As I walk through Delhi, with a cute brown-skinned baby girl, everyone’s eyes are on us. They stare in interest and, finally, work up enough courage to the inevitable question: “Is she yours?” I start my typical spiel, “My husband and I adopted her from Hyderabad. She is ours forever.”
This short conversation ends most of the time with them telling Anaya “You are so lucky that you have been adopted.” I, in return, always end the conversation with “No, we are the lucky ones.”
You see, I am the lucky one!! In the few months that she has been in our home, she has changed my outlook completely on just how much God cares for me. I have always known that God loves me, but now I know that he ADORES me.
“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love” John 15:9
Anaya is not your typical little Indian girl. She has a rare skin condition call genetic ichthyosis. She was born with severely dry skin that cracks, becomes scaly, peels, and requires daily care. As I began to care for her every morning and evening, God began to show me, through her, just how deep his love for me runs.
We prayed for and about Anaya and took her into our home knowing that she had this skin disorder. Yes, it was scary. Yes, I would second guess if I was capable of caring for her. But it only took a few minutes once I had her in my arms for my heart to fall helplessly in love with this brown eyed baby girl. Anaya does have scars and things that others are quick to point out, but those are hidden by the love I have for her.
Every morning as I sit over her in the bathtub and peel off all the layers off that have formed on her body, I become aware of all the sins that pile up on me like dead skin. They can cause ugliness in my outward appearance, but, even more troubling, is that underneath they’ve left scarring from all my previous sins. God is even more patient with me in the shedding of my sins and the healing of my scars than I am in the care and keeping of Anaya. Even though I’ve done this to myself, made myself scarred and ugly, he doesn’t see any of it because He ADORES me.
It can be easy to forget the condition we were in when God loved us, especially if we have been living for Him for years. We must examine the gospel again, remember our former state, and renew our thankfulness for the work God has done to redeem us. We, too, were not pleasant to look upon. We had many dark things hiding inside, but God loved us in spite of all of that. He did not try to “fix” us before he would save us. He took us just as we were and THEN began a work from the inside out.
“For I am confident of this very thing, the He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6
When I dwell on the great love and patient care the Lord has lavished upon me, I turn back to Him in love. I live and minister on the other side of the world, gladly, because the Father goes with me, protecting me and meeting every need. I serve my family with pleasure because I have been taught to love so well by the sinless Savior who died to ransom my yucky heart. I am able to see myself like He sees me, through eyes of grace, and I am motivated to care for myself in the slaying of sin and the laying down of the layers of scars I’ve allowed to accumulate. I let His strong yet gentle hands prune me, making me better suited for the work He has for me. I am always, ever sure of His love for me, and I refreshed and renewed by it in the same way I hope my daughter is by my love for her.
One morning, as I sat on my bed, holding her in my arms after a bath, she gave me a really tight hug. This was the first time she had given me any indication that she loved me. I burst out into tears. After a couple of weeks of caring for her, I was longing for her to give me an “I love you too, Mom”. In that moment, I got a small sense of just what I mean to God in a big way. How He must long for me to spend time with Him! He waits so patiently, so lovingly for me to show my love for Him. In this realization, and in so many other ways, this girl has radically changed me.