When DW and I were adopting LC, there were a ton of steps to the process. We had to have our initial home study done to determine whether we could provide a safe environment, a Federal background check to ensure there were no crimes against children in our backgrounds, we had to hire a lawyer here in Alabama to work on the actual adoption and a lawyer in LC's birth state to do all the things necessary (like terminating the birth parents rights, making us legal guardians, etc) to make her adoptable. Needless to say, it wasn't inexpensive. And also needless to say: it was a hundred million times over worth it.
When I sent the final payment to the Alabama lawyer, we received a letter back from them in the mail. I tore the seal of the envelope open and there, at the top of the page and in all caps, were the following words:
Below those two words, there was the original total of what we owed, followed by a line by line detail of each of the charges incurred during the process of the adoption. Each one of those items, in a very long list, had cost us. In fact, they filled the entire page. Our debt was large.
My eyes continued to scan down the page and I finally found what I was looking for. In red capital letters, there it was: PAID IN FULL. Immediately, I felt that burn you get behind your eyes that tell you the tears are a'comin.
In fact, if someone had asked me to talk in that moment, I'm not sure I could have past the huge lump in my throat. Not only did that Paid in Full symbolize something wonderful for our little family - in every way LC was ours and ours completely - I couldn't help but think that it was a perfect picture of what Christ did for us.
I imagine salvation as a tangible thing and this is what it looks like. It's a letter that comes in the mail and at the top it says: ADOPTION STATEMENT. God looks down this long list of charges against us, knowing each one of those charges created a debt. He KNEW that loving - and saving us - would cost Him but He did it anyway. With His life, he marked our debt: PAID IN FULL
It blows my mind every day that He invited me into a relationship because He wanted me and because I needed Him. He paid the full price to adopt me, made me a full heir - equal in every way to the best and the least in His family - and chose to love me without condition. I'll say it again: blows. my. mind.
Before, in a life Pre-LC, I didn't understand adoption. To me, it was a great concept...it was important there were people (others better than I) who would adopt...but there were more reasons NOT to adopt than TO adopt.
I feel physically sick when I think of what it would have cost me to not sacrifice our finances to adopt our daughter, the very light of my world. Our bank account would have been much more full but our lives and our hearts...our very existence...would have been so much more infinitely empty.
I feel both humbled and heartsick that my list of excuses was always so long...
...what if I don't love them?
...what if they don't love me?
...what if they have problems from _____ ?
But the very first one on my list was always: IT WILL COST ME TOO MUCH.
It could cost me emotionally.
It would most assuredly cost me financially.
It would require I sacrifice myself for another...lay down my life for another.
I say those words again, with tears pouring down my face: It will cost me too much.
How glad I am that my Savior didn't say that about me. How glad I am that He didn't make a list (like I did), of all the reasons saving me (and loving me) wouldn't make sense. How grateful I am that He didn't choose to look at the long list of "debts" against me and say, No, this one isn't worth saving. It will cost me too much.
It humbles me to know that I have been privileged with the ability to adopt and, in doing so, have a new and intimate understanding of what Christ has done for each of us. I think, despite my resistance to adoption, God knew it would brand my heart with the truth of His indelible grace and so it would be. I've been blessed beyond my wildest imagination by the gift of adoption and so you'll never, ever hear me complain about the cost. And if I could sit down and have coffee with Jesus and ask Him how He feels about what I cost Him, I imagine I wouldn't hear Him complain either.
He'd simply reach out and hold my hand in His nail scarred hand and, with a knowing smile, say three of the most beautiful words I've ever heard...
PAID IN FULL.