“And it shall come to pass in that day that the Lord will thresh, from the channel of the River to the Brook of Egypt; and you will be gathered one by one, O you children of Israel.” (Is. 27:12)
Isaiah describes a particular scene, a particular day of judgment and deliverance for Israel, but these events point forward to Jesus who has come to be our faithful Shepherd, the Good Shepherd who cares for His sheep and knows them all by name. He has gathered and He will continue to gather all of them one by one until all of the children of Israel are safe in the fold of His Kingdom.
Baptism is of course one of the central places where God insists that we believe that this true. Baptism is God’s insistence that He is our Faithful God and He will be our Faithful Shepherd. And He insists upon this by gathering us one by one, always as children, naming us after Himself, insisting that we belong to Him, that we are part of His family, and that He will watch over His children. He will feed and keep watch over His sheep.
Joseph you mentioned to me that you named your son Thaddeus for its meaning: a gift of God or in some translations “heart” or “friend.” Likewise his middle name “Grant” resulted from the simple recognition that as you prayed, you regularly pleaded with God to grant you a child, grant you this child, and in God’s goodness, He has.
It’s no secret that today is in so many ways a glorious day. Every new covenant child is a gift, and every baptism is glorious. But sometimes the Lord tells the story in a way that interrupts our expectations, and gently reminds us of His goodness. We’ve prayed for you, Joseph and Sarah, for many months as you pursued adoption, we prayed for you as the Lord opened up this particular opportunity, we rejoiced with you as you travelled to meet your son. And then we all ached and cried with you when it appeared that you would be returning home without him. Today is a glorious day.
You’ve been back for a few weeks now, enjoying your new son, but today God insists that this little boy does not belong to you. In fact, God insists that Thaddeus belongs to Him. And God insists that He is his Father, his Shepherd, his Friend. What you have been granted, Joseph and Sarah, is the same glorious opportunity that every parent is given. We are all foster parents, we are all caring for children that do not belong to us. We are all caring for children who have been adopted by our Heavenly Father. And in fact, we are only here because we too were once orphans, and God has brought us near by the blood of His Son.
The job of every Christian parent is to tell that story to their children, to live that story before their children, to display the good life under the care and love of our Common Father, through the grace of His Son, and in the power and fellowship of His Spirit. May God continue to grant you according to your heart’s desire and fulfill all your purpose as you train up your son in this grace.