It was such a joy and privilege to speak at this year's event. I got to share about some of the beautiful, transformative truth I've learned over the past few years about how adoption is the perfect analogy for how we join God's family. And to ensure that I never lose the notes, here they are! I hope this truth touches your heart this Christmas as deeply as it has mine.
The Focus of God's LoveHi, my name is Jamie Morningstar. My family and I been a part of the CenterPoint Church family for 16 years. We started coming to CenterPoint after moving to Utah from Maryland right after college and CenterPoint has been our church family ever since.
Tonight I get to tell you a little about how our journey to adopt our daughters has changed my perspective of God’s love for me,
for each of us.
Our Adoption AdventuresLet’s rewind to 2007.
After 6 months of research and prayer and financial planning we decided that it was time to grow our family, and that we wanted to grow our family through adoption. To dramatically oversimplify the decision, at the end of the day we knew that there were kids in the world who needed a family, and we were a family who wanted a kid. That equation made sense to us.
And so we decided to pursue international adoption.
But there are a few moments I will never forget, a few emotions and mental snapshots that define the whole experience for me.
Like, when we received our first photo of our daughter.
Of course, the adoption process had always been a personal journey, but the moment our daughter became not “our daughter” but when we saw her face and knew her name, that changed everything. We weren’t just pursuing a process or pursuing a child - we were pursuing this child. Our child.
I remember the intensity of my fury at any delay, any snag in the paperwork that kept me from that child, from my child. I remember thinking, “Don’t those government officials know? Every extra day they take processing this form is a day longer our daughter is suffering? Every day is one day longer that she isn’t getting the medical care she needs, the nutrition she needs, the love she needs?”
And, of course, I remember the visceral, body-wracking joy of that first meeting.
Those first few minutes of inexpressible joy, that was the joy of parents who has labored for months and years and traveled half the world finally holding their daughter in their arms.
There is little in my life that I have worked so hard for, that I have sacrificed so much for, or that I have received so much joy from.
Our Adoption Story in God
But we’re not here to talk about me, or to ooh and aah at adorable pictures of my family :) Adoption was and continues to be an incredibly growing, stretching experience for me. The biggest change that the experience of adopting our girls cultivated in my heart was a totally new understanding of God’s love for me, as expressed through Jesus.
Through our adoption adventures, Ephesians 1:3-6 has become an incredibly personal passage of scripture for me. It reads
How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.Do you see hear this is saying?!?
God chose you as the focus of his love!
God planned to add you to his family!
Motivated by his love and desire for you, God pursues you!
God adopts you!
And God celebrates adding you to his family!
It’s like that experience when we first saw Sasha’s photo, and suddenly we were no longer pursuing the idea of a daughter - we were pursuing that girl. Our girl.
God has known you and dreamed of adding you to his family since before the dawn of time. He didn’t have to wait for a picture to arrive. His pursuit of you has always been the unique, individual, personal, tender love of a father.
In Jesus, he came to you. He was born as a helpless baby - that’s what we celebrate at Christmas! We celebrate Christ coming to us, becoming like us, all for love.
Not only did Jesus sacrifice his authority and position as God to be born in a stable, raised by normal working class folks, sharing in our pain and sorrow and weakness, but Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could be made right with God. He died for us.
God is perfect; we can never be - and God’s perfection cannot abide the sin of our nature, our prideful rebellion against him. And so Jesus - all God, all man, and completely perfect - took our sin upon him and died. Jesus sacrificed himself, so that we could call God “Daddy”, so that we could enter God’s family fully accepted,
made right with God.
And this is all God’s work! It’s a lot like our journey to Sasha - Sasha literally did nothing. She couldn’t! She couldn’t go out and find herself a family halfway across the world. She couldn’t apply for a visa or U.S. citizenship. She couldn’t pay lawyer and court fees or buy herself a plane ticket to the U.S.! The idea of a toddler doing any of that is completely preposterous, right?
The same thing goes for our adoption into God’s family. We can’t earn it,
we can’t make ourselves good enough.
We can only say “yes” and accept that love.
And when we say, “God, I’ve got nothing going for me. I can’t be perfect, and I’m done pretending - take me as I am. I accept Jesus’ sacrifice for me on the cross. I want to be yours."
When we accept God’s love, the Bible says there’s a party in heaven! There is sheer, exuberant, unrestrained joy at our adoption into God’s family!
The Bible is clear - when we are adopted by God, we become children of God. We get to call God, “Daddy”. We get to live with him forever as part of his family.
Our ResponseSo what? What does all that mean for you, today?
First, I challenge you to care for the vulnerable.
There are 140 million orphans in this world. 40 million people live in modern day slavery. Just as God sacrificed and reached out to you, we get to do the same for the neglected and abused in our world.
There are 1001 ways to care for the vulnerable, from considering adoption as a way to build your family, to supporting organizations like International Justice Mission that rescue slaves and defend the rights of the poor, to supporting the CenterPoint Mission team and the Hogar de Amor orphanage as they care for vulnerable kids in Colima, Mexico.
But this isn’t about what you need to do. This is about what God has done for you.
Listen one more time to what the Bible is saying to you about God’s love:
Long before God laid down earth’s foundations, he had you in mind, had settled on you as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago God decided to adopt you into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted you to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
If you have already said yes to this love, then this Christmas revel in that joy in a new way. Bask in being the focus of his love.
And remember that it’s ok if the journey is still bumpy. I know of no “happily ever after” “everything is smooth-sailing” adoption story. Our relationship with Sasha takes daily work. It’s a two-way street now, and as our daughter Sasha is a part of deciding how that relationship is going to evolve and grow. The effects of her early traumas provide very real challenges to her and to our relationship. Living as family is hard.
But as parents none of the hard stuff changes our commitment to our relationship. In fact, the tough times often bind us closer together. Sasha is our daughter.
Focus of our love.
and totally ours.
The same is true of your relationship with God - life can be hard, even if you have already said “yes” to his offer of adoption. In the sweet times and in the heart wrenching times, he is with you, leading you, loving you. Nothing ever can or ever will change your position as his daughter,
the focus of his love.
and totally his.
And this Christmas, if you don’t know if you’ve said yes to this love, if you aren’t sure that you’ve accepted his invitation to adopt you, you have the opportunity to accept the greatest gift of all.
Say yes to God. Accept God’s perfect, astounding love for you and his sacrifice to adopt you - that he has chosen you, sacrificed for you, done all the work to make you his daughter.
Revel in his joy in welcoming you to his family.
Respond to being the focus of God’s love.