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Plenty of Room in the Family


By Ray Pritchard

When Leslie Lynch King, Jr. died earlier this week (January 2007), it made headlines around the world. Commentators talked about his legacy, and in the United States flags were lowed to half-staff in his honor. That always happens when a president dies.

But who was President King? You can’t find any record of a man by that name occupying the White House. But he did. Leslie Lynch King, Jr. served as president during a crisis moment in American history. He is remembered as a decent and honorable man whose solid Midwestern values guided his political career. You can’t find any record of President King because no one by that name ever served as president.

Leslie Lynch King, Jr. was born on Monday, July 14, 1913 in Omaha, Nebraska. His parents separated sixteen days after his birth and were divorced the following December. According to press reports (cited by Wikipedia), his father was abusive and had a drinking problem. His mother took her baby and moved back to her parents’ home in Grand Rapids, Michigan where she later married Gerald Ford, a paint salesman. He later adopted young Leslie and gave him his own name. Thus Leslie Lynch King became Gerald Ford, the 38th president of the United States. As I write these words, he is lying in repose in California, awaiting the formal state funeral in Washington next week.

I never knew he was adopted until he died, and therefore I never learned his birth name until I read it in the news reports. Born Leslie Lynch King, by adoption Gerald Ford entered a new family and was given a new name.

Adoption Defined

Many Christians don’t realize that adoption is a profoundly biblical concept. It is one of the key words that the Apostle Paul uses to describe our relationship to God. Let’s begin with a simple definition.

Adoption is the legal act of permanently placing a child with a parent or parents other than the birth parents. Adoption results in the severing of the parental responsibilities and rights of the biological parents and the placing of those responsibilities and rights onto the adoptive parents. After the finalization of an adoption, there is no legal difference between biological and adopted children in most jurisdictions (From the Wikipedia article on adoption).

In a number of places, the New Testament uses the word adoption to describe how we come into God’s family (Romans 8:15, 23, 9:4; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5). When we come to Christ, God sends the Holy Spirit into our hearts to give us new life and the assurance that we are God’s children. This is the “still, small voice” of God that speaks to the soul and whispers, “You are now a child of God.” That same Holy Spirit within us cries out “Abba, Father.”

The word “Abba” comes from an Aramaic word that little children would use to speak to their fathers. It is an intimate, personal word of endearing affection. In English you might say “Dad” or “Daddy” or “Papa” or “Dear Father.” It’s a very tender way of talking to our Heavenly Father. No longer is he some distant God up in the sky. Now he is our “Heavenly Daddy.”

If we know Jesus as Savior, God is now our Heavenly Father and we can come to him in prayer anytime, anywhere, for any reason, and he will never turn us away. When we are in trouble, when the world has turned against us, when we are so discouraged that we feel like giving up, when we are confused about what to do next, the Holy Spirit whispers, “Talk to your Father in heaven. He’s waiting to hear from you.” The Spirit within us brings us back to our Father again and again and teaches us to say, “Abba, Father.”

Adoption guarantees the following seven things to every believer:

1) You are a full member of God’s family.

2) You have full rights and privileges in heaven.

3) You have immediate access to God.

4) You belong to his family.

5) You bear his name.

6) You have a full share in the inheritance he promises his children.

7) Satan has no claim on you because you are no longer a part of his family and he is no longer your father.

The moment you come to Jesus Christ, all the resources of heaven are put at your disposal.

What does all this mean?

You are rich now. Don’t live like a pauper.

You have the Holy Spirit. Don’t live in the flesh.

You have access to God. Use it.

You have brothers and sisters. Lean on them.

You have spiritual gifts. Put them to work for Christ.

You have been set free from Satan’s power. Don’t mess around with the devil anymore.

You have a new family. Stop living like you belong to your old one.

On earth, adoption gives a child a new name, a new home, a new address, a new history and a new destiny. The same is true with God’s adoption. It gives the child of God a new name, a new home, a new address, a new history and a new destiny. The poet Robert Frost defined home as “the place where, when you go there, they have to take you in.”

Brothers and sisters, God is our true Heavenly Father because he chose to add us to his family. Because of adoption, when we go to him, he always opens the door and says, “Welcome, my child. This is your home forever.” Amen.

©Keep Believing Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Dr. Ray Pritchard is the founder and President of Keep Believing Ministries. For twenty-six years he has been a pastor, speaker and author of twenty-seven books. Married to Marlene for thirty-three years, he enjoys being a dad to three sons, biking, world travel and playing with Dudley, beloved basset hound. Learn more about his ministry at www.keepbelieving.com.