Today I had the privilege of sitting in family court in downtown Providence to watch dear people in our church, Matt and Elisabeth Blair, adopt Emma into their family. Emma has been in the Blair home since the moment of birth, nearly 21 months ago. But today, her future was settled as Matt and Elisabeth pledged to take care of Emma’s physical, financial, and educational needs indefinitely. The judge in response officially gave Emma a new name and a new standing. She is a Blair in the fullest sense of the word – a Blair she is just as if she had been born into the family.
As we left the courtroom, Elisabeth thanked Karen and I for coming and said, “We are glad you came, even though it was all over so quickly.” In a sense, she is right. The banging of the gavel and the legal declaration took place in a moment. But let us not think that adoption is an instantaneous event. Adoption in a very real sense is a process.
A pastor friend of mine has adopted several children. His wife was once told, “You should be thankful that you are an adoptive parent because you have never had to go through labor pains.” The wife astutely responded, “Adoption has labor pains that are much more extensive and intense than a few hours.”
When God came to adopt us, there was some work involved. Galatians 4 speaks of the labor involved to be an adoptive parent.
First, there is the labor of time. God adopted us in “the fullness of time.” The timetable had to be correct. The world had to be right politically, religiously, and culturally for Jesus to come to adopt us. I’ve watched many parents labor with the time element of adoption. Adoption agencies can be incredibly slow. It seems that just about the time a court date is ready to be scheduled something else comes up. In biological deliveries, no woman will ever be two months overdue. But such “overdue” periods commonly occur in adoption. There is a labor time.
Second, there is a labor of law. Galatians tells us that there were certain legal obligations that had to be fulfilled in order for our adoption to occur. I have friends who have adopted from China and other friends who have adopted from Russia. In both cases of international adoption, laws had to be satisfied in America as well as on foreign soil. Our adoption was not international; it was inter-galactic. Just as my friends had to immerse them selves in Chinese or Russian law, so Christ immersed Himself in the culture of earth to redeem us. Praise God, all law has been satisfied!
And then finally, there is the labor of cost. The word “redeem” means “to buy back.” Adoptions are expensive. Biological births can cost thousands of dollars. Adoptions can cost tens of thousands of dollars. When we were adopted, God gave His only begotten Son to pay the price. Talk about an extravagant price tag!
I’ve watched as the Blairs have exhausted themselves with time, legalities, and finance to guarantee the thrill of having Emma as their own daughter. I marvel at the love that they have for this little girl that has made them invest this labor. I see in them a biopsy of the love that God has for me. During this Christmas season, I am reminded that God took the time, satisfied the law, and paid the price for my adoption. Hallelujah, what a Savior!