One Sunday morning in April of 2012, my boys and I made our way into church and found a spot to sit. There were a few minutes before the service would start so I began to read the church newsletter full of important information. My eyes immediately drew to a section that said something similar to this; “An organization called “Healing the Children” is looking for a family to host a young child from Honduras who is scheduled to have surgery at Sanford. This family will have the responsibility of caring for this child after surgery and follow-up doctor appointments until she is able to return home to her parents. If you are interested, please contact the church office.”
Sitting here 4 years later, I am having trouble finding the right words to describe how I felt immediately after reading that. All I knew is that every portion of my being WANTED that child to come into our home. You see, for several months before that, my husband and I started to devote our time to really teaching our boys about “loving our neighbor”, especially the sick, poor, and homeless, and what that looks like. We began doing what we titled “Food Pantry Friday’s” at our house where after school every Friday, we would drive down to the food pantry and drop off groceries. We wanted to not only speak to our children about how to love our neighbor but we felt strongly on teaching by example and actually doing it – most importantly with having them participate. When I read that request in the church newsletter, I felt like this was just another way God was giving us an opportunity to “love our neighbor” and the thought of being able to care for and love on this child had my heart swelling.
Now, my mind knew that this would be a huge commitment for our family, especially with the amount of time my husband was gone at work and the level of care our younger son required with his own medical cares, but my heart strings were singing a different tune. I just felt so deeply that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me and asking this of us and I was all for it. Being a mother of a child with medical needs, I kept thinking about the parents who would have to send their young child to the USA and what they must be feeling. I knew that I had the love inside of me to care for this little girl as if she was my own, giving my best for her parents.
Being a little worried that my husband would not share my enthusiasm or see this opportunity the same way as I was, I honestly did try to talk myself out of it, but I just couldn’t. Thoughts such as this raced through my mind:
“God does not always lead us to places of comfort and this is not about us; it is about being obedient and listening to the Holy Spirit and trusting that God will use us to show His glory”…
“This would be a great way to offer our love, time, and talents other than just financially supporting something”…
“Since we can not travel with Noah, this would be a way to be on a “mission trip” without ever leaving our city”…
“Yes, my plate is full and I know that I will be taking most of the responsibility on this, but I trust that God will fully give us all that we need to do so. What better way to go into something than to fully lean on Him”…
“This could have a huge positive impact on my children and a wonderful way to be fully hands on”…
“We already know and have a relationship with the doctors at Sanford who would be caring for this child, plus we have the knowledge to be able to do so.”
My husband came home from work that night just in time for our family’s bedtime devotions. During his prayer, he specifically prayed asking God to show us ways on how we could love our neighbor. He didn’t know that as soon as the boys were in bed, that I was planning on sitting him down to talk about this. I took it as a good sign.
When I brought it up to him later that night, to my wonderful surprise, he didn’t freak out and listened nicely. He didn’t say much and just smiled… I took that as a good sign also.
The next morning, I pursued looking into this further. I called the church office and spoke to the contact person letting him know that I felt we were the family for this little girl and gave him all the reasoning’s going through my mind. He gave me the number of the woman who coordinates all of this in Michigan and I immediately called her as well. We spoke for a good 30 minutes; I gathered more information and details so I could speak with my husband about it again that night. My heart was now bursting with excitement, even more so than the night before and I was so certain this was meant to be.
I got the boys to bed that night and my husband returned home from work shortly after. He was barely inside of the door when, with the excitement pouring out of me, I once again brought up the little girl and this opportunity. Standing there in the kitchen, listening to what I was saying and realizing that I was actually serious about this, a look of pure shock came across his face. Very quickly I started to realize that this was not going to go the way I had hoped.
Just as he does best, my husband was thinking of this through his wonderfully logical mind while I admit, I was thinking with my wonderfully emotional one. He continued to explain his perspective on it all. I knew our plate was already full and it was like being stuffed after a huge meal and then asking for more. Why would we do that, right?
That evening, after our conversation, it was very quiet in our house and when we went to bed that night, instead of cuddling like we normally do, we laid with our backs to each other. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well that night. I knew that if my husband and I were not on the same page with an assignment like this, it would never go well. I started to pray and ask for wisdom because I could not figure out why God would allow the Holy Spirit to fill me so strongly on this when my husband felt the complete opposite. What lesson was there to learn? Was I to further pursue this and try to talk to him or let it go?
In the quiet of the night I prayed, “Lord, may your will be done and not my own.”
The next morning, I felt a calming in my heart and mind. I thought more about the logical points my husband made the night before and I knew I needed to show him respect. I began to resolve with the fact that this little girl might not be coming into our home and the overwhelming desire started to fade. I reminded myself that if this was meant to be then God would indeed work this out and I placed my full trust in that. I asked God to speak through my husband and quickly realized that He already was. I was reminded in that moment that I needed to submit to his leading and let love trump any further activity between us on this matter.
Within the following week, I found out that another family was chosen to care for this child and instead of feeling disappointed, I felt happy for her and knew this was how it was meant to be.
After meditating about all that transpired and how I felt, the one thing I was sure about is that when the opportunity presented itself, my heart was open and ready. Even though this assignment was not meant for us to fully carry out, I believe the assignment of the Lord testing my heart was. While it wasn’t working out as I had hoped, I believe wholeheartedly that my response is exactly what the Lord required of me.
And then, right after I felt peace about all that had taken place, the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart again. I felt certain that He was asking me of one more task in this situation, maybe the most important one of all – to love our neighbors by lifting them up in prayer.
My eyes filled with tears when I realized that my desire to help this little girl and to impact my children would still be fulfilled. What greater teaching and example could I make than to show them to lift others, even those we have never met, up in prayer?
So, with great responsibility, this is exactly the task that we, as a family, choose to do.
Such a simple, yet amazing gift and privilege we have in lifting others up in prayer.
4 thoughts on “The Greatest Gift”
Thank you so much, Julie! Right back at you! 🙂
Absolutely beautiful, Rachel. I love your heart and your writing.
Thanks, Dorothy! You are exactly right! How comforting to know however that even when an assignment that we would love to do is not for us, something that we can ALWAYS do, the most important thing, is to spend time in prayer.
OH Rachel, I so relate to you. I am impulsive and see all the wonderful possibilities and not the underlying tough details. I thank God that I have a husband who fills in the blanks when I want to dive right in like a bull n a China closet. Lately I have been trying to wait a few days to let the Holy Spirit simmer something in my soul so I can hear Him clearer. I find all kinds of wonderful ideas flying through my head, and I used to do them all…..to the detriment of my family.
I think of the hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” and the line, “our striving would be losing.” I am trying to see where God is taking me “from the jaws of distress to a spacious place, free from restriction.” Job 36:16
It is hard to find balance. It is hard to know which assignments are for us and which are not. God help us.