Delighting In God the Giver: Dan Cruver #T4ACon

Dan Cruver is the director of Together for Adoption and provides thought-leadership on the theology of adoption as a team member of ABBA Fund. Before co-founding and directing Together for Adoption, Dan was a college professor of Bible and Theology. He has also served as a pastor of family ministries. As one who has been adopted by God and has adopted two children, Dan founded Together for Adoption to equip churches and educate Christians theologically about orphan care and horizontal adoption. Dan regularly writes and speaks about the Gospel and its implications for solutions to the global orphan crisis. He is the editor and primary author of Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father, wrote the foreword to Heirs with Christ: The Puritans on Adoption by Dr. Joel Beeke and is a regular contributor to The Gospel Coalition Blog.


I want to put you in the real world. So here’s the question: What in the world are you talking about?

…All the deadlines, because of the very bad economy, because of the very difficult family situations seem like the real world and the reality of our adoption through Jesus Christ feels like a very distant country.

What we are doing at this conference and what we are doing right now is we are reminding ourselves what the real world is. God’s story, massive, cosmic story of adoption IS the real world. That is the story that Psalm 36 is going to usher us into:

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good. He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil.

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.

Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart! Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away. There the evildoers lie fallen; they are thrust down, unable to rise.

A British theologian named Mike Reeves in a recent sermon asks this question—what does God want from you? And I’m going to apply this context and ask what does God want from us, primarily thinking about orphan care and adoption. [quotes Psalm 82:3, Isaiah 1:23, James 1:26-27]

So what is it that God really wants from us? Are these verses our answer? What about these ones:

Matthew 2:27—what does God really want? He wants us to love him with all that we are. Psalm 126—He wants from us praise and adoration for he is good. And I could go on and on…

But I have a confession to make: I’ve set you up intentionally. That is a trick question. What does God really want from you? The question is not what does God want from us. The question is, “Who is God?”

Psalm 36:9—”For with you is the fountain of life. In your light do we see light.”

Does a fountain want anything from you?

The very nature of a fountain is that it gives and it never, NEVER stops giving. . . . The question is Who is God—and He is an eternal fountain. And he did not become a fountain when the world was created. This is the God who is fundamentally, intrinsically a giver. That’s what he is—he gives!

We can’t live the Christian life well if we think of God as primarily wanting from us.

In the context of caring for the orphan: To serve the orphan well, we must think of God, experience God, primarily as Giver.

Now why this Psalm at a conference on adoption and orphan care?

Four reasons:

  1. There is a strong connection to what the Scriptures call Sonship. Sonship has to do with the idea that we all gain the rights and privileges of the Son.
  2. Drinking from the lavish light of the fountain of God’s love for us empowers us to live on the razor-sharp edge of our world’s profound brokenness.
  3. Orphans need Christians who feast on the abundance of God’s house and drink from the river of God’s delight
  4. Christians who experience God as Giver are much better equipped to love the child who comes from or lives in the hard place

Two questions:

  1. Who is this God who takes?
  2. Who is this God who gives?

We learn about this God who takes in vv. 1-4. Here David is describing the wicked person—and he’s referring to someone living within the covenant community. And yet, this is how their minds operate. They are not serving a God who gives—they are serving a God who takes. These gods are needy. They make demands. They demand that you serve the God of comfort, or you serve the God of power… and they cannot talk, they demand everything from you. And those who make those gods become like them. This person serves this god and becomes one who takes.

You’d think that David would go from this person who takes and this god who takes and go to the person who gives. But he doesn’t do that—he goes to the God who gives.

Psalm 36:8—there’s one word in this verse, and it’s a wormhole—it takes you into a world that is bigger and richer than anything we can imagine. It transports us into what happens to be the real world. It’s the word “delight”. The Hebrew word—“Edens.” “Those who take refuge in the shadow of his wings,” he causes them to drink from the river of his “Edens”.

And what comes screaming out of this is The Fall.

Eden was the place where God created his son (small “s”) where they were supposed to enjoy eternal communion with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. God is saying that this man, this woman were to live in this love that is greater than Niagara Falls… and then you have the Fall. And there is a death sentence at the edge of Eden. An angel with a sword.

So we have a big problem here—how can David say that God can let us drink from the river of his Edens? If we try to get back in, we die. And if we die, we don’t drink. So what does David say?

The first part of verse 8: “They feast on the abundance of your house…” There was one place on earth where man could have communion with God—the Temple. That’s the house he’s talking about. But what happened there—blood had to be spilled! There is one place in heaven and on earth where God and man can meet—Jesus Christ, the God-man. Heaven and earth are brought together. In Jesus, we don’t just get Eden, we get Edens…

What we get in him, we get Eden on steroids.

God is the giver. And he has given us Jesus. In Jesus, God and man perfectly united. God is a Giver. And those who take refuge under the shadow of his wings, he gives them to feast on the abundance of his house and he causes them to drink of the river of his delights and you cannot begin to diminish the supply of his delight. All the millions and millions of people who by God’s grace have been brought to faith in Christ drink of the river of God’s delights and we can’t begin to diminish the supply of God’s delights because God is a giver!

When we think of God as one to whom we give, we end up living in a world that is not real. What orphans need is Christians who by the grace of God, by the Spirit, drink of the grace of God. That will motivate us, it will move us, to give because God is THE Great Giver.

God’s love come to us in Jesus extends to the heavens so that wherever you cry, “O wretched man that I am,” whenever you cry it, there is no far off country, no far off land where God’s giving does not supply every need you have in Christ Jesus. He is the giver. And it’s in him that we serve the orphan and the poor.

  • Daniel Lyle

    I was a student at one of the colleges Dan taught at.  I never had him for a class but I did hear him preach in chapel and enjoyed him greatly.  He was extremely well liked at the school and the student body was very sad to see him go.  Good post by the way.