Concentrated Mind

6/11/07 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I think things are starting to settle down at work and home, so I’ll be able to get back to concentrating my mind on regular posting again, whatever that is. With the vacation over the Memorial Day holiday and the week of catching up, I have had the opportunity to assess where I’m at and where I should be going.

To update those who may not know, my wife and I (along with our 9 y.o. son) are housing and taking (foster) care of a 4 y.o. boy and 3 y.o. girl. Several Wednesday’s ago the court case for their birth mother was heard and her parental rights were terminated. She still has a month to appeal, and she probably will, but for now her last visit with the children is scheduled this Wednesday.

While the girl is easy to love, the boy has been more of a challenge. Spending a week of vacation with him has helped us towards building a relationship, and it feels like he’s treating me more as a dad now than just another father figure. While there were some difficult times during the week vacation, as can be expected when you have 3 energetic kids in a small condo, the togetherness will hopefully bear fruit in the future.

It is frustrating that the adoption process is taking so long, but like the relationships we’re building it takes time. A part of me wants to get it done and over with now so we can really be a family, though I’ll have to put my trust in the Lord to see us through.

A sermon delivered by Philip Yancey on the Virgina Tech campus two weeks after the shooting got me thinking about where I’m headed. The four (actually three) questions that Yancey posed as he lay strapped on a body board after his own rescue from a rolled-vehicle accident have haunted me the past week.

Samuel Johnson said when a man is about to be hanged, “it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” When you’re strapped to a body board after a serious accident, it concentrates the mind. When you survive a massacre at Virginia Tech, it concentrates the mind. I realized how much of my life focused on trivial things. During those seven hours, I didn’t think about how many books I had sold or what kind of car I drove (it was being towed to a junkyard anyway). All that mattered boiled down to four questions. Whom do I love? Whom will I miss? What have I done with my life? And am I ready for what’s next? Ever since that day, I’ve tried to live with those questions at the forefront.

The first two questions could be combined, and they are easy to answer. It’s not too surprising, at my age, I’m stumbling over the third. You can tell you’re getting old when you linger over the obits in the paper and start to wonder what would be written down for you. Unless you’re one of those “prepared persons”, someone else will try to cover it from their memory rather than using autobiographical information.

If what’s next is death (the 4th question) then I’m ready in that I don’t fear death, and I trust the Lord to take care of those I leave behind. I am concerned about what’s next in my life. This broken-down body does not have much more physical strength, and I’m not sure how much someone will pay for my judgement that seems to get more cloudy over time.

Every day that goes by seems another lost opportunity to start a business I have been planning for some time. How much do I need to concentrate my mind in order to make it a reality? By taking in the two+one children God has blessed me and my wife with (expanding our family) I feel as if I’m serving the Lord. Will He go on to bless me with this business I want? Are there other parts of my life I need to get right?

I’m reminded of Ben Franklin’s admonition of “God helps those who help themselves”. No, it’s not scriptural, though I believe God expects us to put in some effort to secure the blessings He has for us. I also feel as if my credit card debt could hold back any type of business loans I would need to start things. Most importantly of all, I have not heard God’s voice telling me “OK” … yet. I pray it will be coming soon, so I need to be ready.

Are you ready for what’s next? Concentrate.

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