2 years, 4 months
What’s your name?
My name is Grace Courtney Gill.
What’s Daddy’s name?
And she proundly announces:
Daddy’s name is Doug Gill! An’ Mama’s name is Mon-ca Gill!
Grace is fascinated with names. She wants to know everyone’s name. She wants to put in her mind who they are, and where they belong. She has an amazing memory for people and who they “belong to.” If we are speaking about someone she will group them together with whomever they belong. Auntie goes with Uncle Ricky-rack and Brie. Nana goes with Pappap, B goes with Pa, and she has come to understand that we are “The Gills.”
Not too long after Grace had gotten down our names, I went to get her from bed. She greeted me holding her favorite sleeping buddy, a little lamb named: “Lamby.”
“Mama, what’s Lamby’s name?” she asked.
I didn’t really get the question so I just said: “Lamby’s name is Lamby.”
“No.” Grace said gently hugging Lamby. “Her name is Lamby Gill.”
You see, she was more than just “Lamby.” She belongs. We “adopted” her. She’s part of the family.
This got me thinking about what it means to be part of a family.
Possessing the family name says who we are. When we own the family name it gives us status. Even adopted children have that same status. Ideally being part of a family gives belonging and security. But how many of us walk through life feeling like we just don’t belong? Like we are foreigners or aliens in a strange land searching for “home?”
God’s word tells us: Long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:5) What does that mean? That means we— YOU— are wanted! Are loved! Are chosen! We have a home!
When I realize how much God loves and wants me, and that He chose to adopt me and call me his own… then everything changes! Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but… members of God’s household. (Ephesians 2:19) Household members are not guests. They are part of the family. In family children have belonging and a claim on the future.
What future claim does a child have? Inheritance!
In today’s culture that idea may have negative connotations with visions of squabbling siblings duking it out over cash, assets and family heirlooms. But in Biblical times the family inheritance was something different. Wealth was measured not in cash and possessions, but in land and livestock. The eldest son automatically inherited 2/3 of the family estate, meaning he had both the greatest inheritance and the greatest responsibility to the family.
What does inheritance mean in God’s family?
Since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:7)
As children of His household we are ALL His sons. Yes, ladies, you too are “sons.” The metaphor is not meant to confer gender, but STATUS. This is the radical subversive nature of the Gospel! There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28) In ancient times women and slaves had no status. In such context, imagine how revolutionary it would be to hear that with God everyone has the status of “eldest son!” Is that notion any less radical today?
Remember the eldest son does not just gain a great inheritance; he also gains a great responsibility. In a family every member has responsibilities to carry on the “family business.” This is true in God’s family too. In God’s family we don’t just belong to Him. We also belong to each other. This is why we call each other “brothers and sisters” and why we are referred to as “The Body of Christ.” Not just because we are a “body” of people, but because we each have a distinct role to play in the family. Together, we have the family business to attend to!
When we are part of a family we also take on the “family likeness.” I had a friend growing up who was adopted, yet everywhere he went people said he looked like his mother and was personable like his father. People couldn’t believe it when they were told he was adopted. They couldn’t believe it because my friend had thoroughly taken on the “family likeness.” When we are part of a family we tend to think, act and even look like we belong to that family. Jesus makes it clear how people will know who the members of God’s family are. Jesus says: Love one another as I have loved you. By this all men will know… if you love one another. (John 13:34-35) God’s family will be known by its love. What a responsibility!
But along with taking responsibility in a family, is access to something more significant. Being a child affords a closeness, an intimate access to parents that others can never reach. In the middle of the night a spouse, a sibling or a friend who cannot sleep may very well be on their own to toss and turn. But a child who wakes in the night can call out “Daddy” and find Daddy there to hold them… to rub their back, and whisper love and security until slumber comes again. Who else can make that kind of claim, but a child?
This is the same intimate access that God gives us… gives me… gives YOU!
And by him we cry, “Abba,” Father.” (Romans 8:15)
The Hebrew “Abba” is translated akin to “Daddy.” Do we understand what that means? God is not just the reverent father we honor. He is Daddy. He is not a stern father at arm’s-length here just to guide or discipline us. He is the Daddy in whose arms we crawl. We have that intimate access to the Father’s embrace— an embrace that whispers into the darkness:
“You are loved. You are safe. You are mine.”
Maybe your earthly father was wonderful. Maybe he was mediocre. Maybe he was awful, maybe even evil. Maybe your earthly father abandoned you… No matter what, be assured, this is no earthly father. This Father is out of this world. And there is nothing… nothing that can separate you from this Father’s love!
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us
from the love of God…
A special “Thank You” to Maggie Snyder for all her efforts to help me with scripture research and Biblical themes for this piece!
I love you Maggie!