I started reading the Bible at a fairly young age. I got bits and pieces of its message from a vacation Bible school my parents sent me to as a little girl and around 10 years old, I started reading it almost everyday.
I remember being fascinated by it.
I would read pages and pages, picking up some stuff, but mostly consumed by its mystery. When I came across verses and passages that made absolutely no sense to me, I would feel challenged.
My salvation experience as a little girl was so profound, my challenges never caused me to question God’s love for me.
As far back as I can remember, I’ve always believed God loves everyone and that He is good and kind.
I’ve always believed, when in doubt over certain passages in scripture, my limited understanding was typically the problem, not God’s goodness. For some divine reason, that has never left me. So when bad things happen…
God is still good and kind.
As life happened, though I never questioned God’s goodness, I definitely questioned mine.
I would do something bad and to make up for it, I would then do something really good.
And if I did something really bad, I would get my little butt down to the alter and get re-saved, usually with the congregation singing the song Just As I Am.
Going to the alter to get re-saved seemed to keep me on the good path a little longer.
I had no idea in my preteen and teenage years, I already needed therapy.
I will never forget the day I was lying on our couch with my mom crying because my step-dad had just told me it was my fault he and my mom were divorcing. My mom comforted and reassured me that wasn’t true but I eventually got up and proclaimed,
“Mom! can you please get our family help?!”
Her reply still echoes in my memory, “We can’t afford to get help.”
I walked away yelling, “When I grow up, I am going to help people for free!”
My little girl heart had no understanding people wouldn’t help you unless you paid them. Of course, my mom was only thinking of professional counseling at the time and was unaware there were people in our community who would have helped us if we would have asked. It’s also true that we were mostly unaware of just how much help we needed.
What I know is, throughout my wild childhood ride, God often felt near.
Through my goodness, by badness, my distractedness, my outright rebellion and the very real wounds that compounded over time, God offered me His help.
He offered me help in more ways than I could possibly fit in a blog under 1,000 words…the teachers, the friends, the experiences of His Spirit, His Word, camps, pets, songs, nature, pain, adoption…just to name a few.
No matter how far away I tried to get, He would remind me He loved me and wasn’t letting go…I seriously could write a full memoir on the many rescues of a God whose patient love goes beyond the ends of the earth.
But today I really want to share a little gem in scripture that jumped out to me this morning. It’s found in one of my favorite chapters of the Bible. (For real) Romans 11:24:
“For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?”
It can be so easy to read scriptures and passages like this with a sense of detachment as they speak of both Jews and Gentiles in relation to Christ and how that is made possible. It’s one of those passages you read and say, “I just trust You, Jesus. I really don’t need to understand this.”
But then you read it again on an early September morning and He speaks. What He speaks reveals more of your journey and God’s kindness to “graft us into a covenant with His Son.”
Not based on how good we’ve been but His goodness. His goodness to adopt us into His family…
I came into the family of God as a wild child. I was an adopted kid who came with trauma.
But trauma never has the final say for God’s kids. God’s love never fails. I didn’t say that first, He did.
God is tenacious, more tenacious than we think we are sometimes.
His love knows no boundaries. It finds us, rescues us and continues to pursue us as we begin to look more and more like the blessing He makes us as His children.
God’s children are blessings…sometimes it just takes time to scrape off the lies to get to the truth. But once we begin to see Him and believe Him, once we rest in His love just because of who we are, we begin to look like who we really are.
Never fully arriving but getting closer until…
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is.” 1 John 3:2
Do you see it in this verse? The word BECAUSE can explain many of our journeys in God. We become like Him to the degree that we see Him. And just to keep us all humble, no one sees Him in all the fullness of His glory until He appears again. My prayers have become pretty simple these days…more specific, but more simple and centered on the predominate cry of my heart…”Jesus, let me see You.”
If God has given you the desire to be adopted into His family, you are becoming like your Father.
You are being cultivated in the soil of faith, grace, truth, mercy and His stubborn love for you.
Some of us come into God’s family with more bumps and bruises, but the wounds we come with, will be healed. Sometimes we do things that delay our healing, but God knows how to get us back on the healing path. We eventually see that our fig leaves have been removed and we are clothed with priestly garments.
There are others of us who come into God’s family thinking we deserve to be adopted because we perceive our goodness and performance as proof we are worthy of God’s love. Though we believe, we have not yet seen the magnitude of His mercy, nor understood the price that had to be paid for our adoption. We struggle to rest in God’s love and acceptedness because it’s always tied to our performance.
To all of us, I pray we see Jesus as much as we can today. I pray that as we see Him, we take a deep breath and say, “Thank You. You did for me what I could never do on my own.”
And speaking of “seeing Jesus,” He doesn’t live in buildings, or temples, or holy places. Though we might experience Him in those places, He is found in babies, children, nature, solitude, our workplaces, our schools, and everywhere. Just ask Him to open your eyes today and see what happens! And I’d love to hear about it if you care to share. 🙂