As some of you well know, my family was blessed with the priviledge to adopt a girl from China this past summer. Although my time at home was relatively short, I was able to enjoy watching and spending time with her. On that note, I was also able to learn and reaffirm some important truths.
Number 1: Total Depravity is Real
What exactly is innocence? Some people would measure it by visible actions, others people would judge it by how young and cute a child appears. The definition of innocent can vary greatly among people, but one thing is clear. The Bible says that no one is innocent and that all men have fallen short of the perfect glory of God. Not only are we not innocent, but we are the advocates, supporters, and defenders of iniquity (Romans 1:32). We love sin. We are born into sin and have inherited a curse from Adam that cannot be broken apart from faith placed in grace displayed on the cross.
So what exactly does this have to do with my sister? Often times people would consider children, especially kids under two, to be in a state of innocence. At times it’s easy to see where people are coming from: toddlers take great joy in the simplest things, their smile and laugh are adorable, they do not know the troubles of the world or have experienced trials and tribulation. If you’re looking at kids through a worldly wisdom, this would make a lot of sense.
However whenever I see my sister angry or upset that she didn’t get her way, I’m always reminded of this example I heard from a sermon. Let’s say you were holding a baby and her eye catches a glimpse of the shiny watch on your wrist. Naturally she shows interest, and reaches for it. You notice her reaching for it and tell her, “No.” She continues to reach for your watch. Again you tell her, “No.” She’s beginning to get flustered and you can detect a whining pitch in her voice and reaches with more vigor – again you say, “No.” She begins to cry and nearly lunges out of your arms to grab the watch. You respond with a loud and authoritative, “NO!” and all of a sudden you have a hysterical baby on your hands (literally). The point of this example is this: if you gave that girl the strength and body of a NFL linebacker, she would have no problem thrashing you and ripping that watch off your wrist over your dead body. The self-serving man-centered mentality starts early. Very early.
Forget appearance, all kids are self-centered and worshippers of self, even my admittingly adorable and precious sister. I see it as a blessing that I was able to watch the example above played out in real life because all doctrine has great influence from the concept of the total depravity of man (if this is heretical, please let me know). There is none who does good, not even one except for Christ. When one goes to court against false accusations, a declaration of innocence from an earthly judge is rendered null in light of the eternal judge’s verdict. Kids are cute, sin is not.
Number 2: Of a Child-like Faith
On a more positive note, it was great to be able to witness what a child-like faith looks like. I realize that my sister’s child-like faith is not to a holy God, but the symbolism I saw was still important to me as I examine my own life.
My sister can’t do a lot by herself. She has trouble climbing stairs. She can’t go to the refrigerator and make herself a sandwich. There is a sense of an absolute dependence on her parents and brothers for survival. Her guardians literally give her what she needs to survive and she (in a sense) recognizes that. Katie is literally in a state of helplessness. When she cries out, she has faith that someone will answer and provide for her. This ain’t no prosperity Gospel, but it is true in a sense. God does provide for His children if they turn to Him in piety and faith.
Katie is also always under the watchful eye of someone. She’s always getting her hands on things and finding new ways to make common-place things into toys. It is necessary for whoever is watching her to reprove her if she does something wrong. She is to listen to that person because they know best and she is but a child. Is that not also true about our Father in heaven? Does not 1 Timothy 3:16-17 say that the Word of God equips the believer for every good work? He has spoken to us through His Word and laid out all His commandments so that we may obey for our own good and to His glory. He knows what is best for us. The idea of being under the watchful eye promotes ideals of authority and sovereignty which are reflective of parents and of God. It reminds me of the concept me of the latin phrase “coram deo“, which means to live as if to conduct yourself before the presence of God on an every-moment basis. The idea of coram deo provides strong insight into what it means to have child-like faith. We are always held accountable. We cannot escape the “penetrating glaze” of authority. We are to live in a manner that reflects the desire of our guardian and have faith that what they know holds greater weight than what we know.
It is so easy for us to tune God out when He says, “No.” My sister isn’t an angel by any means, often wandering off on her own and refusing to walk when told to walk. While there is a dire need for the intervention of someone greater, we often think we can do things on our own at our own pace. I know that is true of me. It’s easy to not “abhor what is evil” and to set worthless things before our eyes. One of many lessons learned from my sister is to listen to authority, namely God’s word.
I’ll probably talk about the grace of adoption in another post.
Number 3: Kids are a Full-Time Job
Before I left for Irvine, my mom said, “I’ll miss you because now I have to wake up Katie instead of letting her sleep while you make sure she’s doing okay.” Wow mom, way to show the love (just kidding).
In all honesty, I never had much respect for parents until this summer. I was a babysitter of three for my dad’s family friend for four hours a week in addition to watching my sister. I got to see a pretty broad range of growth: a two year old, five year old, ten year old, and a 12-year-old. There are difficulties raising kids of all ages. It wasn’t so much discouraging as it was, “What in the world am I going to do once I have kids?” While there is only one way to raise kids, the biblical way, there are many ways to go about it and the number of influences and stimulations kids are exposed to these days is mind-boggling. It really is something to prayerfully consider when the option is available to you.
Note to self: Don’t have passion babies. They seem like an unexpected huge load of unforeseen and poorly planned work.
Note to self 2: People at church are always looking for ways to get rid of old toys and clothes that their children used so you never have to buy anything.