Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In His Time

The song "In His Time" has meant a lot to Denise and I over the years.  For those of you who do not know the song, here are the simple words:

In His time, in His time,
He makes all things beautiful in His time.
Lord, please show me every day,
As You’re teaching me Your way,
That You do just what You say, in Your time.

In Your time, in Your time,
You make all things beautiful in Your time.
Lord, my life to You I bring,
May each song I have to sing,
Be to You a lovely thing, in Your time.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 is where part of this idea comes from. The King James Version says "He hath made every thing beautiful in his time", while the New Living Translation reads "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time." The first eight verses in this chapter remind us that there is a season for everything.

As we waited for God to bless our family with children, it was only for a season.  God blessed us with two beautiful daughters in His time.  As we prepared to move to Ukraine and waited to sell our house, it was all in God's hands and took place in His time.  We have more examples, but this is only the foundation for the story that follows.

Looking back to 2008

This was the year of my third trip to Ukraine.  It was a great blessing for me to have my wife come along with me (her first time) that November.  It was the first time we had part of a team ministering in the orphanages.  One afternoon, I had some time where we were not doing any speaking, so I decided to go along with the orphanage group.  Honestly, I was afraid to spend time with the orphans because I would want to bring many of them home with me, and I knew at that point it was not possible.

We got into the rented marshrutka to go somewhere.  Unknown to me, our friend Max brought along a couple of teenaged orphans with him that day. When I introduced myself to one of them (in Russian), he responded (in English), "My name is Slavik."  This picture was taken that afternoon in the marshrutka.

I cannot describe what happened to me at that moment, but as a Father, my heart immediately loved him, and it broke my heart because I knew he would not be able to be part of our family.  I only spent a little time with him that afternoon, but that does not mean that I forgot him.  I have never forgotten him.

Jump to 2011

We lived here for more than six months before I asked Max how Slavik was doing.  I was glad to learn that he was doing well.  We lived here for almost a year before I saw Slavik for the first time since 2008.  One day we went to a local pizza place for lunch.  We saw Max and some of his boys there, including Slavik.  He and I spoke little, but I enjoyed that meeting and it confirmed that my Father's heart had not changed.

In June, when a team from our home church was here and doing a day camp at one of the boarding schools here, Slavik was helping there one of the days.  Again, he and I had only a little interaction that day.  I wanted to be a friend to him, if possible, but I was not sure how.  I did not know if he wanted to be my friend.  I told Max that sometime I wanted to get together with him, but left it at that.  Slavik does not come to church very often, but he was there a few weeks ago.  After church, I was greeted with a big hug when his friends just gave me a handshake.  I thought that was interesting.

On Monday July 4th, Denise, Hope, and I walked to the church cafe to get some ice cream and to see who was there to visit or to play ping pong.  Slavik and one of his friends were there, so we sat and visited for a while.  He does not know much English, but his friend does, so that helped some when we were struggling to communicate.  I asked him if he would like to come to our place sometime and he said he would.

That Wednesday, Slavik came over in the late morning.  We played some Wii, had lunch, and went to the gym together.  He liked it so much and said that he wanted to come to the gym with me every time.  That works just fine for me (though I made sure to tell myself that it may or may not happen).  He had supper with us and we played some more Wii.  I went to help him do something, but it was too late, so we went to his apartment instead.  His girlfriend and her friend were spending the night at his place, so he asked if he could spend the night at our apartment.  I was definitely willing to help him out because he was making the right choice by not staying there with them.  This picture was taken that evening.

On Friday night, Slavik came over for homemade pizza (he loves Denise's cooking).  He was later than planned because he was helping Max with some ministry activities that day, so I texted him and said "Mama wants to know how long until you get here."  He responded "Tell Mama 30 minutes."  After supper, we watched a movie together, at his request.

He was busy all weekend, but he hoped to come over on Monday because we were leaving for Simferopol that evening.  That did not work, but he called about 6 PM, after we were on the train and had started our journey, to apologize for not being able to come see us before we left.  Not a big deal, really.  Later that evening, I sent him a text basically to say hi and to let him know we'll see him when we get back.

Just a little bit later, I was totally surprised by the text message I received from Slavik.  It said, "Papa.  I love you.  Thank you for everything.  I miss you."  I was just about in tears.  Even though he is a young man now, he felt the same way for me as I did for him.  And I had not said anything to him about how I felt, but I think he was responding to the love that he felt, even if it was not spoken.  I also made sure that I told him, when I called several times while we were gone, that I loved and missed him, too.  He was anxious for me to come back home.

On Sunday afternoon, when we were about an hour away, I called Slavik to let him know and he sounded excited.  Once we got home and I called, he was very excited and was over here in less than 45 minutes.  I asked him why he missed me.  He responded, "because I love you" and gave me a big hug.  When I asked him why he loved me, he told me that he had not had a dad since he was 7.  I shared with him about how I felt three years ago.  He spent the evening with us and our guest, Esther, and we had a good time playing Wii, eating supper, and watching a movie together.  Both Laura and Hope get along well with him, so that is an added bonus.

While Slavik may not officially be "our" son, it is going to be a blessing to have him be part of our family.  I believe that God has plans for his life (just like he has plans for you and for me), and that is part of why he gave me that love for him nearly three years ago.  It is amazing to see God at work in our lives and in the lives of people around us.

God loves you with an everlasting love.  The Father's heart longs to have a relationship with you.  Have you responded to him by saying "yes"?  He is the only one who can make your life beautiful.

Maybe you are in a season of difficulty.  Remember, God makes all things beautiful in His, and its own, time.  Trust Him and He will bring you through this season to a new season.  He is always faithful.  And many times he surprises us.  I know I have been very surprised as I been part of this saga.  What a joy to know that we are where we belong so that we can be a blessing to others.  I need to keep that in mind as I go through life.  No matter what I am going through or doing, am I a blessing to others?


Darlene Joy Koop said...

What a beautiful story, Phil.
I believe in God's eyes, you are a father to Slavik, and that is a precious gift for both of you.

May God continue to bless you and your family as you give of yourselves to Him.

It's encouraging to me, for I'm learning to trust God as I have to wait for Him to reveal the beautiful plans He has for my life.

Love and prayers, Darlene Koop

Susan A. Reed said...

He is one of the reasons you are there-he needed you and you needed him! Isn't that just like Jesus?
Love you-Sus sue

Pamela Stangland said...

God is awesome :). I remember you talking about him after that trip. I am so glad you now have a chance for a relationship! A son is good for you :). There were a couple girls when I was there last year I felt that way about & would love to have taken them home. I have their picture up so I am reminded to pray for them.

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