by Paul and Jacqueline Copan

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.  And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’  So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God” (Galatians 4:4-7).

Our family has had an early Christmas present this year.  On September 24, an eighteen-year-old named Chris joined us.  We have all but adopted him. So now we have children of these ages: 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20! Chris has been a source of joy as he’s quickly fit in as a son and brother and even grandson. Almost seamlessly, he’s become part of our family rhythm as he works toward the goals of completing high school and applying to college to study philosophy next year.  We have high hopes for this gifted young man, anticipating a bright future for him. 

Chris has been attending our church (Memorial Presbyterian in West Palm Beach), which hosts a monthly Socrates Café—an open philosophical forum for the West Palm community. During the discussion on the topic “Why Be an Atheist?”, one eloquent spokesman for the non-theistic side exchanged certain points with Paul—strongly enough for him to wonder if there was any residual tension.  After the meeting, he sought him out to make sure all was well. 

As the conversation shifted to the topic of each other’s families, Paul pointed out Chris to him, mentioning the story of how he had come to live with us as our sixth child.  Suddenly, tears came to this man’s eyes, and he unexpectedly stepped forward to hug and express appreciation for our taking Chris into our home and lives.  This man himself had had a difficult home life with alcoholic parents and bleak future prospects.  However, thanks to teachers and other kind people along the way, he was able move beyond his limitations, get a college education at Berkeley, and make his way in the world.  This encounter serves as a vivid reminder that our witness must transcend ideas and debate—as important as these are.  Submission to Christ’s Lordship means fully embracing practical, relational kingdom living.  We could never have guessed that our embrace of Chris would touch someone so deeply. Here we went to the Socrates Café, armed with persuasive ideas and convincing evidences, but a living example of concrete love was the primary thing that arrested this dissenter that afternoon.  Since that time, the relationship with him has grown into a warm, hearty friendship.  We are grateful for the reminder of God’s sovereignty in our conversations and relationships.

The Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us demonstrates how the relational God, in Christ, took concrete action on our behalf.  Because of Jesus, God has adopted us into his family and has given us a home.  He has taken us from bondage, fear, and futility into freedom, hope, security, and inheritance—a message that is good news indeed!

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    9 replies to "An Early Christmas Present"

    • EMBG

      Beautiful. thank you for sharing this story

    • Paul Copan

      Thanks, Leslie and EMBG!

    • Karen Y Harris

      This reminds me of the scripture:The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40
      We are reminded of the open arms of the Father, for turns no one away that calls on Him. Praise the Lord, for the seed has become a living being.
      Stay Blessed and walking in the Land of the Living

    • JM Smith

      Awesome! Thanks for being a living apologia.

    • Daniel James Levy

      Dr. Copan,
      I truly see Chris’ entrance into your family as divinely ordained of God. Thanks for taking in my good friend and blogging brother, Chris. You’re an example to us all!
      The Lord be with you and your family,

    • Paul Copan

      Thanks, Karen, JM, and Daniel. We appreciate your encouraging words.

      Daniel, it was great to meet you in Atlanta; we’re blessed to be family to your dear friend Chris. Come visit sometime!

      A blessed New Year to you all!

    • Susan

      Hi Paul and Jacqueline, I just spotted the link to this in my pre Christmas inbox! I’m amazed that you could squeeze one more into your busy household, but I’m sure that your love and attention are making a profound difference in this young man’s life. How great for him to even be ‘fathered’ and mentored by you as he too pursues philosophy! You two (you and your wife) are a very special unit, woking together for God’s glory. Thanks for sharing this story, and for reminding us that our witness is verified by our loving relationships.

    • Paul Copan

      Thanks for your encouraging words, Susan. Jacqueline and I—along with our biological children—have been blessed as well. The Lord’s grace has truly come to us *all* in this surprising, but delightful, new adventure in our family’s life!

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