All my life, I have felt like I was being judged against some plumb line and found wanting. And just like Amos, God took me from teaching and set me a task to minister to his people. Even then I have looked back to that plumb line wondering if I measure up.
But glory of glories, in our Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul says, “He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ according to the good pleasure of his will.” And I know what that means!
I have been on a journey since Christmas. A journey of discovery, to find my family of origin. All my life I have cared nothing about history. If you mentioned history to me, my mind shut down, didn’t want to go there. It held nothing for me, didn’t exist for me. I was adopted when I was 11 days old. That is the day history began.
So I have a basis for understanding what Paul is talking about when he talks about “adoption as children of God.” I was adopted into a new family and loved and cared for as if I was their own. It wasn’t until after Mom died, that God plainly told me that He was my father and called me into his household. He also told me if I wanted to know about my family to read the Bible. It was only then that history began to be important to me – and then only Biblical history.
Over the last 30 years, I have grieved the loss of the mother who gave birth and who gave me away. I went through various stages of grief: anger, guilt, depression and finally acceptance as I acknowledged the calling God had placed on my life. It is only recently that God has placed a longing in my heart to find closure, and I began my search not knowing if my birth mother was alive or dead.
Over the past two months, as I petitioned the court to unseal my records and as I searched through the DNA matches, my thirst for history – my history – came alive. Knowing my mother’s name was Lillie, and finding a positive DNA match for an uncle, I was able to identify my mother and track my family history back several generations.
Using the information gathered through Ancestry.com and internet searches, Sam and I left Thursday to search for my mother. We came up dry on Thursday – no luck at all. So we went to Palestine and spent the night with some old friends. We visited and laughed and prayed and enjoyed the fellowship and support and encouragement we found there.
We went back on Friday to begin our search anew. This is when all my skills learned through teaching math and being a police officer and pastoral care all came together.
I had already decided that my mother must be in a nursing home somewhere. The first place we visited gave me a clue – we went to a nursing home in a different town and that is where we found her. I was trembling as the nurse took me back to where “Miss Lillie” was having lunch with a friend. The moment I saw her, I had no doubt that she was my mother. I visited with her for about 10 minutes. I doubt that she would remember it the next day, but it was monumental for me. To be able to gaze at her and say, “This is my mother” was simply amazing. This was a gift from God
As adult beings, we are formed by more than our DNA and our environment. We are also formed by the love God pours out on us and our response to that love. Here in this letter to the Ephesians we are reminded that we have been adopted into the family of God. We are reminded that Jesus Christ died to redeem our sins. Wisdom and insight are given that we might know the depths of his love.
Sometimes we are fighting issues involving physical, emotional or spiritual pain, or disabilities, or inadequacies. Sometimes it is hard to remember that God has a plan, and that plan includes us. Sometimes it is hard to wait for the fullness of time in God’s plan. We want to bull right ahead and force issues instead of waiting for God’s timing and God’s plan. Just like this search for my mother… I had considered doing a DNA test, but just never seemed to get around to ordering the kit – the time wasn’t right, or maybe I didn’t want to open up that Pandora’s box – but then I was given a DNA test kit as a Christmas present from my son and daughter-in-law – and it was God’s timing.
Our lesson says, “when you have heard the word of truth. . .” The word of truth as I visited with my mother was that this woman had given me birth, and then unselfishly given me up, so that I might be adopted into a particular family to grow up in the knowledge and love of God as demonstrated through that adoptive family. The environment I grew up in and the church family I called home were instrumental in bringing me to where I am today.
Our Psalm today begins, “I will listen to what the Lord God is saying, for he is speaking peace to his faithful people and to those who turn their hearts to him. . . Mercy and truth have met together.” After the turmoil that has resided in my heart at times through the years, when truth was found, there was mercy also. In the fullness of time, God has brought it together for me and I have seen his glory in the face of one who had the courage to bear a child and give her over to the Lord’s loving care.
I have believed in Jesus Christ and been sealed by the Holy Spirit and that’s all it takes. God has a plan and a path for each of us to travel. This is the pledge God gives us – we are redeemed by his blood, forgiven our sins, and adopted as full members of Christ’s body, co-heirs with Christ of the kingdom of heaven.
How compelling a message for a whole generation of children who have been "cut loose" by parents through adoption or divorce or misfortune, or simply those who have sprouted their wings and flown away! How amazing to remind ourselves that no matter what our family system may be, we are not alone – never alone, but have been adopted as precious children of the Creator of the universe, our gracious heavenly Father! Amen