Sunday, January 22, 2012

What Adoption is Teaching Me: The Already-Not Yet Child

When I was in college, I took a Christian Theology class.  One of the main ideas in the class was that of the tension of the Already/Not Yet status of followers of Christ.  I didn't fully understand the idea at the time, but as I'm walking through and experiencing adoption, it's becoming more clear to me.

Our Initial Orphan Status

"Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.  So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith." Gal. 3:23-24

Our first, original state is that of being under guardianship. We were orphans, being given to the care of the Law.  The Old Testament law acted as our guardian (the literal translation is "child-conductor"), gave us boundaries and direction when we had nothing else.  When a person is given guardianship of a child, they are responsible for that child.  But this doesn't always mean family will happen as a result.  It is a type of family, but not true family, because in guardianship, there is no promise of inheritance or permanency for the one being guarded.

The law was good because it met our basic needs as mankind for order, boundaries, and steps to reconciliation with God, at least in outward appearances.  Guardianship is good because it means a child's basic needs are being met.  But it's not as good as something greater...

"But when the fulness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.  Because you are Sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"  Therefore, you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God."Galatians 4:4-7

God, in His sovereignty, used the Law to bring us to a point of awareness of our need at just the right time.  I'm certain that children in foster care settings and orphanage settings have an inkling of what they're missing out on in not having a family...  this is what the Law has done for us in our spiritual state.  Jesus came, let mankind experience Him, get a living example of perfection, righteousness, holiness, who was worthy and able to redeem us all from our custody in the law.

Adopted, Not Yet United

"But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus, you are all sons of God, through faith." Gal. 3:25-26

When we are given faith in Christ, we are no longer bound to the Law.  We are given sonship, full rights of a child of God, an inheritance in His kingdom.  THAT is a miracle...  He takes us literally out of the dust, having no name, no future, no idea where our life will lead us tomorrow, and sets us in His home, with His clothing on our backs, provides everything we need, and gives us His name!  We cannot earn this kind of redemption and faith anymore than an orphan can earn a family.  It's just not possible.

Our spirits have been redeemed.  The work is accomplished.  We are sealed!  "In Him, you also... having believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory."  (Ephesians 1:13)  We belong to God when our faith is in Jesus.  We are his possession, we are redeemed. It's already done.

For the time that we are still here on this earth, we have the HOPE and assurance of this inheritance, but not the realization of it.  Not yet.

"For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.  And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body." Romans 8:22-23

Just like Meryn.  If she was older, after having met our family and spent a week with us, she would be intensely longing to leave that care center and be with us.  Even as a tiny baby, she grew in just a few days time to look for me, to want me, to be comforted by me.  She has the first fruits, she's tasted a family.  But she has NO idea how good it's really going to be.  How many degrees better it will be than a group care setting.  How she will flourish in a family home.  If she did understand it all, how much more would she long for it?  Do I long for God's kingdom in this way?  I cannot begin to comprehend how much better it will be than this life....  A lot of times I find myself thinking that this life is pretty good.  Doesn't that sound foolish, though, from Meryn's perspective?  If she were to say, "I think I've got it pretty good at this care center, and I'd rather stay here, thanks."  No! Lord! Set my heart, right, please!

When we have faith in Christ, our spirits are redeemed already.  But our inheritance is not fully received yet.  The Spirit has sealed us with a spirit of adoption (Eph. 1:13), freeing us from the guardianship of the Law and setting us in God's family forever.  But our bodies are not yet redeemed, until we finish our life on earth.

Meryn is legally our daughter.  It is done.  It's already happened.  She has experienced us, tasted the life with family.  In reality, she is no longer an orphan.  But she is not yet able to physically be with us in body.  To enjoy all the benefits and goodness of life with a family.  But it is certainly coming.

Oh, how much better being a part of God's family will be than being a part of our family!  All of this is deepening my understanding of my Already/Not Yet state... what I have in store for me, that this season of life on earth is temporary, and that our true hope is in being adopted as God's children.  What riches and glory we have to look forward to as those whose faith is in Christ!!  Just as Meryn is already/not yet a Preedy, I am already/not yet a daughter of God...

"For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it." Romans 8:24-25


  1. A blessing to my soul this night! You have beautifully pointed others to God's perfect grace... one of many fruits of your current suffering. May God's grace continue to overwhelm you as you wait. Love you!

  2. Great post Megan; such clarity brought about the circumstances of adoption. Thanks for sharing.

  3. What a great parallel picture of our life in Christ. I love it. Praying for you guys as you walk through this journey and long to bring Meryn home.

    Christine M.