Romans 8 has always been a critical chapter of the bible in my faith. I was challenged to memorize it a number of years ago and the vast majority of it is still sealed in my memory as I find myself repeating it now and again. There are two verses in this chapter that have carried a new meaning for me recently, verses 15 & 16.
Romans 8:15-17 FOR YOU DID NOT RECEIVE THE SPIRIT OF SLAVERY TO FALL BACK INTO FEAR, BUT YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTION AS SONS, BY WHOM WE CRY, “ABBA! FATHER!” THE SPIRIT HIMSELF BEARS WITNESS WITH OUR SPIRIT THAT WE ARE CHILDREN OF GOD, AND IF CHILDREN, THEN HEIRS—HEIRS OF GOD AND FELLOW HEIRS WITH CHRIST, PROVIDED WE SUFFER WITH HIM IN ORDER THAT WE MAY ALSO BE GLORIFIED WITH HIM.
What does it mean to be adopted? As Christians this is a primary theme of the New Testament. The bible repeatedly says that when we placed our faith in Jesus, God adopted us into His family (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:5, Ephesians 1:5). This language of “adoption” is precious terminology for in it is packed such significance that a lifetime of searching and prayerfully meditating on might not fully satisfy. And yet, I feel that over the last three months I have been given a glimpse into my own adoption into God’s family in an entire new way. Romans 8 has moved from mere terminology and theology to experiential worship. From knowing about God to knowing God.
Nearly three months ago our little family of three began a new leg of the journey by welcoming twin girls from Chicago’s foster system into our home. What had started as a faithful step of obedience and prayer by up for the ‘Pride Classes’ to learn more about the foster system and to get certified, in one moment became our new life. Our family of three became a family of five with one knock on the door as two beautiful girls were dropped off at our home with a box of toys and a bag of clothes. In just a few short months these sweet girls already feel like my daughters, even though I know at the moment I am still only their foster dad. But it is our prayer, and a prayer that grows in fervor and strength every day, that in time the Lord will allow us to adopt them into our family.
As I think about this journey I can’t help but remembering that first moment they arrived in our house. They were strangers. They were someone else’s children. They came from an entirely different place and an entirely different life. The daily rhythms of their life were not yet in sync with our family’s daily rhythms. These were the daily difficulties of transformation that needed to occur to establish a settled home with two new children. Yet in some way in the grand scheme of things these adjustments were only the superficial ones. They took, and continue to take work, but there is a bigger story taking place.
The moment that struck me the deepest was a few days after they arrived when the girl’s birth certificates were sent to our home. As I looked over the documents, I quickly realized that both girls had an empty space where the name of their biological dad should have been written. Fatherless… For the first 14 months of their life, no daddy. I wanted so bad to take a pen and just write my name in the blanks space. I wanted to somehow get into their little minds and let them know they weren’t fatherless anymore, I was their dad, and I wasn’t going anywhere. Fill it in, re-write their little history, and graft them into this family. No more blank spaces. No more unknowns. No more uncertainty.
When scripture says we have been “adopted as sons,” in Romans 8, this is what it means. We were fatherless. We had a blank space on our spiritual birth certificates. And in our childlike ways we couldn’t resolve it on our own, we couldn’t fill in the blank space or ask someone to help us out. Where the wind blew is where we went. But then the Lord took us in. He looked down at our certificate and in big bold letters wrote His name in the blank space, and He sealed it with His own blood. We took on His name when He invited us in and promised to never let us go. His family, His life, His goodness, His name, His inheritance, His authority, His love. All of these became ours. To know our own adoption into God’s family, there is nothing sweeter.
There is so much more to learn in this journey. I know we are only just beginning. And my guess is that we have quite rocky road ahead of us. But with each day that goes by I learn more about the gospel than I ever have.
 FOR YOU DID NOT RECEIVE THE SPIRIT OF SLAVERY TO FALL BACK INTO FEAR, BUT YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTION AS SONS, BY WHOM WE CRY, “ABBA! FATHER!”