God's Perfect Timing
Despite Our Delays
10 February 2016 | 1 Adar 5776
The thought followed me for months,
Send money to Mercy.
“What a good idea,” I said to myself. It started out as a quiet desire, and was something I saw as a good deed – one that would benefit Mercy and that would definitely make me feel good about my growing relationship with her.
Send money to Mercy.
This thought. It sporadically interjected itself into my intentions. It began to gain momentum. What had become a weekly reminder was now being heard in my heart daily.
Send money to Mercy.
This thought! I noticed that the more I delayed, the stronger the desire developed. It was no longer just a calm contemplation, but shifted into something I was supposed to do. It was now something I was being commanded to carry through. It grew - in aggression. Soon, the reminders came moment by moment, during pockets of mental downtime – while riding the subway, or walking from the subway to my job, or running in Central Park. I agreed with the agenda and vowed that I would send the money. But the snippets of my time so senselessly slipped away as I kept myself busy in the hustle and bustle of New York City life. Eventually, the thought became so burdensome that I was unable to function any longer until,
I stopped everything and attended to my duty. I sent the money. Finally, $185 was en route to the Pearl of Africa, to a little girl and her family in war-torn northern Uganda. My burden was lifted, and I knew I had done what God had been leading me to do. It wasn’t until several months later that I came to understand how impactful this action would be to Mercy and her family. However, at the time, I was just glad to be back to my normal routine, without interruption.
Mercy was my sponsored child through World Vision’s Gulu ADP Project. I selected Mercy because her profile listed writing as her preferred activity. She sounded like great pen pal material, and I was excited to get the relationship going. I remember the night I had the opportunity to sponsor Mercy. I was a recent graduate from Columbia University, and was attending an alumni event at my alma mater. At the conclusion of the event, a World Vision representative gave the usual spiel. As I listened and silently prayed about whether I should sponsor a child, a question came to mind, Why would you not? A question, yet it was the answer I needed.
Several months after sending the money to Mercy, I received a letter from my little friend. Her brutally honest correspondence opened my eyes to the systemic struggles, not only of her family, but also of an entire culture. Mercy informed me that her mother had given birth to their fourth child, of which Mercy was now the eldest sibling. This was surely good news! - or not. To my dismay, this new little one, who should have been bestowed as a blessing, was now deemed a burden, since her arrival meant that her mother had not yet borne a son. Four daughters. Consequently, the father left the family. Mercy’s mother was left alone as the sole caretaker of these four precious girls. Her God-given gift was now guised with guilt.
Two days after the birth of Mercy’s sister, the money I had sent arrived in their hands. Just in time – God’s perfect time. I paused to ponder, and it immediately became clear to me why that thought had followed me as it did, with such passionate progression. Unbeknownst to me, I had been chosen as the one to intercede for this humble little family 9,000 miles away. At the time, I had no idea.
I continued to read Mercy’s letter. They named her Jessica! Jessica – the most popular American girls’ name for three consecutive decades, now bequeathed upon a little Acholi girl in the foothills of Africa. I imagined, that when asked about how she came to have such a westernized name, she would share the story of how God shined His Face upon her, through the small deed of one Mzungu far away. To be a namesake – this was surely an unexpected blessing for me.
Yet, this blessing was twofold. The lesson I received was gilded with gold. For through this experience, my Heavenly Father taught me that despite our weaknesses, He still chooses to work with us to accomplish his agenda. In the midst of my imperfection, God revealed His perfect love, at the perfect time. My timing was not impeccable, but His was. He knew of my tendency to procrastinate, and worked around my flaw. This was God’s perfect Way, despite my delay.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
Neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."
What seemed like a random thought was not random at all. The miracle is that He allows us to be contributors toward His greater acts of compassion, even when we least expect.
Mercy and I wrote letters for five years, until the program ended. Fortunately, I was able to travel to northern Uganda, just south of the Sudanese border, to meet Mercy and her family.
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