Saturday, May 22, 2010

Adoption and the Holy Spirit

Before we could tell my in-laws that we were applying to adopt a child, my husband's grandmother remarked how sad it was that his cousin had to raise someone else's children rather than being able to have her own.  As you can imagine, I had hysterics.
Many friends would say something like, "don't worry; once you adopt, you'll probably get pregnant right away."  And a dear family friend often said about her adopted daughter, "we love her as if she were our own."

Now I knew that adoption was the right thing for us to do.  Both of us came to that decision through prayer.  But I worried about how we would bond with a child that we hadn't given birth to, particularly since we were not expecting to adopt an infant.  Then my sister Beverly told me that giving birth to Michelle and seeing and holding Michelle for the first time were completely unrelated events.  As soon as the nurse said, "here's your baby" and put her in Bev's arms, that is exactly who she was.  And is. 

The first time we met Heather, we knew she was ours.  It didn't matter that we hadn't made her, that I hadn't carried her for nine months.  It didn't matter that she was three and not a tiny infant.  We took one look and became parents of an adorable blonde little girl.  Life before Heather was a distant memory in the blink of an eye. The same was true for Matt although the circumstances were much different.   My kids couldn't be more mine if I had birthed them.

It really doesn't matter when we come to know God for we are children of God NOT from the moment we set eyes on God but from the moment God sets eyes on us.  Jesus came to let everyone know that they were already children of God.  They just needed to turn to God, centering their life on the Lord rather than the marketplace, the pasture or the vinyard. 

Jesus knew we wouldn't always remember that, though.  So he sent the Advocate to be with us always.  What a wonderful word that is!  An advocate supports, advises and instructs, argues for us and maybe even with us when we stray from the way.  Advocates are active.  It is not a sedentary job but requires a lot of work.

When we think of the Holy Spirit, do we think of an active, relentless being working hard on our behalf all of the time?  Or do we think of a being who occasionally comes down to touch our lives with a little bit of flame?  The collect says that God "taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit."  The flames that descended on the disciples didn't stop at the crowns of their heads.  They went straight to their hearts and continued to burn there long after that fateful morning.

When we are baptized, the prayers ask that we be filled with God's "holy and life-giving Spirit."  Not just on the occasion of the application of water and oil but for every moment of our lives.  Read the service of baptism and see how many times we invoke the Spirit.  It's a lot!  We are serious about the place of the Spirit/Advocate in our lives.  This is not a casual, on-off relationship; it is for life.  Whenever we feel alone or abandoned, remember that the Spirit is actively working on our behalf.

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