Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Spirit of Adoption

Prompted by the Spirit months ago, I've been praying about FEAR lodged in the crevices of my heart, praying that God would remove it.  Fear of flying, Fear of standing in front of a church-load of people, and certainly Fear of singing into a microphone in front of a church-load of people.  I've done all of these things.  I've flown to Ethiopia and back (not very gracefully, I might add), I've stood in front of groups of women, and I've sang with worship teams in the past and present.  But here's the thing, I do it AFRAID.  I stood before our worship leader weeks ago, tears welling after worship and said, "I don't want to do this anymore.  I don't want to FEAR.  It's threatening to consume me."

As I sat down before the Lord this morning, my Father quietly whispered, You have not been given the spirit of fear, but adoption and He took me to Romans 8:15:  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!

One thing I've learned through adopting two of our children, is that  it is a long and arduous process, and there is NO way a child can choose and work his way into a family on his own.  The child is often in midst of desperate poverty, darkness, and just so far-off from his family.  There must be someone to step forth, to give a ransom, and to claim the child as his own, giving him his name.

While signing the official paperwork for A's and G's adoption, the official looked straight at us and asked as more of a statement than a question, "You know this is FOREVER."  Tears formed and a lump caught in my throat.  Jim and I looked at each other and together we looked back at the official and and said in agreement, We know.

Baby Feven, with no last name, abandoned near a market in Dire Dawa, would now be Ana Grace Feven Laubach.

Baby Kibrom, with no last name, abandoned in the Dessie Region of Ethiopia, would now be Gabriel John Kibrom Laubach.

Many people will often say, "Oh, you renamed them."  Well, actually, we believe God had these names chosen for them.  We were given the names in 2007, two years before they were born.  I'll never forget the day I looked up the meaning of the names, as we considered naming Ana, Hannah.  I was stunned to read:

Ana means "gracious" and Grace well, it means Graceful.
Gabriel means "devoted to God" and John means "God is gracious".

This is not a plug for adoptive families to rename their children because I believe the last name, the family name, it's the name with the most significance.  Although the children were given new names, they flew home on their father's name, James Laubach.  They could not fly home on their own names, so their passports would read, Feven James Laubach and Kibrom James Laubach.  Much like us, as children of God, claimed for His own, our personality is not taken from us, we're still individuals, but we're part of a bigger family, and we're known by the name, that is, the character, of our Father because of His son through the power of the Holy Spirit.

After leaving the embassy, and signing official paperwork, we went to sign Ana and Gabriel out of the orphanage forever.  There was one outfit, a little white shirt and skirt, that Ana wore while visiting us throughout the week, as we transitioned them into our family, that I was tempted to ask for in exchange for an extra outfit we had brought.  But something occurred to me as I pondered this.  This is who Ana was.  Symbolic of our spiritual adoption, these clothes were to be left at the orphanage, and she would receive the new clothes from her family.  Much like us, as adopted children, we are to take off the old self and put on the new.

When we pray "in the name of Jesus", we're not just praying in the superficial name, J-E-S-U-S.  We're praying in the name, the character, all of WHO Jesus is.

Little Ana, was leaving behind her former self, all of what her life entailed, and was being placed in a family, receiving the family name, a new inheritance, a father.

I often say to Ana as a means of disciplining and teaching, "Ana, that's not who you are.  That's not what this family does.  When she was two, I would often have to say, "Ana, in this family we use our hands for gentleness and hugging.  We don't use them to hit or scratch."  Now that she's three, I find myself saying, A LOT, "Ana, we don't throw a temper tantrum to get what we want.  Ana, I am for you. I am not against you.  I am here to help you, and I love to give you things.  However, I know what's best for you.  Sometimes that means you get what you ask for and sometimes it means you don't.

As I continue to look to my Father for guidance thought-by-thought about fear, I hear him say, Angie, that's not what we do here.  You are my child, and my child does not fear.  My child trusts.  I will never leave you.  I will never forsake you.

Learning to be a child, loved and cherished, can be a tricky thing for us who have once been far off and now brought near (Eph.2:13). I recently heard it called "Spiritual Amnesia".

We forget WHO we are because we forget WHOSE we are.
We forget we're loved.

But God.  He draws us tenderly (Hos.2:14).  Promises to protect and never leave (2 Cor. 4:9, Josh 1:5)  His name, that is, His character, is Faithful and True. (Rev. 19:11)

I believe it's just one of the many reasons our Father delights to spend time with us upon waking.  First, He knows we need Him.  He knows were weren't created to live a moment on our strength.  Secondly, He knows we have spiritual amnesia, and just one night's sleep can allow us to forget who we are, whose we are.  Praying for my children, all 4 of them, that they would know who they are IN CHRIST.  Praying they will seek the Father daily to learn to know Him, all of who He is.  Exhaustively, no.  Accurately, yes.