Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We are Adopted (Just Like Addie)

Ephesians (3:14-21):
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Two friends, Fred and Cheryl, went to Haiti twenty-five years ago to pick up a child they had adopted. Addie was five years old. Her parents had been killed in a traffic accident that left her without a family. As she walked across the tarmac to board the plane, the tiny orphan reached up and slipped her hands into the hands of her new parents whom she had just met. Later they told us of this “birth” moment, how the innocent, fearless trust expressed in that physical act of grasping their hands seemed almost as miraculous as the times their two sons slipped out of the birth canal 15 and 13 years earlier.

That evening, back home in Arizona, they sat down to their first supper together with their new daughter. There was a platter of pork chops and a bowl of mashed potatoes on the table. After the first serving, the two teenage boys kept refilling their plates. Soon the pork chops had disappeared and the potatoes were gone. Addie had never seen so much food on one table in her whole life. Her eyes were big as she watched her new brothers, Thatcher and Graham, satisfy their ravenous teenage appetites.

Fred and Cheryl noticed that Addie had become very quiet and realized that something was wrong—agitation…bewilderment…insecurity? Cheryl guessed that it was the disappearing food. She suspected that because Addie had grown up hungry, when food was gone from the table she might be thinking would be a day or more before there was more to eat. Cheryl had guessed right. She took Addie’s hand and led her to the bread drawer and pulled it out, showing her a back-up of three loaves. She took her to the refrigerator, opened the door, and showed her the bottles of milk and orange juice, the fresh vegetables, jars of jelly and jam and peanut butter, a carton of eggs, and a package of bacon. She took her to the pantry with its bins of potatoes, onions, and squash, and the shelves of canned goods—tomatoes and peaches and pickles. She opened the freezer and showed Addie three or four chickens, a few packages of fish, and two cartons of ice cream. All the time she was reassuring Addie that there was lots of food in the house, that no matter how much Thatcher and Graham ate and how fast they ate it, there was a lot more where that came from, she would never go hungry again.

Cheryl didn’t just tell her that she would never go hungry again. She showed her what was in those drawers and behind those doors, named the meats and vegetables, placed them in her hands. It was enough. Food was there, whether she could see it or not. Her brothers were no longer rivals at the table. She was home. She would never go hungry again.

My wife and I were told that story twenty-five years ago. Ever since, whenever I read and pray this prayer of Paul’s [Eph 3:14-21], I think of Cheryl gently leading Addie by the hand through a food tour of the kitchen and pantry, reassuring her of the “boundless riches” (Eph 3:8) and “all the fullness” (3:19) inherent in the household in which she now lives.

Practicing the Resurrection, pp. 159-160

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