Orphan To Heir

  • February 28, 2012
  • Blog

“If this thing ever really gets serious, I need you to know that I can only marry a man who is excited about adopting children one day.” When Jennifer said this statement early on in our relationship, I so wanted to keep dating her that I think my response was something like, “Oh, yeah, sure, that sounds great.” What I didn’t realize at that time was that she was completely serious. When Jennifer was about seven years old, she was profoundly impacted by a movie she saw on a first grade field trip. Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist affected her so much that God used it to tenderize her heart towards orphans all over the world. Jennifer’s passion for these children didn’t stop when we were dating, when we got married, or when we had our daughter, Grace. It only increased.

After eight years of marriage, God began to prepare my heart for the same. Two years later, Rudy Nasser joined our family. This amazing seven year-old boy from Guatemala is a daily affirmation not only of the beauty of physical adoption, but the life-changing work of spiritual adoption.

Spiritual adoption is the act by which God allows us to become members of His family. Through spiritual adoption, God makes us His children. Through Christ’s completed work on the cross, we receive right standing with God through justification. Justification is a legal term. It implies that justice has been served, and that we are in right legal standing before God. Our sin and guilt are forgiven. Adoption, however, is much more personal than justification. Adoption is a family term. Although through justification we are forgiven, through adoption we are embraced by God and become His heirs. It implies love and acceptance. Author J.I. Packer says, “To be right with God the judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God is greater.” If God wanted to simply save us through justification by faith, then He could have stopped there. But He didn’t. God has not only saved us, but He has also taken us in and made us a part of His family. Think about it. Jennifer and I could have saved Rudy from a life of poverty and hardship in Guatemala by paying for a good home, education, food, and all his other debts, without giving him the benefit of our last name. That is called sponsorship and it’s a good thing. It is a whole other thing to bring him to our home, hand him the keys, give him our name, and say, “It’s all yours. You are now one of us.” That is essentially what spiritual adoption does.

If justification makes Jesus Christ our savior, then adoption makes us joint heirs with Him. In Ephesians 2:6, Paul refers to this truth when He says that “God raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Again in Romans 8:16-17, Paul writes, “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…” We go from the orphanage to the mansion.

I remember the day that we told Rudy he was our son. It 9:00 a.m. in Guatemala and the adoption attorney brought him to our hotel so that we could spend the day together. We had never met him and we were scared to death. As Jennifer and I left our room, we looked over our balcony inside the indoor atrium. We saw Rudy sitting on a couch looking very tiny and waiting for us. We could only see the top of his head. His hair was parted on one side and slicked down as if he were trying to put his best foot forward. Jennifer says she knew immediately that this was it. We prayed all the way down the elevator. We took one look at him and had an overwhelming confirmation in our spirits. After spending the day together, we were all weeping when it was time to part. Jennifer and I were crying because we felt like we were leaving our son behind in Guatemala. Rudy was crying because he thought we did not want him. The second we realized that this was the reason he was so sad, we were quick to assure him that, although we had to leave to go back to America, we would not rest until the day that he came home. As I was hugging Rudy, I told him, “You are now a part of our family. You are my son.” At that moment for Jennifer and me, it was more binding than any adoption certificate. Although in our hearts Rudy was our son and we were his parents, it was 21 months later before we were actually able to bring him home. Although Rudy wasn’t physically with us during those long 21 months, he was still our son. We prepared his room, bought him clothes, wrote him letters, and signed him up for an Upward Soccer team. He was just as much our son then as he is now that he is here with us.

Paul gives us that exact same hope here in Ephesians chapter two. He is reminding us that although we will be not at this moment physically seated in the heavenly places with Christ, we can hold fast to the hope that we are positionally there until one day when we are eternally there. We become heirs of the promise. Charles Spurgeon said, ”The first born alone was enough to fill the father’s heart throughout eternity. And yet the Lord puts us among the children. Blessed be his name forever and ever!” “Behold what manner of love the father has given to us that we may be called the Sons of God” (1 John 3:1).

Getting back to Upward Soccer, as I am writing this chapter Rudy just finished his last game of the season on Saturday. I saw my son score a goal and immediately turn his eyes to the sidelines as if to say, “Did you see that, Daddy?” To Rudy, I am Daddy. I am not guardian, sponsor, or even adopted father. I am Daddy. He has the confidence that I will love him and he will always be able to call me Daddy, no matter what happens in his life. He feels free to bring me his victories, defeats, needs, and wants. He is confident that I will listen and always try to do what is best for him. He did not feel this way about me when I was a stranger, only after I became Daddy. No other children but my own call me Daddy. This is what Christ called God in the garden of Gethsemane, and it is what we can call God today. Abba, Father … Daddy.

Adoption is the personalization of our faith. Through God’s grace demonstrated through adoption, we are able to approach God freely and with confidence. Hebrews 4:16 reads, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Paul also tells us in Romans 8:15-16, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God.”

In Mark Stibbe’s book, Orphans to Heirs, he encourages us to pray this prayer daily. I think it is a beautiful conclusion:

God’s word tells me that I’m an adopted child of God and that I’m infi- nitely loved. Holy Spirit, I welcome you into my life afresh today. Please bring a new revelation to my spirit that Abba, Father loves me for who I am and not for what I do. Please place me once again under the affirming radiance of the Father’s smile. Amen.


This post was an excerpt from the David Nasser’s book, A Call To Grace. David is the Lead Pastor of Christ City Church in Birmingham, AL.