The Embrace of a Child

written by Jimmy Newkirk, Associate Pastor (May 15, 2023)

She was only eight years old, but both her arms were locked in a vice grip around mine. Her eyes looked up at me as though I was asking her to give up her most prized possession, practically begging me to not make her let go. As I knelt beside her, she refused to unbuckle or get out of the car.

It was a Saturday morning, and Breanna had just had her first overnight stay with us as soon-to-be adoptive parents. In our brief time together, she had tasted and seen the future of a new family. She had felt the love of a mom and dad. She had touched stability and security, perhaps for the first time. She did not want to let go.

Because it was early in the adoption process, we had to let go for the moment. We promised to call and speak to her regularly at her foster home. We promised more, and frequent visits. We gave her a picture of us and promised that one day soon she would be with us forever.

I will never forget that embrace. I will never forget that look of desperation and unrestrained desire to be with her forever family. I will never forget my own overwhelming desire to hold her close, always.

We don't think of Breanna as our adopted daughter, even though that is the process by which she became ours. She is simply our daughter. Family. Completely. Forever and without qualification.

And yet, as much as I love her, God loves her exceedingly more. One day, as a child of Christ, God the Father will bring her to her eternal home. In fact, for all who are in Christ, we are children of God, heirs, and co-heirs with Jesus Christ, adopted into God's forever family (Romans 8:14-18; Ephesians 1:3-6).

Just as I attempted to comfort Breanna, asking her to trust us, pointing to better days ahead, so also John 14:1-6 reminds us:

“'Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also.  You know the way to where I am going.' 'Lord,' Thomas said, 'we don’t know where you’re going. How can we know the way?' Jesus told him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"

Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, but we should remember that these were troubled men. They had found what they were looking for and yet Jesus said that He must go away. They had touched and seen what their hearts most desired. They had experienced love and power and grace that went far beyond anything they had ever experienced. Jesus, the Son of God, had given them a living picture of God the Father. They wanted to be with Him for in Him was true love, true security, and eternal life.

In that moment, He taught them trust. He taught that He was preparing a place - an eternal, forever home - and that He would soon bring them into His home to be with Him. He has prepared a place for all His children.

They didn't know what to do, but in essence Jesus told them to hold on tight. Hold on in faith. Hold on to the One, who in that precious moment, became their most prized possession. Hold on passionately with an unrestrained desire as if your life depended on it. Hold on with the embrace of a child who desperately wants the security of the Father. And thank Him for holding on to you for He will never let go.