Sunday, June 7, 2009

Life in the Orphanage

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also … I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. (John 14:1-3, 18-20, NASB)
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I’ve never lived in an orphanage. In fact, I’ve never visited one. I’ve worked and fellowshipped with people who have adopted children from various situations that included orphanages. But the only personal experience I have on this front is the “orphanage” to which Jesus referred in John 14.

Jesus had spent over three years with this group of rag-tag men who had given up everything else to be close to him. They had varying levels of education and social standing. Some of them maybe even had personal agendas based on what they thought Messiah was supposed to do. Never the less, they were with our Lord on this Passover evening in a rented upper room when he sprung the biggest news on them they had ever heard … He was about to leave.

No doubt, this announcement took all of them by surprise. They had just been through a harrowing couple of weeks, not to mention the past three plus years. They had most recently been “hiding out” when they received word that Lazarus had died. Jesus took the short trip to Bethany and one of the twelve (Thomas) said they might as well go along and “die also”, probably a nod to what he felt was an eventual public capture, trial, and execution of all of them.

They had ridden the emotional high that followed Jesus as he entered Jerusalem to cheers and waving palm branches. Those who thought the promised kingdom was about to be established must have been ecstatic. Here they were, tied to “THE Man” and about to be an integral part of something so big, it had taken several millennia for prophecies to be fulfilled. This was IT and they were in the thick of things!

And then He says, “I’m leaving.” The questions follow about where He is going, seeing the Father, and most likely a litany of other discussion not recorded for us. But then he adds what I believe is the most important principle for Christians in the passage. He is leaving them, but not leaving them as orphans.

To me, there is an implied situation and an explicit legal contract in these brief words. First, they were orphans and they were living (as orphans would be) in an orphanage. Second, all the adoption papers and legal filings had been completed. Even though they would continue to reside in the orphanage (while He completed their new home), they would be legally adopted by the Father. They were being left, but not as orphans.

How true this rings as we look at the world around us. Our surroundings, as pleasant as they may be, are transient at best. With other Christians, I often struggle with this. I like to “own stuff” and I do have some very nice things at my disposal. But if I am honest with myself and my God, I need to freely admit they are not mine. Nothing I can actually touch is of truly everlasting value. It’s all transient and perishable. It is all an orphanage.

Jesus clearly states that He and the Father have another plan in mind for us. As adopted sons and daughters, we have another home … one that will so far surpass where we now live that our minds cannot begin to comprehend it. In comparison, this life and all we can see are the trappings of an orphanage. The old Gospel song “This World is not My Home” couldn’t ring truer.

So, maybe I need to change my perspective on the whole situation. I need to keep my bags packed and my heart ready. My adopted Daddy is coming for me at any time. I may be reasonably safe and even comforted (that’s the rest of John 14) for the time being, but I should never forget that I am a former orphan, living in the orphanage called Earth. It’s not my final stop by a long shot … I am just passing through. It’s all just a part of the crooked path.
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  1. Are your adoption papers filed, signed, sealed, and delivered? That is by far the first order of business. Your Heavenly Father has plenty of room for one more “former orphan” in His house.
  2. Have you fallen into the trap of forgetting this is an orphanage? Are you willing to change your point of view and start living like an adopted child of the God of the Universe? How would that look different from the way you live and act today?
  3. Do the other “orphans” view you any differently since you are adopted? What are you willing to change in order to show them your Father and let them know He wants to adopt them as well?

NASB - Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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