I occasionally receive a report by e-mail from Southeast Asia. The one who sends it has been working in that region for the past few years as a missionary. Such activity is technically illegal unless a church is registered with the government, but this man’s work is well known to local authorities and they have seen many good things come from his efforts.
The last report had a picture of a four-year-old girl in his arms. He told of how this girl had been abandoned at birth and left on the doorstep of the building where the church meets. This man did not turn away from the infant as others obviously had. He made sure she was given a good home and would be raised properly. Today she looks healthy and happy, thanks to the love of strangers.
I had a similar experience nearly 30 years ago. It happened one morning when a lady who cleaned the church building began screaming. A newborn had been placed in a basket and left on the church doorstep. Authorities were immediately called and the child was taken into the state’s custody. I have no idea what happened to that child, but attempts were made to provide care and nurture.
Such stories are not uncommon (unfortunately), and they provoke differing emotions. On the one hand we wonder how any parent could simply abandon their child. Did they not care? Or were they in such hard straits that the only way they could adequately care for their child was to give it to others? On the other hand we are warmed by stories of those who take children as their own, even though they’re not. Such compassion is a bright light in an otherwise dark world.
God used such a scenario to describe His love for His people. In Ezekiel 16 the Israelites were compared to a baby who had been abandoned: “… but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born. And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!'” (Ezekiel 16:5,6) God then told of the care He provided for this child for several years, only to be rejected later for other lovers.
The same illustration could describe our situation. Paul stated what it means to be lost in our sins: “That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). But a very different situation appears when Christ enters our lives: “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).
How does a person move from being “aliens” to being members of God’s family? In a nutshell here it is: “To redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:5). God offers to adopt those who have been abandoned by the world. Instead of living among the garbage heaps of life, fending for ourselves as best we’re able, we can move into God’s house and eat from the King’s table!
A message given to John in his visions of heaven pertains to you and me: “Then he said to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”‘” (Revelation 19:9). We’ve been invited become part of the family of God. Are you really going to decline that invitation?
Timothy D. Hall.