Day 18

Joint Heirs with Christ

from the Romans reading plan

Romans 8:1-17, Isaiah 53:10, Mark 14:32-36

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:1-17, Isaiah 53:10, Mark 14:32-36

Indoor plumbing was a luxury in the Haitian village where my adopted daughter, Missy, grew up. And soft, two-ply toilet paper—that was even more rare. When I brought her home to Tennessee, flushing the toilet with copious amounts of Charmin quickly became one of her favorite pastimes.

How darling!

That was my thought in those early days as I observed her wide-eyed delight at watching massive plumes of paper spiral downward. But after a while, wading through ankle-deep wastewater in my bathroom and writing large checks to repairmen lost its allure.

So I was at my wit’s end a couple months ago when I walked into my bathroom—past my innocent-looking daughter splashing in a bubble bath—slipped on the wet tile, and quickly discovered water gushing out of the commode like Niagara Falls. After a heavy sigh, I morphed into the put-upon persona my mother used when I did something especially naughty as a child:

Doggone it, Missy, HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO TELL YOU not to use giant gobs of toilet paper like this?!

I angrily set about cleaning up the mess. The entire time I was plunging and fussing and mopping up that yucky pond with beach towels, I had my back turned to Missy.

As the water and my irritability subsided, I turned around to see my precious little girl staring at me mournfully, big tears streaming down her beautiful brown cheeks. I’d all but crushed her spirit over something innocent and insignificant. She wasn’t trying to cause a mess. She hadn’t been willfully disobedient or disrespectful. This was a plumbing issue—not a heart issue.

I lifted her out of the tub, dried her off with our last dry towel, and rocked her back and forth until she stopped crying. I carefully explained that it was wrong for Mama to raise her voice, that I’d made a very bad choice, and that I was so sorry I’d hurt her feelings.

That night I called my contractor, who seemed perplexed when I asked, “Hey, Jack, you know those really powerful toilets on cruise ships that sound like they could suck your leg off when you flush them? Can you install one of those in my bathroom?”

Less than forty-eight hours later, our brand-new supersonic vacuum version of a toilet was installed. I cheered so enthusiastically after Missy’s inaugural flush, you’d have thought she’d won an Olympic medal.

Our recent toiletastrophes have reminded me just how much I love, value, and cherish my little girl. They’ve also reminded me of how God the Father loves, values, and cherishes me, His kid.

I’m overwhelmed by the beautiful, redemptive ways He’s moved in my life. How He chose a former Haitian orphan, who lost her first mom to AIDS and never knew her biological father, to effectively rip out the last stubborn roots of the orphaned, fatherless spirit that have been growing in my own heart since long before I was Missy’s age.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory
(Romans 8:14-17, NIV).

Children. Heirs. Coheirs with Christ.

God continues to employ my unlikely, only-by-grace, position of motherhood as a constant, colorful illustration of how He cheers Himself hoarse over every ungainly cartwheel we do (Zephaniah 3:17). How He leans down and hangs on every word of our mostly narcissistic prayers. How—despite our proclivity to make huge messes—He is so completely for us.

Lisa Harper is a master storyteller with a masters of Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary. She’s lauded as an engaging, hilarious communicator as well as an authentic and substantive Bible teacher. She’s been in vocational ministry for 30 years and has written 15 books (her latest being, The Sacrament of Happy: What a Smiling God Brings to a Wounded World) and Bible study curriculums but says her greatest accomplishment by far is that of becoming Missy’s (her adopted daughter from Haiti) mama! They live on a hilly farmette south of Nashville, Tennessee, where they enjoy eating copious amounts of chips, queso, and guacamole.

Post Comments (45)

45 thoughts on "Joint Heirs with Christ"

  1. Tochi Heredia says:

    “He’s so completely for us.”

    I grew up in a dysfunctional family. I was (mostly) raised by my mum and grandmother. I was fortunate enough to grow up in an encouraging, nourishing and, most importantly, Christian home.
    Now, I’m not saying all this to brag. That’s just the big picture. I wasn’t an easy kid to raise, my mum had to work a lot to support all of us, and at times we couldn’t seem to catch a break.

    Today, I’m a young adult still living with my mum, my grandmother passed away 6 years ago. As I’m getting ready to “leave the nest” I’m remembering all those times when they were cheering me from the sidelines, when they were firm in their decisions, when they wiped away my tears, when they disciplined me. They were always completely for me.
    As faulty as they might have been, I’m thankful that my family has shown me a small glimpse of what is like to be adopted into God’s family :)

    1. Heather McDermott says:

      What a beautiful comment! I think all families are slightly dysfunctional in their own ways! It’s a great treasure to be able to see God’s hand of love and adoption through the love of our sometimes fractured families!

  2. Diane Huntsman says:

    “How He leans down and hangs on every word of our mostly narcissistic prayers. How—despite our proclivity to make huge messes—He is so completely for us.”
    These words are gold. In a world where so much can seem to be and on some days actually is against us.. knowing, believing, camping out on the fact that He is so completely for us makes all that is against us not be able to swallow us whole. Yessss all the live-long day! xoxo SRT

    1. CC says:

      I latched onto these same words, Diane! They made me stop in a moment of incredible gratitude for how incredibly He loves us! I love that He’s never too afraid or busy or frustrated to wade through our messes and even use them to grow and mature us and lead us back to Him, the source of all of our joy and peace.

      1. Diane Huntsman says:

        Amen sister!!! Such good truth!!! xo

  3. Caroline says:

    I love all things Romans 8, but love that we get the honor to be co-heirs with Christ. Oh how I miss the true power that comes with that gift on most days

  4. Mera says:

    “You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear…”
    I so needed this today. Overwhelmed with the reminder that God has a plan for it all, He has a plan for me and everyone else. Its funny to sit back and realize that we don’t have control, and thank God for that because His plans are always so much greater. My husband and I are trying to get pregnant and I am(was) really feeling the pressure and fear that it just may not happened. BUT GOD. So thankful that we can walk without fear and run to Him. Thankful that His word and directions are true and today this helped remind me to let go of fear and walk in faith and speak life.

  5. Janet says:

    I was drawn to the verses that contrast walking in the spirit verse walking in the flesh. Those who walk in the flesh are not of God but those who walk in the spirit are children of God. We just looked at this struggle yesterday and how we all battle daily between doing what we don’t want to do and what we want to do. I made a list, flesh verses spirit and looked at how each one controls. The key is control. What controls me? There is a balance so to speak. We need to take care of our bodies and our lives but when the flesh overtakes the spirit leading, we begin to live only for ourselves neglecting Jesus calling to love others, to go. With the spirit leading and guiding we understand that by living by the spirit the flesh automatically gets taken care of. God created us, He desires us to look after and be accountable to what he has entrusted to us but it should not rule us. May I allow the spirit to rule, to guide me in all.

    1. valerie says:

      very well said janet!
      thank you for sharing!

    2. churchmouse says:

      Yes and amen!

    3. Emily B. says:

      I love this! If I’m living by the Spirit, my flesh will be just fine. Thank you for this reminder!

  6. Tina says:

    Coheirs with Christ…

    Okay I can get my head around being a child of God. I can almost get my head aronnd bieing an heir, but a coheir with Christ…?

    That’s a hard one to get my head around…
    Verse 12 says ‘..we are debtors..’ that I understand, that i know, that, is truth to me… I am in debt up to my eyeballs and beyond to God.. I am in debt up to and beyond anything that I could ever ever pay back and yet..time and time again, grace, upon grace, upon grace, upon grace, upon grace, upon grace, that debt, huh, who am i kidding, those debts, those worldly debts, that would keep me from God and all He has for me… those debts..

    But God…
    As I have walked with Jesus, has allowed me to receive and be led by the Spirit of God, which in turn does not tie me to my debt, but rather to Him, the Father, who loves, and continues to love me through my mess ups, my disasters at life…He not only then ‘runs to me with His finest cloak..’, but I am adopted into His family… I would have been happy with that… a safe place to be..

    But God … goes further still, He doesn’t just adopt me and make me a daughter, He makes me an heir… All so overwhelming…
    But God…
    He doesn’t stop there, in making me a daughter, He makes me a coheir with His Son Jesus Christ. ‘One, whom I am not fit, even to hold His shoes’
    But God…
    But God…

    In absolute awe of our God for the love He shows, He gives.. He displays..

    Heart filled…

    Thank you Lord…♡
    Lisa. Sending both yourself and Missy a hug… because you make me smile… Thank you…xx

    A big shout out to all wrapped in Love and hugs..

  7. Christina says:

    “By sending his own Son…the righteous requirement of the law [is] fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. . . . If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. . . . 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!'” Romans 8:3-4, 11, 15

    I love that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled IN us…not “by” us, but BY the Spirit of Christ who dwells in us, and that this same Spirit gives life where death has previously reigned. I love being reminded of the FOCUS: what Christ has done for us and in us that we cannot do ourselves.

    That said, prayer is less about the words we speak, and more about the way we communicate with our Savior, who does in and through us what we cannot do for ourselves. Even though it’s an entertaining way of writing, I don’t think God is hanging on my narcissistic prayers. In fact, I think He rejects them. At some point in all parallels between our lives and God, the parallel breaks down, simply because He is God, and we are not.

    1. churchmouse says:

      Julia is 3 and her prayers must definitely are narcissistic. Her Mimi (that would be me) is also known to pray self – centered prayers. I believe my Abba Father does not reject these prayers. I think He leans in close. He loves to hear from His beloved children regardless of the type of prayer. Mimi has also shouted, cried and pleaded in prayer. Sometimes the prayers are long. Some are merely one word. Some are uttered in silence. What they all have in common is that they are heard. I agree Christina, that it is the communing with Him that is most important. I trust that He will take the narcissistic prayers at face value and draw me closer so that I might grow into “Thy will be done.”

      1. Christina says:

        I agree with you, Churchmouse! I believe God hears all of our prayers, and even often honors many prayers prayed in a way that are not necessarily centered on Him. I simply don’t believe He hangs on our self-centeredness like the sun rises and sets in us (as we are wont to do with our children and grandchildren.) I suppose I am referring more to the self-centered prayers of Christians who should be growing in our understanding of Him…. even though we will pray the selfish prayers now and then. In fact! I’ve been praying a somewhat selfish prayer lately, but it is always tempered with “know my heart and change it. Your will be done.” Thank you for your clarification!

  8. churchmouse says:

    “You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear…” Ah, to take this truth deep. When I feel myself fearing, I’m actually moving away from God, applying handcuffs He never intended for me. “Instead, you received the spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out ‘Abba, Father!'” When I turn my eyes from my hard circumstance to my Daddy God, there is nothing to fear. All that He has is mine because I am His beloved child. His heir. All of His strength, all of His power, all of His… is now mine. What is there to fear? Oh let us lean into our Father today and feel His warm embrace and His whisper in our ear, “You are loved. You are mine. Do not be afraid. I’ve got you.” Walk today fearless.

    1. Stacy says:

      Thank you for your insights. I always appreciate your thoughts.

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