As I am writing this blog, my wife Susan is in China. She’s there with our son-in-law and daughter and all four of their children to finalize the adoption of Maggie, a special needs two year old. They met our newest granddaughter a few days ago and she already owns their hearts! (Sadly, I had to cancel going due to some back problems ☹.)
Our new Chinese granddaughter, Maggie, with her father and brother.
“I don’t want to adopt”
The adoption journey in our family began about 30 years ago. One day my wife Susan told me she’d been praying about adopting a child. My knee-jerk reaction was, “I don’t want to adopt!”
We already had three biological children and that was perfect for me. Besides, I was going through chemotherapy at the time for cancer, with a very uncertain future. Adoption made no sense to me. But, there was another reason I resisted. I wasn’t sure I could love “someone else’s child.” I could imagine being kind to someone else’s child, providing them a home, or even giving money to an orphanage, but adopt? What if we never connected? I wasn’t ready.
But, my wife continued to pray and asked me to pray, so of course I was a dead duck! Slowly, God changed my heart and I said “yes.” Six months later my wife flew to Korea to pick up Betsy, a four-month-old angel and I fell in love with her!
Two years later, we adopted Tyler, also from Korea. Both are now 28 and 30, respectively. Then 20 years ago, Veti, a 15-year-old girl from Albania joined our family. She’s now married and they’re waiting for their first child from Columbia. So adoption is in our blood, not because I wanted it to be, but because God changed me.
Is adoption for everyone?
With all the “I died, went to heaven and back”, books and movies out today, it’s made me aware of just how little the average Christian knows what the Bible teaches about what happens one minute after people die.
I’ve also found that most young people believe in heaven, but reject the idea of hell except for child murderers and Hitler. To them it’s inconsistent with the actions of a loving God. Perhaps you’ll find my explanation for the fate of those who have never heard the gospel, helpful for them as well.
So, I hope you’ll use this blog to share with your family or Bible study group this brief summary. Here’s my disclaimer; much of what I’ve written was gleaned from a wonderful book by Irwin Lutzer, One Minute After You Die. Lutzer is the Senior Pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.
One of the most difficult things to talk about with our children, friends or those we mentor is personal sin – our own struggle with it and what we’ve done well and what we’ve done poorly to deal with it.
I’ve always had a great relationship with our children. So when one of our daughters was uncharacteristically distant, I asked her if something was wrong. “It’s nothing.” (It’s always nothing!)
Days later she came to me and shared something she’d done for which she was ashamed. Ironically, I knew or strongly suspected what the problem was. In any case, the important thing was that she understood what she had done, was sorry for it and had made some good decisions to lessen the likelihood this would ever happen again. Seeing how terribly sad she was I just held her, told her I loved her and how honored I was that she had come to me.
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:8-9
Confession is good, but repentance is better
It wasn’t only her tearful confession that moved me; it was the safeguards she put in place to keep from temptation in the future, which impressed me even more. She understood intuitively that while confession is good for the soul, repentance is far better. Repentance is more than remorse. It’s disgust, even anger over our sin and a whole-hearted desire to never do that sin again. If we tell God we’re sorry, then he expects us to live differently if we truly are.
I was on vacation in Florida a number of years ago and I was invited to attend a men’s study on The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren. (A wonderful book, by the way.) I knew a few of the guys in the study. They were good men – successful in life, faithfully serving on boards of ministries and in their churches – standard issue Christians. So, I drove over to this gated development – Boca Del Boca or some such name, gave the guard mine and went in.
Ten or twelve tanned men sat around a long table and the lesson that day was on the chapter, Sharing Your Life’s Message, essentially sharing what Jesus taught you, with others. They had asked me to lead so I jumped right in with this question, “How many of you are meeting with a man or two or a couple and teaching them what God has taught you?” The only sound in that room right then was the hum of the air conditioning and sipping of coffee. You’d have thought I’d asked them to pull down their pants.
Finally, one brave soul cleared his throat and said, “Well, we attend this study every week.” “That’s great,” I said. “Studies like this prepare us for ministry, but to whom are you passing on what it means to actually live like Jesus?” I never got invited back.