- Sonya Leigh Anderson
I can’t believe I haven’t seen this before. Seriously, why it this just now dawning on me? It’s almost embarrassing. Writing about something so elementary, wondering if I’m the only kid in the classroom who’s just catching on.
It happened on our way from LAX to our Airbnb in Newport Beach. Driving through uncharacteristic California rain, squeak-squish of wipers in a mini-van ripe with a previous passenger’s lingering pot smoke. We’d opted for a “surprise car” from a best-deal rental—resulting in a couple of unexpected hours spent navigating our way to a place that (surprise!) had no airport shuttle, and finally to a waiting area maddeningly packed with a couple dozen weary travelers ahead of us in line. Practical reminder that the best deals often are NOT.
None of which is the point of this post. The point is a single line from a familiar song playing almost unnoticed in that rental van.
It might have flown under my radar entirely if not for the conversation still percolating in my subconscious from our previous evening’s neighborhood Bible study. Ephesians. Third chapter.
Week three of a Bible study with three empty-nest married couples—all of us varying degrees of new to our stretch of lakeshore—church friends who’ve know each other just shy of an eternal minute. Love already deep as family.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name…(vv. 14-15)
And this particular stretch of scripture—memorized and quoted, buried deep in our hearts—is like family, too.
We read it out loud Monday evening, and together Kyle and I tag-team shared the story of this Ephesians passage—how the reference to these verses has been etched in silver and given as gifts to Anderson sons.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith (vv. 16-17a).
Empty nest parents talked about young adult offspring and the challenges they face when it comes to faith and a big-C Church overwhelmingly fractured by so much division.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (vv. 17b-19).
I wondered out loud if the secret sauce to all of our splintering might be a family bonded by roots of love. To know this love that surpasses knowledge…
These were the thoughts still percolating the very next evening as we made our way through LA traffic in a river of rain. And out of the blue I heard it. The lyrics. So familiar I almost ignored them:
“I’ve been born again into a family; I am a child of God.”
Born again…into a family.
Born Again. Perhaps I’ve simply become numb to the phrase from a lifetime of overuse. Or maybe I’ve assumed it meant something overly simplistic. When maybe all along it’s the key to everything Jesus talked about.
Earlier that morning, before our flight, Kyle and I sat near a precious little family at the Airport Caribou. Two small kids drank chocolate milk while their parents offered bites of their breakfast sandwiches. I tried not to eavesdrop. But to no avail. I’d seen the family earlier at bag check among a crowd of well-wishers, a conspicuous gathering due to the long skirts and head coverings of all of the women. Moments later, drinking our lattes, Kyle and I managed to chitchat our way into more information. They were missionaries on their way to Guatemala.
Born again into a family…
I was born once from my mother’s womb and into a family that would eventually include four siblings and a passel of cousins. And then I was born a second time by some mystery of water and Spirit and into the unfathomable family of the children of God.
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” (John 3:4)
This Nicodemus mystery still remains a bit of a conundrum for God’s children today. How…and to what…are we born again?
My biological family tree has roots and branches connecting me to people I’ve never even met. I am related to folks as different from me as oil and water. And yet, we share blood.
And there’s another tree, too. A family tree so diverse and massive it’s hard to imagine. A tree with roots growing wide and deep. Rooted and established in love. And blood.
From my mother's womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I've been born again
Into Your family
Your blood flows through my veins
—No Longer Slaves by Bethel Music