Monday, May 26, 2008

The whole ball of wax

OK, so I missed my little brother's birthday the other day. Didn't call him or anything. My only excuse is that I didn't write the date the whole entire day. If I had, I'd have known. I remember things like that. But in some ways, my brother has two birthdays for me--the day he was born, and the day he became part of my family, and if truth be told (and I'm all about truth-telling) there's much to be said about both days.

We took a drive up the long highway of Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, and turned on a road I promise you I could find to this day, into a sub-division, where a ranch house sat amid other houses very like it. This was the early 70s, so you can imagine the houses, imagine the woman who opened the door, with her hair starched high on top of her head, and her teenaged daughters behind her, with their head-banded hair long and straight, wearing in bell-bottom jeans. They took my parents, my siblings and me into their dark-paneled living room, and there in an infant-seat sat a chubby, round-cheeked, dark-haired baby they called Jake. He was the 10th foster baby they'd cared for, and they were naming their babies in alphabetical order. He was four-weeks old. I remember the multi-colored afghan on their couch, and the blue pajamas he was wearing as if it was yesterday. And I remember his huge blue eyes when he gazed around the room. He was a big baby--as big as I was at birth, as big as my own first baby. We held him, cooed over him, and gave the foster mom clothes to dress him in, and a new name to call him--the name we'd voted and chosen--the name of the Beloved of God and of us--David. But after about an hour, we climbed back into our car and had to drive away. Back down the island and away from our baby. What a hard drive that was...

You see, my mother was taking a class at the University of Washington that summer, and had a week to finish. So we left our baby for another week, while we--my sisters and I (maybe my brothers, though I don't remember clearly where they were)--played with our cousins in the sun at our family's cabin at the other end of the island. There he was, waiting for us, and we had to leave him. There was injustice in that, I remember thinking, in my almost 14-year-old brain (I was a month away from that milestone). But a week is a short time in the long length of a life, and before we knew it, Mom and Dad were climbing out of our car with a basket full of baby, and setting it on the green meadow of our property. Once again cooed over, held, and now we didn't have to say goodbye--ever. It was July 2nd, my dad's 40th birthday.

I love this brother. More than it's possible to express. Adoption. Ephesians 1 tells us that "in love, He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will--to the praise of His glorious grace." Just like my brother was chosen, by the agency, by us, by God, to be adopted into our family--to be my father's son. To be my father's son!!--so we have been chosen. Just exactly this same way.

Stop a moment and think about that with me.

We are adopted with exactly the same rights and privileges of the Son born of flesh and blood. In our family, my dad--well, not one of us--never made any distinctions between his children, and watch out if someone did. (In fact, about the only time I ever heard him really, really angry directly to his mother was when she made a comment about his adopted sons.) All the rights and privileges of Sonship belong to all of us. All the love and grace are exactly the same. Suffering too, but that's part of being in a family. I guess in the end, being adopted into His family means the whole ball of wax, so to speak.

But I wouldn't have it any other way. I wouldn't have missed it with my brother. Not in a million years. My life is richer, broader and deeper for him. And his? Well, we'll never know what his might have been if some other family had been given the gift we were given. Thank God. Sure, there's been pain. Every life has its cross. That's my point. That's my point!! But in the end, there is love between us. And when our lives are in the family of God--which is a far different thing than merely being cast into the flawed, messy net of a human adoptive family--we get this: "The amazing proof of God's love is this: that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." And that makes all the difference.

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