(By Max Lucado)
Search the faces of the Cap Haitian orphanage for Carinette. She’s been adopted.
Her adoptive parents are friends of mine. They brought her pictures, a teddy bear, granola bars, and cookies. Carinette shared the goodies and asked the director to guard her bear, but she keeps the pictures. They remind her of her home-to-be. Within a month, two at the most, she’ll be there. She knows the day is coming. Every opening of the gate jumps her heart. Any day now her father will appear. He promised he’d be back. He came once to claim her. He’ll come again to carry her home.
Till then she lives with a heart headed home.
Shouldn’t we all? Carinette’s situation mirrors ours. Our Father paid us a visit too. Have we not been claimed? Adopted? “So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family calling him ‘Father, dear Father’ ” (Rom. 8:15).
God searched you out. Before you knew you needed adopting, he’d already filed the papers and selected the wallpaper for your room. “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters” (Rom. 8:29).
Abandon you to a fatherless world? No way. Those privy to God’s family Bible can read your name. He wrote it there. What’s more, he covered the adoption fees. Neither you nor Carinette can pay your way out of the orphanage, so “God sent [Christ] to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children” (Gal. 4:5).
Adopted, but not transported. We have a new family, but not our heavenly house. We know our Father’s name, but we haven’t seen his face. He has claimed us, but has yet to come for us.
So here we are. Caught between what is and what will be. No longer orphans, but not yet home. What do we do in the meantime? Indeed, it can be just that—a mean time. Time made mean with chemotherapy, drivers driving with more beer than brains in their bodies, and backstabbers who make life on earth feel like a time-share in Afghanistan. How do we live in the meantime? How do we keep our hearts headed home? Paul weighs in with some suggestions.
Paul calls the Holy Spirit a foretaste. “We have the Holy Spirit…as a foretaste of future glory” (Romans 8: 23). No person with a healthy appetite needs a definition for that word. Even as I draft this chapter, my mind drifts toward a few foretastes. Within an hour I’ll be in Denalyn’s kitchen sniffing the dinner trimmings like a Labrador sniffing for wild game. When she’s not looking, I’ll snatch a foretaste. Just a bite of turkey, a spoon of chili, a corner of bread…predinner snacks stir appetites for the table.
Samplings from heaven’s kitchen do likewise. There are moments, perhaps far too few, when time evaporates and joy modulates and heaven hands you an hors d’oeuvre.
• Your newborn has passed from restlessness to rest. Beneath the amber light of a midnight moon, you trace a soft finger across tiny, sleeping eyes and wonder, God gave you to me? A prelibation from heaven’s winery.
• You’re lost in the work you love to do, were made to do. As you step back from the moist canvas or hoed garden or rebuilt V-eight engine, satisfaction flows within like a gulp of cool water, and the angel asks, “Another apéritif?”
• The lyrics to the hymn say what you couldn’t but wanted to, and for a moment, a splendid moment, there are no wars, wounds, or tax returns. Just you, God, and a silent assurance that everything is right with the world.
Rather than dismiss or disregard such moments as good luck, relish them. They can attune you to heaven.
So can tough ones.
“Although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, [we] also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us” (v. 23).
Let your bursitis-plagued body remind you of your eternal one; let acid-inducing days prompt thoughts of unending peace. Are you falsely accused? Acquainted with abuse? Mudslinging is a part of this life, but not the next. Rather than begrudge life’s troubles, listen to them.
“He will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain. All of that has gone forever” (Rev. 21:4 TLB)
Write checks of hope on this promise. Do not bemoan passing time; applaud it. The more you drink from God’s well, the more you urge the clock to tick. Every bump of the second hand brings you closer to a completed adoption.
Blessings and burdens.
Both can alarm-clock us out of slumber.
Gifts stir homeward longings. So do struggles.
Every homeless day carries us closer to the day our Father will come.