Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Expressing Father's Heart

Recently, tears cascaded down over the cheeks of literally millions of people as they watched a homemade video that went viral.  A young woman named Misty surprised her father figure on his birthday with adoption papers for him to fill out.  Both of them were overcome with emotion.  The government may not have recognized Ryan as Misty's father, but that did not keep him from relating to her as a father ... resulting in her request for adoption.

The same can be said of God.  In fact, fathering was God's idea from before the Beginning.  And God relates as Father regardless of whether created mankind recognizes Him as such or not.

Because I can't express it more beautifully than Nick Pitts, let him say it for me:
God draws near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18), extends grace generously (2 Corinthians 9:8), and loves lavishly (1 John 3:1). Contrary to cultural belief, God is not mad at us, but is madly in love with us. He quite literally has loved us to death. And Christ's death and resurrection is an invitation to be adopted as sons and daughters of the King.
In his initiating and abounding love, God desires to bring near those who are far away (Ephesians 2:13). He has prepared a place for us (John 14:3), paid the price for us (1 Timothy 2:6), and wants to bring us home to him (1 Peter 3:18). But in the meantime, he encourages us to make ourselves at home (Philippians 1:22-24). Specifically, to make his kingdom come, his will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Dawson on my shoulders when he was a small boy
This morning Pam and I spoke with our only biological son, Dawson, on my iPhone through the astonishing medium of FaceTime. Dawson is now 35 years old, married to the love of his life, and is the best father Reagan, Piper, and JQ could ever have.

He spoke, at length, about adoption and his relationships with us, his mother and father.  It was so rewarding to hear him express the Father's heart.  He summarized his profound conclusions moments later in an email:
  1. God designed family.  He design us to have parents.  Because of sin, corruption, and death, some are left without parents.  They are orphaned.  But, everyone is supposed to have parents.
  2. Jesus left the comfort of Heaven and the fullness of his deity to live and die for our redemption and adoption.  He has shared his Father with us, and called us to be sons and daughters of God.  We are now co-heirs with Christ.
  3. There is nothing that can take away my position as a son of my Mom and Dad.  There is no competition for their love.  I cannot lose them, and therefore gain nothing by trying to hold on to them as if they were scarce.
Dawson, Janelle, Stephanie ... circa 2014
Our grown biological kids
Here in Africa it is common for the younger generation to honor the older men and women with the titles/terms of Papa and Mom.  Pam and I have been called that by many over the past decade that we have resided in Uganda.  It is an honor to be referred to in that way and we take it as such.

However, those terms do not actually define the relationship.  The terms can be used without clear definition. A cousin can be referred to as a sister or brother.  The same is the case with an uncle who can be called father.

After Pam and I began to define terms, with the many Africans with whom we have relationship, we recognized that God wanted us to make four young Africans our adopted children.  Out of all those who call us Papa and Mom, it was evident that those terms meant more to us and them than a cultural honor.  Those terms actually defined the relationship.  After making sure that our three biological children were completely supportive, a check was recently sent to Oregon Adoption so that our attorney could officially begin the process of legally adopting Robert, Ezra, Rebecca, and Chris.  These four adult Africans have been children and family to us for the past three years.

It may seem crazy to some for us to start this process when I am knocking on the door of 70 years of age.  Pam and I may accused of having no clue about what we are getting into.  But, at this age, we are committed to taking more "risks" and exercising more faith in the choices we are making.

Since so many of you have followed our lives in Africa here over the past decade, there is no way that we can secretly move forward in this adventure without inviting you along.  Transparency is a big part of healthy relationships.  So let the journey begin!

It is true that we don't really know what we are getting into. And we are unaware of the challenges we may face.  But, we are confident that this decision expressed the heart of our Heavenly Father. And, that confidence is enough for us.

As in the penned words of Nick Pitts:
Adoption is an earthly echo of a heavenly reality. Adoption seeks to bring close those who are far away. The initiating and compelling love of the parent chooses a child, prepares for the child, and brings the child in as one of their own. While it is costly, it is worth it.


  1. Beautiful, Paul and Pam. Grace to you as you blaze love trails in him!

  2. Beautiful! Love it! I am one of the many blessed who consider you to be like a father and mother as well. There are many of us! :) So glad these four will have the joy of officially being yours. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you for the encouragement, Kari. The following blog written by Pam gives a bit of the back story behind the motivation for making our decision to adopt. We have found being open about the process can be encouraging to others.

  3. And again you two AMAZE me in how you are walking and working in and with our Lord! What an example you are to so many here in the States, but especially in Uganda! May you always seek His face in heart felt obedience!

    1. Thanks so much Debbie. Your visits here to Uganda give you an appreciation for the significance of our decision.

  4. Yes and amen. I am constantly awed at you faith, love, and fearlessness. Carry on my dear brother and sister. The blessing of the Father is flowing to these children through you and Pam.

    1. You also have an inside look at the lives of young people here in this nation of Uganda, Sam. You have always been an encouragement to us to keep giving away all that the Father has given us. He is NOT in scarce supply.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Sam posted twice so we removed his second one since it was redundant.

  6. God is love and you demonstrate Him by a loving act such as adoption; a rare a beautiful thing in a society where life is cheap and love looks like weakness. Congratulations to your new family and may God continue to bless you so richly.


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