What could I say? After all, this had all been settled. We had made our choice. Or rather, it was made for us, and we had chosen to accept. Chosen to surrender. Chosen to stand with hands open, releasing our dreams and plans, while eagerly anticipating what God had in store.
Years ago the doctor’s verdict of infertility had rocked our world, but that was long past. The tears we cried, the whispered prayers, the pain—that was all gone. Every day Greg and I had chosen to walk in acceptance of whatever the future held. That acceptance had brought peace and joy.
Time passed, and we were thankful for each day, excited about walking with God, about the possibilities of ministry and the joy of service. Then one year at 3ABN’s camp meeting my world changed. I met two of the sweetest little girls. Blond hair, cute smiles. Somehow we connected. I visited with their mom, and we exchanged phone numbers.
Throughout the year they would text. Pictures of their animals or what they were involved in. Simple things; heart tugging. I was good for a while. After all, they were just two little girls who had somehow reached out. Precious, but at a distance.
Greg and I chose to walk in acceptance of whatever the future held.
Then, unexpectedly, everything changed. They had come for another camp meeting, and I was saying goodbye. As I reached out to hug Sarah,* someone spoke.
“Hey, Jill, are those your kids?” I looked up into an older woman’s face. A camp meeting attendee that I didn’t know. She smiled. “They look just like you! Amazing! Are they yours?”
I couldn’t answer. God, I thought we were through this already. How could the pain come back again? What do I say?
I cleared my throat while shaking my head. “No, they’re not mine.” But I wish they were! I needed to go somewhere, anywhere. Just to get away before she saw me cry.
The woman walked on, her idle curiosity met. Tears spilled over as I looked at Sarah’s mom. What would she think?
As my eyes met hers, I paused. Unshed tears stood in her eyes too. She spoke, and at that moment I received the gift. I didn’t deserve it, hadn’t earned it, wasn’t worthy. But still, it was offered, freely given.
“It’s OK, Jill; you can say they’re yours. You are, after all, their adopted mom.”
I reached out and hugged her tightly. Really? I can be a mom, God?
On that day I received a title I never thought I’d have. The rightful owner gave it to me. Unmerited. Unearned. Longed for, but unasked.
I wonder about our Father in heaven and the title He freely offers: child of the King. Forgiven, accepted, beloved.
That is the greatest gift of all.
Jill Morikone is general manager for Three Angels Broadcasting Network, a supporting Adventist television network. She and her husband, Greg, live in southern Illinois and enjoy ministering together for Jesus.