***Warning!***Philosophical Post Ahead!***
Yesterday was Easter. April 1st. Easter is kind of an important day for the history of mankind. Officially, though American Culture seems to have hijacked the meaning of the day, Easter is about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This timeless and unbelievably important act cannot be under emphasized in its value to humanity. Essentially, it bridged the gap between man and God. It finished the work of the Cross and finalized the invitation of “whosoever believes” can be saved and be with God. But we’ll save the theology for another time.
Yesterday, as we participated in celebrating the resurrection, our pastor quoted the verse from John where Jesus said, “Greater Love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Of course, in this instance, Jesus was foretelling the disciples concerning his own death on their (and consequently all humanities) behalf. Jesus was freely laying down His life for theirs; taking their sin; taking on death so His “friends” throughout all the ages wouldn’t have to. But Jesus’ likely had in mind others who would sacrifice their lives for “friends,” and even now and then enemies. All of the disciples would eventually give their lives for the cause of Christ and for their friends for all generations to make Him known. My point: Countless selfless acts of sacrifice have reinforced the truth of Jesus’ message throughout the ages.
When I think about this passage, I naturally think about death. The ultimate sacrifice. Shedding blood and the last breath in my lungs so that someone else can live – or at least live eternally. But I’m not entirely sure this understanding is all Jesus had in mind.
As I sat in church yesterday thinking about this, I got to thinking about families, like ours, who’ve adopted. In many ways I see parallels. I see adoption as one of the expressions of this verse. What do they “lay down?” What do these families sacrifice so their friends can live?
We’ve loved with incredible love. Any family who’s adopted or fostered has had to choose this kind of sacrifice to love children who are sometimes incredibly unlovable and broken. Frankly, it takes a different kind of love than loving one’s biological children. Loving adopted/orphaned/foster/broken children is not like anything I’ve ever done. I kind of think this is how God often chooses to love us….as former orphans, we too are sometimes unlovable. God couldn’t love us with an every day kind of love. Or even a familial kind of love. It takes the greatest love in history to be able to love this way. The laying down of our lives for this kind of love is remarkable.
When a family chooses to love orphaned children, we get a crash course in the sacrifice it takes to love with this kind of love.
We lay down an incredible amount of emotion – on every level and then some.
We endure rejection by those who are supposed to love us.
Often our love is spurned by our very own children.
The future we dreamed for our family is forever changed because of an adoption journey. Some dreams will never be realized. Many are put on hold. Some die.
We put a ridiculous and, I think, criminal amount of money into this process – to say NOTHING for the amount it will take to raise these kids to adulthood. Amounts we never considered: Retirement plans, college savings plans, family savings, vacations, transportation needs, housing needs, schooling, therapy, etc. There are many grants out there for adoption expenses, but none for the afterMATH!
Relationships with our spouses and our biological children are placed in jeopardy, at least statistically speaking.
What our biological children have had to sacrifice, through no choice or fault of their own, is something we think about every day.
We love with purpose and passion to raise these children to be effective adults WITH NO GUARANTEE they’ll even stay around when they grow out of our house.
I’m not trying to toot the horn of adoptive families or gain sympathy. We’re not whining and we’re no superheros. I’m just saying the sacrifice is nothing to dismiss and most people will never see the depths of sacrifice nearly every adoptive parent makes to love their children. People on the outside only see the “social media” version of our families, like the Easter pic I shared above. They never know about the tears, arguments, testing of our marriages, challenges to parent in a whole different way, and so much more. It takes an incredible love. A love powerful enough to overcome frustration, fear, feelings of rejection, grief, passing desires to quit, to fulfill this calling.
This adoption has affected my family, my marriage, and me personally in ways I could never have anticipated. I believe every adoptive family, in the dark moments, wonders what life would be like if they’d never adopted, even wish, rarely, they could go back. These passing thoughts have run through our heads from time to time as well. Thankfully, they’ve never been anything but passing. This has been a calling for us. Not a choice we made or something we just thought would be interesting. Like our lives in ministry, this has been a calling from God. Had He not spoken to us, we never would have done this. He loves us with NO GREATER LOVE. I guess He believes we can love with that same kind of love. That’s why He calls families to love orphans.
Because that’s exactly what it takes, right? It takes a love willing to die for this thing. It’s a supernatural love. The Apostle Paul said the same power which raised Jesus from the dead is at work IN US. My pastor quoted that one too, yesterday. Amy and I can NEVER love our children, biological or adopted, strong enough on our own. We need a supernatural kind of love exuding from our lives to love them or anyone else for that matter with effect. So our Father, in His wisdom, placed in us who believe the VERY SAME POWER which raised Christ from the dead so that we can LOVE WITH THAT VERY SAME LOVE!
I’ve spent a lot more of my life loving in my own strength than loving in His power. It’s why my love is imperfect. My love is finite. My love can be tainted. But when I love my wife, my kids, my fellow man, with a supernatural love only found in the Power of God, there is no more powerful force in the universe. I am learning and want to love with this kind of love. This is God’s love. There is NO GREATER LOVE.