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The Second Trip

July 27, 2010

The morning Brielle became legally ours, my Bible reading plan had me in Romans 8. Many of us know and love this chapter for its rich promises of future glory, sovereign preservation and everlasting love. But on July 20, 2010 it was all about adoption! For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” (vs. 15).What happened legally in that small courtroom in Ethiopia has happened in the Spirit for every believer. Brielle was transfered into our family. The Spirit has transfered us into the Family of God the Father. The law of the Spirit has set us free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (vs. 2). Brielle was no longer an orphan. We are no longer slaves. Brielle’s adoption happened as Devon and I travelled to Ethiopia, paid money and gave testimony that this precious little girl was the one we wanted as part of our family. Our adoption happened as God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemning sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us (vs 4).  Brielle now belongs to us. We know belong to God, since anyone who has the Spirit of Christ in them belongs to God (vs. 9).

Any parallels that exist between our adoption of Brielle and our adoption by the Father are only there to accentuate the greater glory of God’s work in Christ! Everything about His “adoption process” was greater. The wait has been far longer, since this same chapter shows us to be chosen before the foundation of the world. The distance travelled was far wider, since Jesus left the glory of heaven to suffer on earth in order to bring us home. The cost was far higher, since we were not only helpless but also hateful toward God. And of course the reward He provides is far richer. We are adopted as sons of God, meaning we are co-heirs with Christ of everything God has made! We are to inherit the universe! We are to rejoice in the glory of God rather than be crushed under the wrath of God. All of this means that the love of the Father is far higher than any love or wait or distance or cost we have experienced or hope we have offered during our adoption. What we are doing is a shadow meant to point to Him. And by His grace I pray this pointing will leading many into His love, especially my new daughter!

But it was the first item on that list that struck me today as I have been reflecting on our experiences in Ethiopia. The wait. We are in between two trips to Africa; the first to go through the court system and become her legal parents, and the second to get our visas to bring her home. And as much anticipation and excitement as there was before we met her for the first time, there is even more as we look forward to the soon-coming day when she is not only with us legally, but is with us in reality – in the flesh!

Of course there are parallels here too. God is an adoptive Father “required” to take two trips to claim His new children as well. The first time He sent His Son to pay their penalty and provide their righteousness under the law so we could become legally His. But our homecoming is awaiting His Second Trip, the time when we will be with the Father in fullness (see Hebrews 9:28).

I can’t wait for that day! Both days! I can’t wait to go get Brielle. And I can’t wait to meet my Father! Experiencing one has helped me get ready for the other. The sense of trembling excitement that I felt as I waited for the nannies to come around the corner with my new daughter in their arms is just the faintest, slightest, dimmest foretaste of the trembling joy I should feel waiting for the trumpet to sound, the sky to split and the Son (my Brother!) to appear and lead me to see the Father. That day will be so great that Scripture capitalizes it – it will be the Day!

As I wait for our second trip to go get Brielle, I am so thankful for the pictures. They are a way of “seeing her” and anticipating what our life will be like with her in the family. And as I wait for the Father’s Second Trip, I am so thankful for the Spirit. The Spirit is inside of us, not only as a promise and a seal, but also to grant us access into the Presence and Power of our Father. The whole world will be under the rule of God when He comes back. But we can be under His rule, enjoying His Life and living in His Family right now by His Spirit. What a tremendous gift the Spirit is! It is this Spirit that helps us as we wait for our adoption as sons (vs. 23-26).

I wonder what would change in my life if I hungered after this Spirit-aided access to my Father as much as I hunger after my embassy-aided access to Brielle? I wonder what would change in your life? Would you join me today in asking the Spirit to help us toward change? We can ask with confidence because the Father chose to adopt us so that we could be transformed into the image of His firstborn Son (vs. 29). May this work of transformation begin even now, as we await the Second Trip.


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  1. Wow…this was SO encouraging to read. Thank you for writing this. I love the parallels! I had never thought about Christ’s comings like this until you and Devon started talking about your two trips.

    I love the part where you said, “What happened legally in that small courtroom in Ethiopia has happened in the Spirit of every believer.” This is such a beautiful picture of the Gospel! When I read this it helped me understand the Lord’s heart toward us- to bring us into His family through salvation. And then seeing your longing for Brielle shows me that our Father’s heart truly longs to be with us. I am so thankful for this beautiful picture!

  2. Emily Beal permalink

    What a wonderful post, Nathan! I know I’ve only met you once years ago, but Devon and I are able to keep up a little via facebook and I’m so thrilled for your family. And this post so touched me and excited me! What wonderful insight into the heart, sacrifice and promises of God via adoption. How great that He has revealed that to you both as you participate in your own adoption process. I pray for smooth travel, transitions and lots of joy in this season for each of you and your children.

    Much love to the Dankworth/Tarr family!

  3. Priscilla permalink

    thank you for the added glimpse at the blessing of adoption and sharing your insight from physical adoption and also of our relationship with God thru spiritual adoption.

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