Back when David Letterman was still hosting The Late Show, he had Sixpence None the Richer on as the musical guest. After their performance, Letterman commented about the uniqueness of their name, and asked what inspired it. The singer, Leigh Nash, responded that it was influenced by C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. She goes on:
A little boy asks his father if he can get a sixpence—a very small amount of English
currency—to go and get a gift for his father. The father gladly accepts the gift and he's
really happy with it, but he also realizes that he's not any richer for the transaction. C.S.
Lewis was comparing that to his belief that God has given him, and us, the gifts that we
possess, and to serve him the way we should, we should do it humbly—realizing how
we got the gifts in the first place.
As a father, this story continues to strike a chord with me, reminding me of what I've been given. You see, I get the father metaphor, in that I'm often giving my daughter Ruby—and will eventually give my son Theo—the very things that they're in turn giving back to me as their own. Yet, it's the story's child that continues to resonate with me regarding my context as a parent.
Sharla and I have been married now for thirteen years, and during that time, we have warred, painstakingly, against infertility. And, thirteen years later, we continue to lose that war. However, a different battle was always occurring in the background: the fight for contentment with the reality that this very story was given to us by God. While we continue to feel the loss from that war, this latter battle has begin to show us many victories.
Infertility has been the single must disheartening context of my life, but as this isn't a post about infertility, and for sake of brevity, I'll only say that it left me with the reality that answers are not promised—and that is one of the most beautiful truths I've come to learn. Now, when I say answers, I don't mean "blessings" or God responding to a prayer. No, I mean logical, deductive reasoning to the "Why" questions we all face outside of Eden. And it's from this context that our journey into adoption began to take stride.
We adopted Ruby, our first of two children, in November of 2012. Hers is a story that I'll leave for her to tell, but suffice it to be one of fear, loss, and anxiety. Having adopted Theo this last Spring, and experiencing his vastly different context, I was surprised to find the effects were no different; fear, loss, and anxiety were still there. What I mean is that while adoption is a beautiful thing, it exists dependent upon the very loss it's born from.
When I sat by Ruby's isolette in the NICU all those nights awaiting her release from the hospital, one question continued to race through my mind: "Who am I to bring hope to this child when I still wrestle with if God even likes me, or if I’m only in His graces because of the covenant He's bound to?" I literally prayed those questions often to Him as I sat and watched Ruby sleep, breathe, stretch, and so forth. That continued for what seemed like an eternity, until one day I connected a very simple, yet deeply profound truth: even though she is pretty much helpless, untrained in giving back to others, and, in all reality, is a stranger to me, I want to spend all of my waking hours sitting with and enjoying this sweet, precious girl. She made my heart happy.
Just like the verse, when I, a sinful, self-absorbed human, still have this kind of love for a new baby whom I don't even know, how much more does God care about me, who He has known and planned on way before my birth.
This dynamic has greatly helped me consider Ezekiel 16 with clearer eyes. The child in that metaphor of Israel is helpless and incapable, yet the Father sees her at her weakest and still says YES. He sees our need and says yes. He sees our deficits and says yes. He sees our sin, our nakedness, our shame, and still says yes. And what's more, He doesn't do this as some contractual obligation, but goes beyond the legal adoption, vows, and covenants, moving toward a more complete goal, adorning us with His royal robes. At some point in each of our own journeys, He has spoken saying "You were at the time for love."
Ruby and Theo's contribution to my story is a beautiful mirror to my worth in God's story: while we make Him no richer, the Father gives and adorns His children so that they can relish in and experience Him for His goodness. By experiencing my own joy in seeing Ruby and Theo rest in my love for them, I’m given much comfort and joy knowing I can rest in the very same way with God.
Jordan Goings is the Spiritual Life Director at Portland Christian School, as well as a local artist here in town. He completed both an MDiv and ThM, studying philosophy and aesthetics. You can see his art and read more of his thoughts at www.TowardTeleios.com