Yesterday, I shared with you the big news about how the Shull family is expanding by one girl. Sweet Ashby London will be adopted from another country and a part of our family forever. Today, I’m going to post Andrew’s part of the testimony. God did not work on our hearts at the same time or the same way. We thought it was really important for you to hear both sides of our story. This is Andrew’s…
About three years ago, Shay brought up the whole thought of adoption. One Sunday, I was serving in the Children’s building (the reason why I never heard the sermon) at our church and she attended the service. That Sunday, our former pastor Jeff Warren spoke on the orphans in the world. With over 150 million orphans in the world, Jeff’s sermon was about how our generation has been called to action. James 1:27 says “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” Has God called all of us to adopt? No. Just like he calls some to sell all they have and become missionaries in Asia, he has called some to stay here and fight the fight. God calls each of us to different mission fields and acts of service. On that Sunday, Shay had begun to hear God’s calling for our family.
After Shay and I got home that day, Shay mentioned how the message really moved her. She didn’t say anything about wanting to adopt in that moment, but over the course of the next few months, I could tell God was working on her. She ultimately told me that she felt like she had a desire to eventually adopt. I can imagine most of you think that I was totally open to the idea. Well surprise, surprise. I was 100% against it. Not because I didn’t think it was an awesome calling, but God had not yet called me at that point. I had no desire, not even a shred of conviction. Shay kept mentioning it over the course of the next 6 months and it became a major argument in our relationship. She felt so strongly and I had no feeling at all. So here is what we did. I told Shay that I would spend the next year in prayer about it and at the end of that year, I would let her know if God had changed my heart or if I still didn’t feel called.
So, I began praying.
I knew that if this was something God wanted me to do, He had some major work to accomplish. I was open to whatever God chose. About 6 months after I began searching God on the issue, I finally was able to diagnose one of my major problems. At that time, I viewed my love for my kids as 100%. Almost like I gave Kensington 50% and Smith 50%. My very limited understanding wouldn’t allow me move past this problem. I kept thinking, “I don’t have any more love to share”, and then God reminded me that the kind of love we should have for our children and orphans is the same He demonstrated for us on the cross. He daily gives each of us 100% of His love. I can give Smith 100%, Kensington 100%. Even though my time might be split, I can still give each of my kids the love they deserve. God had just laid the foundation.
Anyone who really knows me, knows that behind God and Shay, my kids follow right after in priorities. I tend to even put my family over things like sleep. If I have to work, I sometimes go back late at night, or usually every Saturday morning, I am at the office at 5:30 am because I don’t want to cut into family time doing the bookkeeping for my business. My love for my kids is deep.
One night (almost a year from our commitment to prayer), Shay and I were driving home from being out. With the kids in the backseat, we stopped at the grocery store so she could run in and grab a few things. As I waited for her, I noticed a man coming out of the store with his three daughters. Two were around 12 years old and one was around 6. The 6 year old had apparently been acting up, but instead of reacting in a way to discipline his daughter the man totally demeaned her in front of the store. So much so that her shoulders sagged her head dropped and she began to cry. Then instead of giving her a hug, the man turned with his other two daughters and began to walk away. God used this like a lightning bolt in my life. He had already shown me that I could love a third child. The fact that if Shay told me she was pregnant, I would have been excited. But right then and there, I began to cry. I realized that God had given me the ability to be a great dad. Not that I am perfect, nor that I don’t/will make mistakes, but I have and overwhelming desire to be a dad. What transpired in my mind that night was that God was telling me “Andrew, you think this is bad, there are boys and girls in the world who get treated much worse than this”. I realized at that moment that God was telling me something. He had over that 12 months, given me the desire that 12 months earlier, I had not had.
So, I wanted to break the news to Shay in the next few weeks. At that moment, we just began praying about the when. We were just open to the idea, and even though we said yes, we knew that ultimately God still might have other plans. So for about 6 months, we said yes and then waited.
About 2 months ago I began reading a book called Not a Fan. I have said it before, but I have read all of about .5 books since I was in college, and even then I never really read. But this book changed my life…especially, one part in particular. In Chapter 3, Dr. Rich Edwards tells his testimony of how God changed his life.
On February 10, 2006, I was in control of my life and I liked the direction things were going. I had a thriving chiropractic practice, two sons, and a devoted wife. On February 11, everything changed. I was heading out to my hunting cabin where I planned to meet up with friends and hunt wild boar. As I drove along I could see the effects from the severe drought we had been experiencing. Everything seemed to have dried up and died.
By the time I reached the road heading to the cabin, it was dark. As I turned, I missed the road and ended up in five feet of thick brush. I tried to free my truck by putting it in forward , then reverse repeatedly. The friction from that somehow ignited the brush. Within seconds the truck was a large torch. I reached for the door handle to escape but the electrical system burned out and I was locked inside. Seconds later the windows exploded. I don’t really know what happened after that, and I have no idea how I got out of the truck. The next thing I remember is walking down the road to the cabin telling myself over and over, “Don’t stop. Keep going.”
When I reached the cabin, my friends thought I was wearing some kind of three dimensional leafy outfit, but it wasn’t camouflage. It was shredded, charred skin. A mediflight helicopter took me to a burn unit where I was told I wouldn’t have much of a face left and that I would probably lose my sight as well as the use of my hands.
God put an absolute halt on my life. I was so busy being so successful; I was on such a fast track, that God was a part of my life but he was not the most important part. He was not on the throne of my heart or at the center of my universe. I was at the center. I don’t believe God caused the fire, but I believe God allowed it because he wanted to get my attention.
That was the part of the story where I stopped and woke up. I felt as though God wanted my attention and I felt all of the sudden like he was wanting me to act on the adoption. I have been so blessed in so many areas of my life. My family, my wife, my business, our wonderful community, …etc. There have been things that have happened in our lives that the only explanation is God. People ask how did that happen and all I can ever say is that God did it. What I sensed was God saying, “Andrew you are at a crossroads. You can sit on your heels for the next few years being comfortable (two kids, nice home, great business, 1 dog)and like Rich, I can grab your attention. Or you act on the adoption and get going.”
So, I did what any normal Christian would do. I didn’t do ANYTHING but told myself I would pray about it a little longer and tell Shay at the right time. God had other plans. Later that afternoon when I got back in the office, I was making sales calls and something happened I will never forget. God wanted my attention, he wanted me to get going. Go back to the story of Rich and his truck being fully engulfed in flames. That must have been a horrific sight. Then it happened… when I looked out my office to the parking lot 75 yards across the street, there was a pickup that had caught on fire and like Rich’s truck, was fully engulfed in flames. No one was inside thankfully, but needless to say God got my attention. In 32 years I have never witness God moving like this. After seeing this, I sat Shay down, told her what had happened and we started our adoption journey.
So I ask each of you readers, what is God calling you to do today? Could you be the one to step out on faith and adopt, go on a short term mission, go on an international mission trip, or just walk across the street and invite a neighbor to church? God wants your attention. Need a plan? Start by reading Not a Fan by Kyle Idelman.