Today read Psalm 65 and Galatians 3:23-4:7
My grandmother was a Duck. Not the quack, quack with feathers kind of duck, but the old family name Duck. At least that’s the story I was told. It all gets a little confusing when you try to trace our lineage. We go all the way back to Sir Francis Drake (there’s the Duck thing), who was a was a British sea captain and pirate that died in 1596. Because of the pirate part, the Drake was changed to Duck and by the time my grandmother’s relatives reached Virginia, it became Fowler.
To add to the confusion, my grandmother, Lottie, and her sisters, Hattie and Mattie, (you can’t make this stuff up), along with a brother whose name escapes me, were all orphans. They lived as small children in a not-so-nice institution in Fredericksburg, VA, and from there my grandmother, we called her Nanny, was adopted out to a family that settled in Cynthiana, KY, and opened a restaurant called Biancke’s. (There will be a quiz at the end of this.) As I understand it, the adoption was little more than an indentured servant arrangement. Nanny was brought into the family to work long hours at the restaurant, tend to the “real” kids of her adopted parents, and basically do the work that no one else in the family would do, until she was rescued away by my grandfather. That kind of adoption was not uncommon in that day.
Adoption is an interesting phenomenon anyway. A young child, sometimes infant, is taken from the mother that gave birth to it and plunked down in the arms of a family that it does not know. There is a whole study in psychology on “attachment theory,” the idea that how that child reacts to that trauma will set the stage for every relationship it will have for the rest of his or her life. There is a lot of pressure on both the adoptive parents and the adopted kid to make the transition well and get the whole thing right. We seldom do.
I don’t know if Paul had all of this in mind when he used the “adoption” motif in Galatians 3 and 4 but he sure sounds like he knew Lottie Fowler, my grandmother. Galatians 3: 23 uses the words “custody,” and “locked up.” In verse 24 he says, “So the law as our guardian.” That sounds a lot like Biancke’s Restaurant and working long hours and not feeling very “attached.” Adoption doesn’t sound very pleasant, does it? Especially when the one doing the adopting is the LAW. “Do this.” “Don’t do that.” “Can’t you do anything right?” “Just get back to work and try harder.”
But then, as is true all of the time in the story of our Faith, Jesus. Verse 24, “Christ came that we might be justified by faith.” You know that word, justified? JUST-AS-IF I’D never been anything but a real child. So much so that in Galatians 3:28 Paul writes, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for ALL ARE ONE in Christ Jesus.” An old sermon illustration tells the story of a Sunday School teacher that had two new boys in her class one Sunday. They had the same last name and they claimed to be brothers, but their birthdates were only a couple of months apart. “How can this be?” she asked. “You are brothers but only a couple of months age difference.” “Well,” one kid explained. “One of us is adopted.” The teacher asked the expected question, “Which one?” To which the kid replied, “I don’t know. Our parents never told us.”
That’s the adoption that God offers. You and I and the little Baby in the manger are all part of the same family. “Joint heirs with Jesus,” Bill Gaither says. All of the good stuff that is available to a child of the King is available to me. Not because I work my fingers off at Biancke’s but because He loves me and calls me His child, and lets me call Him Daddy. (verse 4:6) So John writes in I John 3:1, “Behold what manner of love the Father has for us that He allows us to be called His little children.” And then the Living Bible says, “And think of it. WE REALLY ARE!” That is the kind of adoption I like. So, this Christmas season, take a little while to crawl up in the lap of your Abba, Father, and thank Him for rescuing you from the restaurant and adopting you into the Family of the King.
Here’s one other funny thing, when I Googled Lottie Mae Fowler this morning one of the things that popped up was a real estate listing on Lottie Fowler Road in Fredericksburg, VA. Now, I don’t know, but wouldn’t it be cool if somehow, the story was told of my grandmother and her sisters, Hattie and Mattie Fowler, and her brother Ed, (I remembered), and somebody decided to name a street after her? That’s a really neat idea. When I get to heaven I’m going to ask her, and I expect to see PoppyC Courtney Boulevard. Cause I’ve been adopted.
Oh, Great God, and Father of all creation. Thank you for adopting me into the Family of the King by virtue of the birth of Your Son and My Brother, Jesus Christ. My I live today as one who is a royal heir. Amen