No Longer an Orphan. She's Part of A Family
Read Ephesians 1:3-6; Romans 15:7; Romans 14:1-4; Romans 14:10-13
I loved hearing the story the first time a snippet of it came on TV. What a woman of perseverance Ileen Macken is, and at the age of 81, she is now enjoying the fruit of her dogged determination. Ms Macken was born in Ireland and raised in the Bethany Home in Dublin.
For six decades, she had continued to search for her mum, with no success. However now with the help of a genealogist, she has not merely found her, she and her family have made a visit to meet Elizabeth. She also became acquainted with two half-brothers whom she didn't know even existed. Ms Macken related the joy of being accepted by Elizabeth and her sons and how her mum held her hand the whole time they were together. Elizabeth told Ileen that she wanted to serve her daughter tea, but because of her age, she was unable to do so. What was important to Ileen was that they were together. What a joy to discover that she is no longer an orphan, and the delight of having met her new family hadn't dimmed, even after she went back home to Ireland. She was still living in the clouds.
When I first pondered this story, I thought about the truth of persistent prayer and how Ileen Macken’s determination is a picture of what Jesus taught in Luke 18:1-8. He wants us to continue in prayer, remembering that God is never reluctant to either hear us or answer, according to His will and timing, 1 John 5:14-15; Matthew 7:7-11. No doubt so much more could be said concerning continuing in prayer and the sweet results of our faithfulness, but Ms Macken's story has another direction too, and it springs from her words of being accepted and the joy of no longer being an orphan. Such precious truths for those of us who already belong to Jesus and any who will receive Him as Savior, John 1:12-13; 1 John 5:13. There are two sides to both these truths. There is our relationship with God and our relationship with other believers.
It is amazing to really think about being accepted by God. I looked up definitions for this very common word. Sometimes the ordinary words are so used that I don't really think about their meanings. One definition of accept that I thought was especially meaningful was "to receive”.
Imagine that. Jesus receives us as we are. He never says that He will accept us if we perform at a certain level or free ourselves from a certain habit. Instead, He makes us a new creation, 2 Corinthians 5:17, totally apart from anything we are able to do or contribute. It is completely His miraculous work that makes us new.
As His work in us begins to change our behavior, His acceptance of us never wanes, even if we are slow to change. Instead, He patiently works in our lives, giving us the strength and even the desire to become more and more like Him, Philippians 2:12-13. It is also wondrous to think about being God's child. We are His sons and daughters, having been adopted by Him. How do we know that we are His? What certainty do we have that we are not orphans? Jesus answered the question in John 14:18 when He promised the Holy Spirit. When we were accepted, we also became homes for the indwelling Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. He came to live in us, sealing us and reminding us that we are part of His Forever Family, Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 1:3-6; Romans 8:15-17. The adoption has been finalized, and we are accepted and irrevocably loved.
Now for the other side of the truth. When we belong to Jesus, we belong to each other too. That means that God's will is that we accept and receive one another in the way that He has received each of us, Romans 15:7; Romans 14:1-3; Romans 14:10-13. Since we have received such a gift from the Lord Who never withdraws His acceptance of us, we can give that same gift to our other adopted and loved brothers and sisters. After all, we all came to Jesus the same way, with nothing to offer Him but our need and nothing to fill that need but His grace. Since He deals with us with such patience, with His enabling, can't we offer that same gift to one another? Even if we must come alongside a brother or sister who is overcome by sin, Galatians 6:1, we are reminded that we should never forget our own vulnerability, and we should treat one another in light of the grace we have so freely received.
Lord, Thank You for accepting us and adopting us into Your family. Please help us to share what You have done for us as You give opportunity.