“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:5 NLT).
Photographs. Life’s miraculous moments captured via a contraption I can’t quite understand, but for which I’m grateful.
All around our house, we’ve collected them—photos in frames as unique as the images within, evoking memories of milestones and vacations, held timeless under glass.
But there are several which, for me, stir no memory and hold no recollection, although they’re no less dear. These depict a daughter—our daughter—before she came to us at the age of two.
Toothless smile in one with very little hair on her perfect head, swaddled in pink and dressed by another.
And then there’s the one of her upon Santa’s knee—several teeth showing through a crooked grin, her tiny pigtails holding tight the growing locks of a toddler.
It wasn’t her daddy or me who’d taken her to the mall that Christmas and encouraged her in overzealous excitement to birth a smile with Santa. It was others who’d shared that moment and, thus, the memory. Still, they were kind enough to send the box that contained that and many other photographs of the girl—our Allie, adopted in 2012.
Then there are the pictures that mark a new beginning, a ‘start over’ of sorts for our daughter who’d experienced loss. Like our first trip to the beach as a family of five. Allie’s older brothers held her proudly, their smiles proclaiming on glossy paper, Here’s our little sister! Isn’t she cute?
And there are others, too many to count, in frames or filed in photo boxes, held behind plastic in albums. Birthdays and other holidays, school pictures, and family gatherings on the farm—each drawing forth the broader memories encapsulated in a single moment on film.
I asked myself not long ago, “Why is it I hold dear–continue to display–those photographs of our daughter that were taken prior to her having joined our family?”
And the answer came, though the response wasn’t mine. Rather, it was Abba’s voice I heard.
Each is precious, whether she was yours yet or not. Furthermore, might these photographs represent a deeper truth? After all, haven’t you also been adopted, been given a ‘start over’? Did I love you any less before you came to Me, said ‘Yes’ to a new beginning as My daughter? Of course not. So, too, with your sweet girl. She may not yet have been yours, but you love her just the same.
Oh, how sweet that our Savior spoke so specifically to my pondering, explaining my love for this little girl in such a poignant manner, even in those pre-adoption pictures.
As God’s children, dearly loved, we’ve each experienced that moment of having said yes to Him, accepting Him as our Abba Father—our Daddy—through His Son Jesus who came, died, and rose again, defeating sin and death. Thus, we’ve been adopted into His family and are held securely in the confines of His care.
That doesn’t mean that God, in His infinite wisdom, looks back upon our past—those years prior to our full surrender—and loves us any less. He loved us infinitely then as He loves us immeasurably now. He longs for us to leave our sin behind, receive forgiveness by grace through His Son, and receive His ‘start overs’ each time we fall short (I John 1:9).
And the joy it must bring the Father as He watches from His heavenly perspective. To see all the moments of life—both the successes and failures, the milestone moments and even seasons of misery. Perhaps they’re like snapshot frames, most precious when His children look to Him and, even through tears, manage a smile and say–
Now that’s a picture worth a thousand—yes, a million—words.
Dear Abba, You’ve offered us adoption through Your Son. Thank you for the chance to experience a ‘start over’ with You, as Your child. Though You’ve never loved us any less, You’ve invited us to experience the blessing of being joint-heirs with Jesus. Wow!