On an otherwise ordinary day, sometime in the next year, two foreigners will arrive at a place where dozens of children call home.
The foreigners don’t look the same as everyone else. Their skin is different. Their hair is different. Their clothing is different. They even talk different.
They have a few gifts: a doll, a toy car, some candy. They share something with all of the children, but it is clear that they are there for only two. A slender shy young boy, and a chubby cheeked little girl, who are brother and sister. They take the boy and girl aside and begin to tell them of a wonderful place. They show them pictures of a brick house with green shutters, and two rambunctious dogs. They show them glimpses of the playground at their church, and pictures of many people with smiling faces.
These foreigners seem nice. They smile. They hug. But they also try to convince the boy and girl that there is a better home — the one in the pictures — that they want to take them to. They will be leaving everything they know, riding in a big bus that flies in the air to a new continent, a new country, a new home. And they may never return to what they know.
The language barrier is difficult. There are translators, but they don’t seem to be doing an adequate job because the children seem afraid. If only they knew what was waiting for them on the other side of the world, they would never hesitate to leave their home, their orphanage.
Will the orphans ever trust the foreigners enough to leave their orphanage behind?
Over 2000 years ago, a foreigner came to earth. He looked different. He talked differently. He brought with Him small glimpses of the home where He had come from: miracles of healing, wholeness, fullness. But the miracles were merely representations of the place from which He had come, not the destination itself.
In fact, He has come to adopt us, to set us free from our captivity to sin and to give us the freedom and comfort of a son, rather than the imprisonment and rejection of an orphan.
Yet in spite of the glimpses of wholeness and healing that He has brought to the orphanage to demonstrate our real home, the temptation is to remain in the orphanage. The walls have become familiar. What could feel like imprisonment has come to feel more like, well, like . . . home.
Even if we do leave the orphanage, the temptation to return is powerful, especially when we are challenged to live beyond what is natural to us. After all, it’s hard to believe there is a Kingdom waiting for us when the orphanage is all we have ever known.
“We don’t fully believe that our new Father will feed us, so we hang on to our scraps and long for the regimented schedules of the orphanage from which we’ve come. And when our Father pushes us along to new tastes, we pout that he’s not good to us. But he’s readying us for glory, preparing us to take our place on thrones as heirs.” — Russell Moore in Adopted for Life
We all have been invited out of the orphanage, and into Adoption, but we must decide: Are we willing to leave the orphanage behind?
“It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.
This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know. If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God’s kingdom.
But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.”
Galatians 5: 19-23, The Message