"He looks just like his daddy!"
A longtime family friend approached and began to play with our five-month-old baby, Lincoln. There's nothing quite so powerful as a baby to attract people, and Lincoln has capitalized on his natural magnetism by learning an amazing trick. He will make eye contact with people passing by, smile, and lure them in with a low chuckle. No one can resist the charms of a giggling baby who is looking right at them.
"He's adopted," I responded with my well-rehearsed speech, " So technically, I'm not sure if he looks like his daddy.... "
"You know, eventually you won't have to tell that story," my friend reassured me, "Our son is adopted, and we used to tell everyone,' this is not his real dad.' We would tell people how he was brought into our family . . . Eventually we figured out that we don't need the story."
As I walked into the doctor's waiting room and took a seat, Lincoln immediately started in, looking at everybody in the room, giggling, smiling. Like a skilled fisherman, he quickly had hooked several of the adults in the room. And then came the same comment, this time from a total stranger.
"He looks just like his daddy."
I almost started into my speech, then hesitated. I have no back-up speech for this situation, so I blurted out an answer.
"He can't help it," I said, "He spends a lot of time with us, he's starting to look like us. It's like people and their dogs, if you hang on your dog to long enough, you start to look alike. That's why you got to choose your dogs carefully."
I'm sure that comment made very little sense to the people who were listening. In fact, I don't think that the 'people look like their dogs' response is any better than the 'he's adopted' speech. (note to self, come up with a better response!)
As we walked back into the doctor's office to weigh and measure this little bundle of energy, the thoughts begin to tug at my mind. The longer Lincoln stays with us, the more we have in common. It's true, we even begin to look the same. He is learning to smile like me. He is learning to laugh with me. He spits his peas on me, and falls asleep contentedly in my arms. He thrills when my whiskers brush his belly. He coos and sighs when I hold him close. The fact that we do not share genetics is being overshadowed by a growing truth. Who he is and who I am are inextricably intertwined. Every day that passes, the reality that he is not my biological son fades under the growing awareness that he belongs to me. He's mine. And I am his. His adoption is fading into a footnote; it is no longer the title of our story.
The Bible tells me that I am God's adopted son. I don't truly understand that. For most of my life, I have believed that the scripture passages that referred to God as my Father are simply a back up plan for those unfortunate souls we don't have a dad. Or perhaps some mysterious spiritual/legal necessity of my salvation. I am coming to learn that salvation is less about agreeing with correct doctrine, and more about being fathered by God. Like any adopted son, I enter the relationship overwhelmed by the reality that I do not belong. But I'm learning that as time passes, I am looking more and more like my Dad. It is unavoidable, it is inevitable, I've been called into adoption by my Heavenly Father. Jesus did not consent to the cross so that I could recite the sinner's prayer. He suffered, died, and rose so that the Father could sweep me into his arms once again, hold me close and whisper to me.
Every day that passes, the reality that I am adopted out of sin and into life fades under the growing awareness that I belong to my Father. I am His, and He is mine. My adoption is evaporating into a footnote, it is no longer the title of my story.
And I long for the day when others say of me, "He looks just like his Father."
(Note to self- new response when they say 'Lincoln looks just like his daddy.' )
"That's because he is mine."
John 1 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Romans 8 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” 16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.