“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
These were the words God spoke to Samuel, when He sent him to the house of Jesse to anoint the next king after Saul. God passed over 7 of Jesse’s sons—who looked like they could have been king material—and said that Jesse’s youngest son David was the one. He had to be sent for, because he was out, tending the family’s sheep. David. Not chosen because of his outward appearance, but because he had a heart after God’s own heart.
David later became best friends with Saul’s son Jonathan, and made a covenant with him that extended into their future generations. Jonathan requested, “But show me unfailing kindness like that of the Lord as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family—not even when the Lord has cut off everyone of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.” (1 Samuel 20:14-15)
David was faithful to this covenant with his best friend. After Saul and Jonathan were both killed in battle, and David was crowned King of Israel, he asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1) And Mephibosheth—crippled in both feet—was brought to the king’s palace. And made a prince.
I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that God used the story of David and Mephibosheth to change my heart about adoption back in January of 2007, when we began our adoption journey. After 6 plus years of waiting, in July of 2013, we found out about Ding Yi Fan (David) and Hua Ming An (Daniel)—boys who both have crippled feet.
We’ve been talking about David’s feet a lot recently because he started going to a local Chinese school in 2nd grade this fall. And the kids at school have been making fun of how he walks. As he’s been dealing with a lot of teasing, we can see that he’s fallen back on some of the survival skills that he learned during his almost 9 years at the orphanage and gotten into conflicts—doing and saying bad things to others when he’s treated badly.
We’ve been encouraged though that he’s expressed a desire to make things right, and has prayed that God would help him to forgive those kids who have been mean to him. That God would help him to improve his relationships at school. That God would help him to return evil with good. And while we don’t always have a clear picture of what’s happening at school, we believe that God has been helping him in these areas.
Yesterday he told me that he didn’t feel like the “new kid in the class” anymore. He feels like his relationships overall have gotten better. He likes those kids who don’t stare at him and imitate his turned-in club feet. He said when other kids make fun of him, he sometimes tells them, “You shouldn’t laugh at me. You could have been born with feet like this too.”
David has asked us how long he will walk the way he does. And if his birth parents had feet that turn in like his. The specialists, when we were back in the US, told us there was nothing that could be done for him at this point. Their policy is to not do surgery unless medically necessary—because it would involve breaking and resetting the bones of both of his lower legs. No surgery just for appearance sake.
We’ve talked with David about the man born blind, about whom Jesus said “this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (John 9:3). We’ve talked about how God can use bad things and difficult things for our good. Recently we’ve been listening a lot to one of Joshua and Jordan’s favorite songs “Beautiful Things.” It’s become one of David’s favorites too.
He makes beautiful things out of the dust.
He makes beautiful things out of us.
This past year we’ve seen changes in David’s life. God has begun a work in him that we believe He will carry on to completion. (Philippians 1:6)
He is giving our David Jonathan a heart after God’s own heart. Just like King David. And making beautiful things out of his life.