(The above picture is a favorite one of our two kids. Ethan was newborn and Emilie 4 in this photo.)
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! (Romans 8:15-17 The Message)
As I entered the world, my mother went through pregnancy without my birth dad. I have a name other than my birth name. One father helped in the procreation process. Another chose to raise and love me as well as my brothers. This weekend is Fathers Day, so many of us have on our minds not only what it is to be a dad but what our dads were to us. I’m happy that my stepdad insisted I be raised with his name. His motivation was not only pride in passing on his lineage to us, it was to display his joy and commitment in raising us as wholly his.
One of my uncles, who never had kids of his own, saw my dad’s boys as special to him. He adopted us in his heart. Upon his death, he made sure to include us in his will. One sad moment in family history was that his wishes were not carried out. A family member chose to use a legal tool to change the will and disinherit us since my brothers and I were not “blood relatives” of our uncle. We did not know this until some time had passed.
My mother, who has always proved heroic to me, has experienced so much injustice in life that she chose grace in her response. The money was probably not very much, anyway. The gesture from an uncle was really what mattered. He remembered his brother’s sons who carried his same family name. And, he wanted everyone else to see this as well at the close of his life. In the end, those that disinherited me could not really take that away.
A name is a powerful thing. Even when obstacles come and try to erase it, this given name cannot be taken away. God has called us to be his adopted sons and daughters. We were born into darkness, but all of our past can be exchanged for a new one. A new name. This spiritual adoption was made possible and irrevocable because Jesus took not only our debts, but the debts our fathers and theirs fathers when he died on that cross. Now, the weight of debt of both what we were born with and what we have done and even will do in the future is erased. Our new name says it all. We are wholly God’s children.
On this Fathers Day, I hope you will contemplate the power of a name and what inheritance can mean. It can mean that find your inheritance in God–life eternally. Adoption is powerful because orphanhood is detestable to God. There are many who do not have a father to advocate for them. Imagine having a Father in heaven who will never disinherit, abandon, or reject you. This proposition is what we call the gospel or good news. Following Jesus is about accepting a new adoption and a new life. It means literally becoming his child.
Father’s Day then can mean so much more. Many of us who are now dads are just learning what this means for our own kids. Seeing the kind of father our heavenly Father is empowers our parenting and our life. What we inherit surely shapes what we pass on to our sons and daughters. So, I’m thankful that I had a dad who gave me his name, and I wear it proudly–even though it is too long for standardized forms and hard for cashiers to spell. Thanks Dad!