not an option.

My best friend recently bought me a book she had been trying to get me to read for a while now.  It’s called “Kisses from Katie” and it’s the story of an 18 year old girl that graduated high school, moved to Uganda, and adopted 14 kids.  All by herself.  All because God told her to.

We agreed on reading a chapter a day and then discussing it over Voxer.  I read the first chapter, cried my eyes out, and decided I had to share my reactions here.  So for the next couple of weeks I will be blogging about this book, one chapter at a time.

Chapter 6: A change of heart

Quick Summary: Katie has a new understanding of who God is, what He cares for, and how He will use her as His servant.  As she pours over the Word she realizes that what she is doing – helping the poor children – it is not an option, it is a requirement.  She also realizes that, for her, adoption is not just a good deed – it is how God wants her to serve Him.  It is His command for her life.

My reaction:

“Disease is certainly not a sin.  And poverty is not a sin; it is a condition, a circumstance that allows God’s work to be displayed…I knew God wanted me to care for the poor…It had happened so naturally, I was simply caring for those around me out of an overflow of love for Christ and the love that He had lavished upon me.  I never thought I was doing anything different or unusual, just simply what He had asked…as I poured over His Word, I realized that what I was doing was not simply my choice – it was a requirement.”

Caring for the poor is a requirement.   I have been a Christian most of my life but I have only recently realized this truth.  The gospel is meant for the sick, for the lost, for the captives.  And yes, for me.  I am all of that – but I have been set free by this gospel, by the love of Christ.  And now it is my requirement to share that with the world.  To be a worker – to harvest the field.  Yes, to do this from an overflow of love for Christ, but not forgetting – this is what God has commanded me to do.  It’s not about whether you feel called to it or not.  You must help the poor, the widow, the orphans.

“Adoption is a redemptive response to tragedy that happens in this broken world.  And every single day, it is worth it, because adoption is God’s heart.  His Word says, ‘In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will’ (Eph 1:5).  He sets the lonely in families (see Psalm 68:6).  The first word that appears when I look up adoption in the dictionary is ‘acceptance’.  God accepts me, adores me even, just as I am.  And He wants me to accept those without families into my own.  Adoption is the reason I can come before God’s throne and beg Him for mercy, because He predestined me to be adopted as His child through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of His glorious grace…I adopt because God commands me to care for the orphans and the widows in their distress.  I adopt because Jesus says that to whom much has been given, much will be demanded (see Luke 12:48) and because whoever finds his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for His sake will find it (see Matt 10:39).”

I realize that helping the orphans doesn’t always mean adoption.  But we need to be open – what if God asks this of us?  Christ is radical.  When he walked the earth He dined with sinners, lepers, tax collectors, the Am Ha-Eretz (unclean) of the Jewish world.  If He calls us to love the untouchable, to love the unlovable…if He Himself adopts the untouchable and unlovable into His family, if He Himself has adopted us…is it so inconceivable that He would ask us to do the same?  I don’t believe that Katie is trying to say that everyone should adopt.  But I do believe that she didn’t see this as part of her life – but she said yes anyway.  Because God said this was His will for her.  As difficult as doing God’s will is – it is still so much easier than running from His will.  He who loses his life for His sake will find it after all.  But he who seeks first to find his life apart from God will lose it.  I need to be open.  I need to be willing.  I need to expect to be called to doing radical things.  For my radical God.

“My goofy, trash-loving children are constant reminders of God.  They look at things that I see as used, broken, and dirty and they see treasure.  Can you imagine?  God looks at everyone, broken, old, dirty, probably not a whole lot more exciting than an old toilet paper roll, and sees treasure.  Something He loves dearly, something He would die for.  Wow…Thank You that when I feel old and used-up and broken and no more exciting than a cardboard box.  You whisper that You love and value me, and that in Your eyes, I am shiny and new.”

Katie talks about how her daughters love to play with trash and not the actual toys she has given them.  Amazing how children so clearly reflect both a sinful heart and the heart of God.  Children can be selfish and cruel at times – and so unfiltered in their expression of these things.  But they can also reflect purity and innocence and a clearer understanding of who God is than most adults.  To be entranced by trash…to say, “yes, there is value here”.  That is how God sees us – he assigned us value, knowing full well that as sinners, we deserved death.  Even as we have now turned to Him we still fall.  We still succumb to our fleshly desires and emotions.  And even at our worst he sees us not as trash, but as treasure.  If only the story ended there!  But no, He goes further – He asks us too, to see through His eyes, and to see others as precious gold, diamonds, rubies, instead of filthy, unclean, and untouchable.

P.S.

I was finally able to start doing outreach at a children’s home :)  And now my small group is planning to do outreach (Habitat for Humanity, orphanages, etc) once a month!  Praise God for answered prayers!

Matthew 10 - 38-39

To learn more about Katie and her ministry you can check out Katie’s blog here.

fearless love.

My best friend recently bought me a book she had been trying to get me to read for a while now.  It’s called “Kisses from Katie” and it’s the story of an 18 year old girl that graduated high school, moved to Uganda, and adopted 14 kids.  All by herself.  All because God told her to.

We agreed on reading a chapter a day and then discussing it over Voxer.  I read the first chapter, cried my eyes out, and decided I had to share my reactions here.  So for the next couple of weeks I will be blogging about this book, one chapter at a time.

Chapter 5: “Can I call you Mommy?”

Quick Summary: This chapter details the beginnings of Katie’s new call – a “mommy”.  She talks about how she took in a trio of young girls and realized she could not just leave them at an orphanage.  From being a mother of 3, she is now known as a “mommy to many” – to her adopted daughters, to the kids that come to her home everyday to do schoolwork/have dinner/play, and to the 400 children in her community.

My reaction:

“At nine years old, Agnes had become the primary caregiver of her sisters, seven-year-old Mary and five-year-old Scovia.  Their father had died of AIDS and their mother had long since disappeared.  Their grandmother, who lived nearby, helped with what little she had, but often her own food was barely enough for herself.  Days consisted of digging in the fields for a little something to eat and walking miles to and from the nearest well with a large plastic jug to collect the day’s water.  Mary kept a neighbor’s baby and, in return, was provided with some food for herself.  Even little Scovia went to dig for hours in the field to find food, helped fetch water, washed clothes and cooked supper when Agnes had to stay late in the garden.  Like all little girls, their hearts held hopes and dreams of the future, but the hardships of everyday life kept them focused on one day, one experience, one moment at a time.”

This appalled me.  A mother leaving 3 defenseless little girls alone to raise themselves, clothe themselves, feed themselves.  A nine year old forced to dig in the fields for something to eat.  A seven year old having to babysit for a living.  A five year old made to cook and clean clothes and help dig in the field for food.  At these ages I was playing with Barbies and having birthday parties and snuggling up to my parents.  These little girls – well they didn’t have the chance to be little girls like I did.   These 3 girls were the first children Katie decided to adopt.  This started her on a new calling – the calling to be a “mother to many”.

I don’t think I can be a “mother to many”.  I’m not sure that I’m called to that particular lifestyle.  But, don’t I have a responsibility to the helpless and hurting?  Don’t I have a responsibility to love as Christ loved me?  Forget responsibility – don’t I have the desire to love the orphans, the poor, the lost children?  Perhaps I have not always had this desire to do so but slowly and surely it is being awakened in me.  I feel like someone who is seeing with new eyes.  To quote a Switchfoot song: “This is your life – are you who you want to be?”  The sad answer to that is NO.  This is not who I want to be.  I want to be like Christ.  I want to care.  I want to be fearless in love.

“They laugh hysterically when I cuddle them or kiss their foreheads, and it hurts my heart a bit that they find the fact that someone loves them so funny.  And that is the blessing God has given me in this house: I get to provide a home for children who are homeless, a safe haven for children who feel threatened, lost, and unwanted.  Most of all, I get to love children who don’t know love otherwise.  I get to accept them for who they are.  I get to present them with my love and then teach them of the Father’s extravagant love.”

I have said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m not trying to be the next Katie Davis.  It’s not about opening orphanages in Uganda, or about adopting 14 girls.  I just want to have what she has.  Fearless, beautiful love for others.  An overflow coming from our Father.  I want to extend myself for someone other than myself.  I find myself asking if this is what it means to love like Christ – and I already know the answer is Yes.

no such thing as "loved too much"

To learn more about Katie and her ministry you can check out Katie’s blog here.

being available.

My best friend recently bought me a book she had been trying to get me to read for a while now.  It’s called “Kisses from Katie” and it’s the story of an 18 year old girl that graduated high school, moved to Uganda, and adopted 14 kids.  All by herself.  All because God told her to.

We agreed on reading a chapter a day and then discussing it over Voxer.  I read the first chapter, cried my eyes out, and decided I had to share my reactions here.  So for the next couple of weeks I will be blogging about this book, one chapter at a time.

Chapter 4: Saying Yes

Quick Summary: Katie details the beginnings of her nonprofit organization.  She wasn’t qualified to start any sort of organization – she merely made herself available to God.  Within 3 months, her dream had become a full-fledged nonprofit organization that was sending over a 100 children to school, feeding them, offering medical assistance, and telling them of Christ’s love for them.

My reaction:

“I was in no way qualified, but I was available.  I have learned that something happens when one makes herself available to God: He starts moving in ways no one could imagine.  God began doing things in me, around me, and through me as I offered myself to Him.  I began each day saying ‘Okay, Lord, what would you have me do today?  Whom would you have me help today?’  And then I would allow Him to show me.  I would like to say that I had all kinds of great ideas about what I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it.  I would like to say my ministry was born out of a carefully thought-out plan.  These things simply aren’t true, though.  I was walking through life one moment at a time, blown away by what God could do through me if I simply said yes.  My heart was on fire with a passion to say yes to God’s every request – to do more to help the people around me.”

I am a reticent person.  I will offer a million reasons why it is safer to not reach out, or to merely donate money to people who are more “trained” to reach out to others.  I am Moses, bargaining with God to send someone else.  I am Jonah, running away from the mission God entrusts me with.  My sister however, is none of these people.  She has always been brave – fearless really.  And with a capacity to love and interact strangers that amazes and scares me in equal measures.  I remember her coming home to tell me how she met a young boy in the city park and upon starting a conversation with him realized he was a runaway who had been “recruited” into prostitution.  She helped him go home to his mother.  My sister is my secret hero.  But I don’t have to wish to be like her – I CAN be like her.  I can be the person that says yes and is available to God.  I can be fearless because I’m beginning to understand it’s not about how hard I try.  All I need to be is willing.

“God had promised Sarah and Abraham that they would be the parents of a great nation, yet at the age of sixty-five Sarah was still childless.  She was beginning to doubt.  Leaving behind her homeland, she and her husband moved hundreds of miles south to the land of Canaan, the place where god had told them He would fulfil His promise.  The land was full of God’s promises but barren of all things cherished and familiar.  Finally tired of waiting, Sarah tried to take matters into her own hands by letting her husband sleep with her servant, and though the outcome was a child, this was not the perfect child God had promised, the one who would make her the mother of a nation.  Years later, at the age of ninety, Sarah finally gave birth to her promised child. She called him Isaac, meaning ‘The Lord has filled me with laughter.’  Despite her frailties, little faith, and self-reliance, God accomplished His purpose – and Sarah was filled with joy.

I will doubt.  This is not a call to not doubting – let’s be honest, we will all doubt.  But thank God He is faithful when we are faithless.  Despite our frailties, our doubts, our lack of faith, our desire to control our own destinies and rely on our own strength, despite our humanness – God will accomplish His purpose.  I just don’t want to fight Him along the way.

2 Timothy 2:13 (NIV)

To learn more about Katie and her ministry you can check out Katie’s blog here.

Truth Thursdays 22: Happiness vs Joy vs Suffering

This blog entry is inspired by Ray Stedman’s sermon on Romans 5:3-10.  You can check out the link here.

joy

The Greek word for suffering defines it as a ‘tribulation’ or something that causes distress.  In Romans 5:3-5, Paul makes it clear that our response to suffering should be to rejoice.  This is backed up by other verses in the Bible:

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13, NIV)

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,” (James 1:2, NIV)

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12, NIV)

Joy is not simple stoicism/ hanging in there/ or enjoying the pain.  It is not pretending you’re happy.  Christianity is never fake.  Philip Yancey once wrote back to an email I sent him asking about disappointment and trusting God.  I have posted my email and his response below:

Dear Mr. Yancey,

I just needed to ask you a question that a friend and I have been arguing about for a while now. We were discussing disappointment and trusting God and my friend basically said that if you trust God or if you consult him on all areas of decision-making, it’s possible to never feel disappointed with the answers he gives you, because your trust is complete and whole in him. However, just from my experience I believe that its possible to be disappointed with God’s answer but to trust that his way is right and true and to obey despite your personal desires. Does that mean my trust in him is not complete? Because I occasionally still feel disappointment?

I know you’re a busy man and probably won’t have the time to respond to this but I hope you do. I have felt an enormous amount of condemnation regarding this and although I have read my Bible nothing has jumped out that has been a clear word on this. I’m not looking to be proven right. I just want to get some perspective from someone who seems to have more insight on this.

Thanks very much!

 Here is a portion of his reply:

It is my firm belief and personal experience that God does not want us to turn into automatons when we decide to follow him.  I believe God wants us to come to him with our whole heart, soul and mind, not leaving anything of ourselves stuffed in a closet or relegated to the back shelf.  Therefore, we will bring the struggles of our will vs. his will to the relationship with God, just as in any other relationship. I can think of numerous examples in the Bible where this was true, and the person involved was disappointed but chose to accept God’s will over his own.  Think of Paul and his thorn in the flesh.  Or of David, longing and pleading for his and Bathsheba’s son not to die.  Or Abraham and Sarah wanting a child before they were old and gray.  We can go on on and on with the examples of deferred gratification in favor of God’s best.  The best response to your question is to recommend the book of Psalms: it’s full of disappointment, even anger, yet has been the believers’ prayer book through the centuries.  That says it well, I think.

I respect your friends’ point of view, but I like yours better.  Listen to your own heart.  You can trust it.

Philip Yancey

While this does not necessarily speak directly to joy I believe it still relates.  Joy is not hiding your disappointments or hurt from God.  In fact the Bible acknowledges this:

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11, NIV)

So we acknowledge that joy is not faking happiness – the question then remains…what does it mean to rejoice in our sufferings??  Ray Stedman defines it as thus: “an awareness that this suffering has done something of supreme value; therefore, you wouldn’t have missed it. But you wouldn’t have chosen it, either!”

So how does one rejoice in suffering?  Mr. Stedman explains that we are able to rejoice because we know something – we know that suffering produces perseverance, character, and hope.  There is a point to our suffering.  It is not for nothing.  It produces perseverance (or steadiness) – the ability to be patient, to stay under pressure and not panic.  It also produces character – developing you to be a strong and reliable person.  A person that can withstand the test of disappointments and hurts and pain.  Finally suffering produces hope – hope that God is continually perfecting us to become more and more like Christ, transforming us into His image.

I will quote Mr. Stedman on this last point on rejoicing in suffering:

“I know some Christians who are suffering, but are not being made steady and reliable and confident. Instead, they are being made bitter and resentful and angry, even to the point of denying their faith. Suffering, you see, does not produce these qualities automatically. You can go through suffering as a Christian and be filled with anger and rage and resentment against God. What makes the difference?

As Paul explains here, the difference is in seeing your suffering as evidence of God’s love, and not his wrath. Then you will experience that love in the midst of the suffering. The Holy Spirit will shed abroad in your heart an experience of the love of God so rich and radiant and glorious that you will not be able to help but rejoice in your suffering. But, if you see your suffering as evidence of God’s wrath, you will be rendered frustrated and angry and resentful and miserable.”

Truth Thursdays exists to connect people through writing.  To initiate something honest, thoughtful, and meaningful.  Truth Thursdays is an open discussion of expressions. There are no right or wrong responses, Truth Thursdays are just what they are.

challenging myself.

My best friend recently bought me a book she had been trying to get me to read for a while now.  It’s called “Kisses from Katie” and it’s the story of an 18 year old girl that graduated high school, moved to Uganda, and adopted 14 kids.  All by herself.  All because God told her to.

We agreed on reading a chapter a day and then discussing it over Voxer.  I read the first chapter, cried my eyes out, and decided I had to share my reactions here.  So for the next couple of weeks I will be blogging about this book, one chapter at a time.

Chapter 3: Enough to go around

Quick Summary: Katie starts to realize the huge discrepancy between what she professes and how she lives.  She talks about how she feels the need to actually DO SOMETHING.  In an effort to be strategic, she starts by sponsoring school fees & supplies for two girls.  This stokes a fire in her to find sponsors for more children, so they can attend school, get an education, and carve out a better life for themselves and their families.

My reaction:

“As abject poverty confronted me every day, I felt deeply convicted about one thing: God did not make too many people and not enough resources to go around.  Because we were living in His world, there had to be a solution.  Everywhere I looked in the bible, from the beginning of the Old Testament to the end of Revelation, people who believe in God are supposed to share with the poor.  Helping the poor is not something God asks His people to do; it is something that, throughout all generations, He instructs us to do…clearly, from God’s perspective, those who are blessed with riches are supposed to share with the poor, meaning that those who don’t have the resources to get what they need can do so, to the point that the poor aren’t so poor anymore.  I looked around, though, and these new friends of mine were still destitute.  I wondered what the western world was missing and why so many Christians didn’t seem to be doing what God so obviously wants us to do where the needy are concerned.”

I was out driving yesterday and while waiting for the light to change a beggar-child came up to my window and knocked, asking for money.  In the Philippines you’re never sure whether that child is begging on behalf of a syndicate, or to get a fix.  But I wonder…does it matter?  Is it so important for me to hold on to P5 just because I’m not sure where the money would be used?  I truly don’t know the right answer.  But what do I know for certain?  I know I can be strategic.  If I don’t want to give P5 to a street kid can’t I give that P5 to a home?  To a feeding program?  Can’t I give of myself?  Can’t I spend a day or even half a day a week loving children?  Loving the poor?  Loving the unlovable?  I am not rich…but surely I can do without P5 each day.  Why am I like so many Christians that don’t do what God has commanded us to do – help the poor.  Share your belongings (Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-35).  Leave something for the alien, the fatherless, and the widow (Deut 24:19-22).  What am I doing??  I am not walking as Christ did.  As a disciple and Christ-follower, I’m doing pretty shoddy work.  Katie compares herself to “probably the worst disciple ever” – Peter, the rock on which God built His church.

“Peter is the rock on which God built His church.  But first, Peter was probably the worst disciple ever.  I am Peter…For each time I deny God the glory that is His, for each time I follow my will instead of listening to His, for each time I jump ahead without first consulting my Lord, He asks, ‘Daughter, do you truly love me?’ and I do.  ‘Feed my sheep.’  And I will.  And I do.  ‘Come follow me.’  And I am, or at least I am trying.  I am Peter.  I mess up.  I make mistakes, I am far from perfect, and God will use me.  God will establish great things through me.  You are Peter.  God already knows that you will make a mess, but His plan for you is great.  Go.  Feed His sheep.”

Thank God for His mercy and His grace.  Thank God that even when He sees me failing to be kind, to be generous, to be Jesus to someone less fortunate than I, He still forgives me.  He redeems me.  He calls me back.  He offers me chance after chance after chance.  He promises to use me – broken, selfish, cold-hearted me.  And He sees in me someone that is whole, generous, kind.  Someone that is like Him.

“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?’  ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’  Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’” (John 21:15, NIV).

Here’s my action plan: I’m going to be volunteering in some way.  Before the month ends I want to have found a place that I can spend some money on and some time in.  I want to practically help the needy.  Check in with me on this, I would love to be accountable!  And I would love it if whoever reads this would join me in reaching out, loving the needy, and being Jesus to them.

Acts 4:32-35

To learn more about Katie and her ministry you can check out Katie’s blog here.

an offering made with devotion.

My best friend recently bought me a book she had been trying to get me to read for a while now.  It’s called “Kisses from Katie” and it’s the story of an 18 year old girl that graduated high school, moved to Uganda, and adopted 14 kids.  All by herself.  All because God told her to.

We agreed on reading a chapter a day and then discussing it over Voxer.  I read the first chapter, cried my eyes out, and decided I had to share my reactions here.  So for the next couple of weeks I will be blogging about this book, one chapter at a time.

Chapter 2: In the crucible of contradiction

Quick Summary: Katie summarizes her first year in Uganda with the word “contradiction”.  She talks about how battling with feelings of immeasurable happiness doing God’s work and loneliness for family, friends, and the familiar comforts of home.  Embracing all the emotions as real and valid, at the end of the day though she wanted more than comfort.  She wanted God.  To dwell in His will for her life.

My reaction:

“I wanted to be challenged endlessly; I wanted to be learning and growing every minute.  I wanted to be taught by those I teach, and I wanted to share God’s love with people who otherwise might not know it.  I wanted to work so hard that I ended every day filthy and too tired to move.  I wanted to feel needed, important, and used by the Lord.  I wanted to make some kind of difference, no matter how small, and I wanted to follow the calling God had placed on my heart.  I wanted to give my life away, to serve the Lord with each breath, each second.  At the end of the day, no matter how hard, I wanted to be right here in Uganda.”

Do you ever think there’s got to be more to life than this?  Waking up, trudging halfheartedly to work, grabbing dinner, maybe watching a movie, going home, then doing it all again the next day?  I do.  For the past 3-4 years I have been thinking that perhaps I’m not doing what God designed me to do.  It started as a thought that would pop up every now and then when things at work became a bit too difficult for me.  Maybe this isn’t where I’m meant to be.  Maybe this isn’t what I’m meant to do.  Over time though, that inconstant niggling thought at the back of my head has turned into a loud persistent voice – showing up front and center.  It is telling me there is more to life than this.  More to life than serving myself and my needs.  This life is not meant for my benefit.  It’s meant to be lived on behalf of God.  By loving others.  Being Jesus to them.  And doing that in such a way that is uniquely me.  I don’t know that I am called to open an orphanage in Uganda.  I don’t know that I’m called to be a light in a world of industry titans.  That’s the problem.  I just don’t know.  I don’t know what my calling is.  But maybe, finally, I’m ready to listen to that loud persistent, constant voice in my head.  Perhaps now, now that the stubbornness has been replaced by this all-consuming discontent with how I’m living, I’ll be ready to follow where it leads.

“But I should not pity these children.  In fact, I should envy them.  At six years old, these children know what it is to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  These children know the greatness, the wonder of our God.  I’ve had people ask me why I think Africa is so impoverished, but these children are not poor.  I, as a person who grew up wealthy, am.  I put value in things.  These children, having no things, put value in God.  I put my trust in relationships; these children, having already seen relationships fail, put their trust in the Lord.”

My prayer today is to learn to leave these things and attachments behind.  To put my trust wholly in God and be willing to do whatever it is He asks of me.  I am not Katie Davis and I cannot do what she has been called to do.  Oh but to know that I am willing!  Willing to be changed so completely by the God who enables me to be more than just a cog in the machine, to do more than what I know I am capable of.  To rest in the center of His will for my life.  And to go forth and do what He has designed me to do.  At the end of my life, I want to be able to say (as Katie is able to) “I have given my life away, an offering made with devotion, to serve the Lord, with each breath, each second.”

Romans 12: 1-2

To learn more about Katie and her ministry you can check out Katie’s blog here.

to love like Christ.

Kisses-from-Katie-199x300My best friend recently bought me a book she had been trying to get me to read for a while now.  It’s called “Kisses from Katie” and it’s the story of an 18 year old girl that graduated high school, moved to Uganda, and adopted 14 kids.  All by herself.  All because God told her to.

We agreed on reading a chapter a day and then discussing it over Voxer.  I read the first chapter, cried my eyes out, and decided I had to share my reactions here.  So for the next couple of weeks I will be blogging about this book, one chapter at a time.

Chapter 1: Falling in love – with a country

Quick Summary: Katie talks about the decision to do a short mission trip in Uganda while still in high school.  She quickly realizes she’s meant to go back, for at least a year this time.  After high school graduation she packs up and moves to Uganda for what she thought would be one year.

My reaction:

“I just sat right down on that cold, hard floor and snuggled my nose into their dirty necks and kissed their fungus-covered heads and didn’t even see it.  I was in love.”

I felt so ashamed to even read that.  I am all too aware of dirt, of disease, of filth.  I have been to a couple of orphanages.  I live in a country where street kids are all too common.  I used to think I was compassionate.  But I read those words and realized my heart is evil.  My heart doesn’t look at people covered in filth and realize that’s how I must look to God.  My heart doesn’t say love them anyway, play with them, kiss them, hug them.  I cringe.  I stay away.  I’m not being Jesus to people that really need Him.

“It is simply an ongoing, ever-changing result of what it looks like to try to love like Christ in my life…this is the place where I am supposed to follow Jesus, obey Him, and make my best effort, with His gracious help, to treat people with dignity and care for them unconditionally.  To say yes to each and every thing He asks of me, to each person He places in front of me.”

I started to cry while reading this.  I am nearly 30 years old and I do not know how to live this way.  A girl almost a decade younger is able to live this way.  Why can’t I?  The truth of it is that I am full of fear.  I’m fearful that I’m not doing what God wants me to do.  I’m afraid that what He wants me to do might be to live uncomfortably for the rest of my life.  I’m afraid to step out in faith and change my life because I have no money to do so.  I found myself thinking that if only I had the funds, I could take a year off and volunteer somewhere.  But only if I had the resources to do so because I can’t imagine doing something crazy like that and not having the security of a hefty bank account to sustain me.   I am trapped by my fears and burdened by my attachments.  And I’m upset and angry.  I’m upset to be confronted with my selfish, evil heart.  I’m angry that I have come to this.  I cannot reconcile the person I am with the person I desire to be.  They are worlds apart and the realization sends me into despair.

My prayer today was simple.  Lord change my heart.  Enable me to love people, truly love people, the way that You do.  I realize that You may have been breaking me all this time to get me to a place of surrender to Your calling and plan for my life.  But Lord, please, can’t you just change my heart and enable me, by Your grace, miraculously, to be the kind of person that would leave everything and bravely go forward doing what You want them to do?

I’m emotionally exhausted just reading this first chapter.  But I’m also cautiously hopeful.  I am hoping that by the end of this book God will have given me a new heart, one that is ready to receive Him in any capacity.

To learn more about Katie and her ministry you can check out Katie’s blog here.