When Karl Barth, one of the sharpest and most significant theological minds of the 20th century, was asked towards the end of his life to try to summarize all that he had learned and written in his volumes of writing and career in academia, he responded with this: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
J.I. Packer writes, “you sum up the whole New Testament teaching in a single phrase, if you speak of it as a revelation of the fatherhood of the Holy Creator.”
The experience of the unrestricted and unashamed love of God is one of the most incredible realities for those who have been adopted by God. And certainly, so long as we live on this side of the parousia, learning to comprehend this indescribable blessing will be something we only see in a mirror dimly. We have the assurance of experiencing the Fatherly love of God as we mature, but not until we raise up to meet him in the air, will we fully be melted by the quantity and the awesome quality of God’s love.
As we continue to reflect on the beauty of adoption this month, we look today at the intense intimacy that adoption creates towards the believer. And intimacy with our Father means not only that we have the invitation to step forward and to “draw near” to Him. It means that in ways far beyond our desires, we are now the objects of a love that desires to step nearer to us.
There is a story that I know of, and have been longing to share, that helps us see this. A picture in the tangible touches of our world that helps to stir our hearts into ruminating on the promise that God’s love for us to know Him intimately means that he comes to us.
This story is not mine to tell. Thus, I give you the privilege of experiencing the powerful presentation of this tale of adoption in the original journal (click to read). This will give you chance to live in the life of the Laytons. Pastor Phil, his wife Jaime, and their family of (then) four daughters and son, shepherd Gold Country Baptist church in rural Shingle Springs, CA. For years, the Spirit had worked in their hearts to move them towards adoption. For the sake of space, I will summarize to say that after much prayer, God graciously lead Phil and Jaime to a pastor and an orphanage in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and from there to a little baby boy – Mark Joseph Waleza Layton.
Yet, after all the labors of adoption were completed, and all the costs of adding to one’s family were paid, Phil prepared to depart for Africa to touch and to bring home his son. Two days before his flight departed, he received this news – that his Son, Mark, had passed away.
I leave you to read the journal first hand, but I can’t help but not repost this from the memorial. Phil while burying his son on 8/31/11:
“I didn’t realize how much I could love someone I’ve never seen in person or touched physically. But as Christians we understand our greatest love is for someone we’ve never seen or touched physically-the Lord- and His greater love is present here in great ways.”
Yet the Sovereign God who allows us to experience great loss and sorrow also comes to us with wings of celebration, joy and delight. As Phil began to leave the Congo, another beautiful child arrived at the orphanage, and the usual red tape around adoption readiness were miraculously inapplicable to this young boy.
In his blog/journal, Phil recounts that the promise that God’s mercies are new every morning because a bedrock reality during these two months. I’ve said it before, but read this message – it’s there to be shared.
But what their story also shows us about adoption is the power of God’s love, and how its intensity is beyond our grasping.
Little Mark Joseph in his age had no idea the kind of sacrifice and love that his Father had made to come to get him. Although adopted months earlier, the love of Mark’s Father drove him to travel across the world to express a legally declared reality as a face-to-face, flesh-to-flesh encounter. Because the Father chose and loves His Son, He in His choice and power comes to deliver the experience of intimacy with him.
And although he has now tasted, Matteus Samuel in his cute one-year-old mind does not have the mental development to comprehend the passion his father has to love his child, and to have him understand and to enjoy his entwined intimacy with his family.
Just like Matteus, we can sing the gospel truth that “Jesus loves me.” But just imagine the potential that his little heart has for growing to better witness and wrap his mind around this truth.
May we pause and consider how much potential there still is for us to be drunkenly amazed as we drink of the truth that God the Father delivers such intimacy to us.
 J.I. Packer, Knowing God,” 201.