As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” and, “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ” Romans 9:25-26
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” Gal. 4:4-6
Attention on orphans is all the rage these days, and sadly in the news more and more for tragic reasons. Widows and orphans are the ones continually cited in Scripture as a high priority in the church’s care. Orphans, because they are primarily children, are vulnerable and helpless in many ways. However, as orphans grow out of infancy, they learn to survive on their own. The learn how to protect themselves, in many cases, from the ill intent of those who would seek to harm or use them. Sometimes it is simply by blocking out the cruel realities of those who are in fact abusing them. They learn how to protect themselves from the disappointments and heartbreaks of being alone and not belonging to anyone as a cherished child. Self-reliance is a requirement if an orphan is to have any hope of survival or success.
As we go through the adoption process, we are continually learning about Redactive Attachment Disorder. Institutionalized children often have issues with attachment because they have never experienced it. As infants, the cry of a biological child is usually immediately met by his or her parent with milk, a clean diaper, or simply snuggling arms. A baby in an orphanage among tens of other babies cannot be attended to at every cry, so sometimes they quit crying because they have learned it will not always bring about a response. As the physical and emotional needs go unmet by those around them, they learn to keep these needs to themselves or deny them and often simply withdraw altogether.
The worst case scenario, the one the various materials seem to most want us to understand, is that this child can become permanently detached from other human beings in a dangerous way. (“unfeeling psychopath” was definitely used in one of my readings) This is unquestionably a hazard even for me as a believer who must learn to attach to the Father when the rest of life has encouraged self-reliance and withdrawal.
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:18
“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Cor. 6:18 I am no longer an orphan, but His dearly loved child. I no longer belong to myself, to look after myself, to grab for what’s mine if I have any hope of getting it. I no longer am my best advocate, my only hope or my only chance. I am no longer an orphan. Yet, I continually live like one. It is my assumption, in the course of a day, that God has left me alone to figure out some puzzle, to learn some lesson, to prove my allegiance to Him. What kind of sick parenting would that be? “I signed the paper, now its up to you to become my child!” When I am discouraged, or confused, or disappointed, my first assumption is that with the right perspective, the right answer, the right effort I will be able to pull myself out of the hole and be back into the light. What happened to my Father when I fell in the hole? Did He disappear? Does He stay put in His lazy boy watching for me to get with the program? Does He only come running in emergencies?
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Romans. 8:15-16
He has not left me to myself, to my own resources, to rely on even the gifts He has given me but is present, always, asking me to learn to rely on Him and leave my orphan mentality in the past. He asks me to trust Him. He asks me to rely on Him to do what needs to be done, and trust Him that it will be accomplished if in His economy it in fact needs to be. He asks me to attach my heart to His, my strength to His, my living and doing and breathing to His.
Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast. Psalm 22:9
Even my trusting of God is credited to God Himself! He made me, He draws me out of my naval gazing orphaned inclinations, He is the One who moves in me to will and to act according to His good purposes. Why do I keep thinking He has left me to do it myself? Why do I keep thinking Fatherhood ended at adoption with the exception of occasional rebukes and rescues? Fatherhood means helping with homework, getting the heavy toy down off the too-tall-to-reach shelf, sitting on the bed reading stories, lying down sometimes to help me fall asleep, making breakfast, driving me to school…Why as God’s child do I keep thinking He has left me to become His child without His intimate Fatherhood making me so?
I am no longer an orphan, any hour of the day, in any task before me, in any relationship, through any bad attitude or lack of understanding…I have not been left alone as an orphan in any scenario. When will my heart finally believe this, enjoy this and rest in this? Thank you Jesus that you have made it so and are making it so. And even in my unbelief, you will complete the good work that you have begun.