Several weeks ago in the span of 24 hours I saw this name three times. I had never seen it before, but something inside me knew it must have a Biblical reference. I asked my more biblically literate friends to help me better understand its meaning. The overwhelming response...to pause and reflect. I laughed. Of course that's what it means, I thought to myself. God has been trying to tell me to do that for awhile now. I'm just not always the best listener. But He got my attention this time.
One of my "Selah's" was this beautiful child:
(photo courtesy of New Day South Facebook page)
A fellow orphan advocate at Wonderful Waiting Kids posted about this little girl in China who was in dire need of sponsorship to assist with daily care and a medically fragile heart condition that would require surgery. Her sponsorship is part of a new joint partnership between Lifeline Children's Services and New Day South Foster Home under Lifeline's ministry (un)Adopted.
...and I was immediately captivated.
There was no pausing.
There was no reflecting.
There was only answering: YES! We will sponsor her!
I immediately set the plans in motion to become a monthly sponsor of Selah's. But God had much bigger plans. I just needed to pause.
The weekend after setting up our sponsorship we were standing in church during worship service. In the peaceful energy of the second song, and out of nowhere, I suddenly had a thought. But I have to back up in my story before I can share what that thought was.
A couple of months ago our church posted mission trip opportunities. Going on a mission trip is something I've long wanted to do and after careful consideration and consultation with friends and my husband I eagerly decided to apply to join a group headed to Bogota, Columbia later this year. My awesome hubby was so supportive, promising that we would financially find a way to make it happen. But I knew to make the trip all it should be that I needed to earn the money myself. So I set out to pick up as many sub opportunities at my kids school as I possibly could...and it was working! In just a couple of months I was able to earn almost half of the funds needed for my mission trip. I was so excited! I was really going to make this happen. I was going to be able to go and be the hands and feet of Jesus for a small orphanage filled with special needs children in Columbia. This will be such a great experience, I thought.
Fast forward to that day a few weeks ago, standing in church, and that thought I had mentioned. Remember, it had just been a few days earlier that the sweet face of Selah had splashed across my computer screen. The thought I had, standing there in the worship service? Donate all the money you've raised for the mission trip to Selah's surgery fund.
SAY WHAT?! This time I implemented the "pause and reflect" strategy. That's interesting. I'll think about that for a couple of weeks, were the next thoughts to come to mind. Guessing by the next emotions that overcame me, I gathered that this was not the time for pausing and reflecting. It was as if I was punched in the gut. I had to catch my breath. God wanted me to wrestle this out now. So after church I shared my experience with my husband during the drive home. I genuinely wanted his help. This was, after all, a big decision.
His response was quick, but thoughtful, and it solidified the decision I knew I needed to make:
"You have shown me pictures of many children, but none of them have stuck with me like this one. I think about her a lot and I look forward to hearing updates. I can't explain it. Going to Columbia on this mission trip is great, and for nine days you can help make a difference to those children. OR, you could donate the money you would have spent on the trip and potentially change the course of a child's life forever. I don't see what decision there is to make."
And my husband was right. Somewhere inside me the experience of going on a mission trip was a selfish one. It was as much about my experience, as it was about giving back. But now, staring me in the face, was this child and I could not get her out of my mind. My world and my heart turned upside down and it was all about HER.
The next day I gave it all away.
All the money I had saved and then some in the hopes that this little girl would be able to get the life saving heart surgery she so desperately needs.
The only difficult task left was to break the news to the mission trip leaders that I was going to have to back out of the trip now that I had re-allocated the funds. A couple of days after my church "experience" I finally touched base with my friend, whose husband was coordinating the trip. I shared with her my story, apologized for not fulfilling my commitment to the group, and hoped they would understand.
Her response was not expected.
"He [her husband] has felt uneasy about this trip since it was planned, and he has never been able to pinpoint why. Shannon, you are the only person who applied for the trip, and he can't take just you. He was going to have to make the decision to cancel the trip TODAY and he was so worried that you would be disappointed."
FOLKS, we serve the most amazing God! He calls us into impossible situations and He finds the way to equip us. Do not EVER underestimate the plans He has on your life! But remember, sometimes, in order to truly hear where He is calling us to go, we must remember to pause and reflect.
UPDATE ON SELAH:
(photo courtesy of New Day South Facebook page)
Unfortunately during Selah's pre-surgical testing it was found that her heart condition
was more complex than originally known. She currently remains under
the care of New Day South Foster Home while doctors decide on the best course
of action for her heart.
Lifeline and New Day are trying to raise $10,000
to pay for Selah's heart surgery.
I love this child and want to know that she has the hope of a bright future.
If you would like to help sponsor this precious child, please contact
Katie Beaton at Katie.firstname.lastname@example.org.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
to give you hope and a future.
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
~ Jeremiah 29:11-13