Joy’s name did not suit her. As an infant she had been placed in the custody of Child Protective Services. Her story could be the story of a multitude of kids in the Foster care system. By the time she was 5 and ready to enter kindergarten, her mother had surrendered her rights. By kindergarten, Joy had been in eight foster homes. Her cardboard suitcase, a gift of one of her foster mom’s, was battered, but it and its contents were her prize possessions. She refused to allow anyone to touch it. Joy was a sullen, distrustful child…not the least bit joyful. Although legally adoptable her age and frankly her disposition and behavior made that option unlikely.
In many ways, Child Protective Services had saved Joy’s life. Conditions in her mother’s care threatened her growth, safety and her life. The guardians assigned to her case followed her diligently and her foster care met the guidelines. They tried to prepare her for a time when a family would choose her as their own. And when Joy was 7, a couple did adopt her.
In Galatians 3:23-29, we learn that God put his chosen people under temporary guardianship, custody of the Law. Over the centuries from Moses to Jesus, the Law did what it could to protect, preserve, and watch over the people of God. The Law’s guardianship ended when God who had already chosen his children sent Christ.
For Joy, like us sometimes, just being chosen doesn’t necessarily do the trick. Just because they buy you new clothes and you have a room of your own doesn’t mean you can trust them. Joy carried her cardboard suitcase into her new room and lived out of it for months. She chose to wear clothing far too small for her growing frame and refused to wear her new things. Her hostility wore on her adoptive parents, but they prayed, waited, and continued to love her…including disciplining her consistently.
No one really knows what happened in Joy’s life that changed her, but gradually she began to trust their love and by the time she entered 5th grade, she had chosen her parents just as they had chosen her. They were a family. She even threw the cardboard suitcase and its tattered contents away.
So it is with us, when we by faith choose Christ, who has already chosen us, we entered God’s family as full members, siblings with those like us and those different from us who have also chosen Christ. We belong and in that belonging we are reclothed in Christ…out with the tattered, dirty, stained sin clothing and on with Christ clothing. We are everyone of us heirs to the Kingdom!
Time to toss out and burn that cardboard suitcase!