
God loves it when you curl up in His lap each morning to open His Word and talk to Him. He loves for you to share your laughter, joy, pain, and frustration with him (1 Peter 5:7, Philippians 4:6). He invites you to continue talking to him throughout the day, sharing your deep thoughts, joyful thoughts, and random thoughts. He wants all of you and never holds you at a distance because of your shortcomings. When you hold up your hands for a hug, He wraps you in His embrace (Romans 8:38-39).
When you hold up your hands for a hug, God wraps you in His embrace.
I know my identity now. I’m the adopted son of the most loving Father I could ever know, and I’ve been offered an intimacy with Him that is reserved for sons and daughters.
All who have received Christ have been given this identity and are invited into this intimacy. John 1:12 tells us that “to all who did receive [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
My prayer is that you would see yourself as the son or daughter of a loving Father that invites you closer than you thought possible.