The Character of God as Father Part 10 — The Special Needs Adoption

 

“You know, you can always back out.”

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That’s what someone from my church told me when we found out that our unborn son Andrew, who we had been matched with for a month, was going to be born with considerable physical and mental disabilities.  And years later I wonder if hasatan tells our Heavenly Father the same sorts of things about us.  He is, after all, the accuser of the brethren, and we in our sin are far more deserving of the label “disabled” than my son Andrew is by virtue of physical deformities.

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We come into salvation twisted in very deep mental and spiritual ways.  Our bodies may be intact, but out hearts are full of deception, our minds scarred by years of rebellion, and our flesh is crying out for the comforts of sin.  There are no leg braces, or wheelchairs, or surgeries that can able our disabilities on the inside.  We need to be slowly and painfully conformed to the image of our Creator on the inside, through years of love and patience and gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) guidance.

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We are lost causes, in the eyes of everyone who we have hurt, everyone who we have betrayed and sinned against.  How can a drug addict be salvaged, or a prostitute?  How does the drunk driver become selfless and considerate, how does the abuser become gentle and self-controlled?  How can the prideful be humbled, or the mocker learn temperance?  Or in my case, how does the pornographer learn to write about God instead of about sex?  Anyone with half a brain would leave us on the doorstep of the orphanage to die in the cold — lost causes, disgusting and twisted caricatures of humanity.  Or maybe just someone with half a heart would do that…. or someone who listens to the accuser.

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When we found out that one of our unborn twins was going to be born with serious problems, it only made it more imperative that we become their parents.  And I do not love with my Heavenly Father’s kind of love, so I can only begin to imagine what He felt when He looked at me — adulterous, prideful, cruel, clueless me, who didn’t know my right hand from my left.  I would have certainly felt right at home in Nineveh.

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Andrew was diagnosed at 4 months gestation with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, and when he was born we added clubbed feet, strabismus, low IQ, and chiari malformation to the list.  But those things are just in the physical, they don’t affect what kind of person he could be on the inside.  His disabilities, while making life a challenge, weren’t sinful.  And still there were Christians who advised me to walk away, to abort him emotionally.

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And I imagine that every time he gets the chance, the accuser is busy reminding YHVH of the many reasons why He should back out of the adoptions He is still working to finalize.   But I think our ignorant imperfections move His heart far more than they disgust Him, which is why He gave His Son.  It is His desire to see us healed, and He proves it by never being willing to leave us as we are.

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So everything about us that was, and is — He sees.  We can’t hide it from Him even when we hide it from ourselves.  And that reveals more about His loving character than a thousand books could hope to expound upon.  That is love, not that we loved Him but that He first loved us, as revolting as many of us were.

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And then, what is our response to that great love?  Is it to remain disgusting, vile people, or is it to become as much like Him as possible?  What is our responsibility to others?  How do we represent His love in the world?  It isn’t simply by loving according to His laws, although to follow Messiah and walk as He walked we must certainly do that, but it is also to love with His love — and His love is amazingly humble.  To truly love those who are still as we were — isn’t it imperative that we look on them as He once looked upon us, with mercy?  And if we do not, are we not defiling His Name among the lost?  We can be firm, we can accurately represent His ways, and yet not condemn — as we were mercifully not condemned.

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For the Creator of the Universe to even humble Himself to look at me, to take me on as a special project, as His child — that isn’t charity, that is the ultimate manifestation of grace and love.  He had nothing to gain, nothing except for the restoration of His child.  I can tell you that to see my child walk fully healed, a whole human being physically — it would mean more than anything to me.  And so I take that longing inside me, and I think of how deeply God desires me to walk as a whole human being, how He must hurt because we are not whole.  How can I not cooperate with that?

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That is an intensity of love that we cannot really fathom, it is the place where mercy and grace and wrath and jealousy come together into the perfect expression of paternal devotion.  That’s the love that pulled Rahab and Ruth out of the disgusting muck that they were raised in, and placed them in the genealogy of the King of Kings.  That’s why a prostitute and an idolater became mothers in Israel, because the line of David and the line of Messiah is about the restoration of a bunch of abominable, spiritually disabled people who mistakenly see themselves as “just fine” until they look into the mirror of God’s Word, and begin to see that they really are special needs after all, and really in need of supernatural healing.

 

Andrew, our adopted special needs son, about 13 years ago
Andrew, our adopted special needs son, about 13 years ago. I know, cute little stinker, isn’t he?
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