I was recently reminded of the gift of being adopted into the family of God through the most unlikely of teachers.
I was out jogging when I almost stepped on an injured bird. To be more precise it was a tiny Common Waxbill and it was clearly distressed by its injury. After an initial effort to shuffle away from me the little bird finally gave up and allowed me to pick her up.
As I held her in my hands I could feel the flutter of her heart beat. It wasn’t hard to notice her dis-ease. In a sense, she was petrified of this ‘giant’ who now had her firmly in my grasp. I suppose, with malicious intent, could do her lots of harm.
However, all I wanted to do was help the distressed bird and so I slowly made my way home. Once there I enlisted the help of my kids in making the little bird feel safe and warm. To be honest, even though the kids said a prayer for her I lacked the faith to believe she would see out the night. She seemed to be far too distressed and fragile, but the kids hoped she would survive through the night.
Thankfully I was proved to be a doubting Thomas and the little Waxbill survived the night, much to their delight (and my huge relief). One evening turned into two days; two days became a week and finally two weeks went by –every day proved to be better than the previous one and the beautiful creature is now almost completely healed and should be ready to fly home soon.
God has taught our family much during this little episode about adoption.
I am sure many of you have had your own similar rescue stories, but there was something about the whole incident that truly intrigued me. On bringing the bird home, my youngest child immediately gave the Waxbill a name (Waxy) and wrote the name on a piece of cardboard and stuck it to her new home. My son had no hesitation in adopting a new sister into our family. Not only did he give her a first name, but without skipping a beat, he also passed on our family surname to the tiny bird. It was so natural to him and it brought such joy to our hearts.
This whole process of rescue, adoption and care of a little bird got me thinking about the larger Spiritual truth in the story.
Adoption is nothing new in the Bible. Other families raised some of the ‘greats’ of our spiritual heritage. Pharoah’s daughter raised Moses (Exodus 2:10). Queen Esther was raised by her Uncle Mordecai and his family (Esther 2:7). Later on in the New Testament, we come to the ultimate story of Jesus. We see how God chose a human father, in Joseph, to take care of the young Jesus.
Remember that God is always willing to take care of us.
Sometimes it is not in the way we think or can even imagine, but we believe the promises of God to be true, “… God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
The Apostle Paul went on to understand our spiritual adoption in a broader sense when he wrote his letter to the Romans. The community in Rome were very familiar with adoption as part of their culture and so Paul wrote:
“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).
A few verses later he added, “We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us” (Romans 8:23).
We did not do anything to be counted as worthy of becoming the children of God. The Lord saw us in our distress, took pity on us and rescued us.
Even though we may sometimes be fearful of God, we remember that God only wants to help and restore us. We slowly learn to trust in God’s goodness and so we call out to him, “Abba, Daddy!”
And if we read Paul’s words carefully we are astounded that God delights in us. In actually fact, it gives God pleasure to call us his children.
“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:5).
I will smile the next time I see a Common Waxbill flying around my neighbourhood. I will remember the gift that God has given to all who believe in him – the gift of being part of God’s family.