On a day when there are so many things to distract me and discourage me, I am trying to keep my focus on what is true, on what is beautiful, on the hope I have. So, this is what I thought of: a book I recently finished. I am notorious for starting books and losing steam about halfway through, but this one got picked back up at Lodge Weekend and actually got finished!
Kisses from Katie (Howard Books, 2011) is a beautiful, challenging account of a young lady's determination not to settle for the status quo and what would be expected of a bright, college-bound high school grad. A year of ministry before she started college turned into a new life in another country where Katie Davis would impact others in ways she may not have ever dreamed. What started out as a trip to Uganda to teach Kindergarten for a year turned into so much more. After falling in love with the Ugandan people and seeing the extensive needs spread before her, Katie chose to stay there and continue to love people like Jesus has loved her. Long story short, she dropped all the comforts and conveniences of her normal life in the States and exchanged them for a houseful of girls who call her Mommy, a community where she is a vessel of the love of Christ in practical ways, and a ministry Amazima that cares for hundreds of children in Uganda.
I got this book for Christmas last year, and looked forward to reading it. But it took me months to crack the cover. Not because I didn't want to, but because I was too busy. My days were too full of commitments, running here and there, and trying to get some good sleep once in a while (and I do love me some good sleep!). A beach trip this summer finally provided the opportunity to start the book. Sitting in a lounge chair next to a pool at a huge beach house isn't exactly the most convenient time to be challenged about a lifestyle of excess and superfluous comforts. Talk about conviction. But the beach trip ended, and the book went back on the shelf, unfinished.
When I finally finished the book last weekend, all the ways it had challenged me before came flooding back a hundredfold. The "big" things in my life aren't really that big at all. I am well fed, well clothed, well housed, well spoiled. There are things I have to excess what so many lack all together. If this doesn't impact my lifestyle, how can I call myself someone who walks in Christ's footsteps?
And then this past Sunday was "Adoption Sunday," and a couple from my church who had recently traveled to Uganda and are now in the process of adopting a brother and sister from an orphanage there mentioned Kisses from Katie. Coincidence? I think not. The Lord has put adoption in my heart more and more over the past year or so. But I have always thought it was a waiting game since I'm single. When I'm married I'll be able to adopt. But does it have to be? How in the world could I move this a long without trying to rush the whole getting married thing? I don't know what that looks like, but just opening the doors of thought in that direction might be the start of something bigger than I thought was possible. Maybe a little like Katie. Maybe I just have to carefully listen the Lord's leading, follow Him there, and let him do the rest.
Beyond the ways Katie's life challenges my own, I have to fight the temptation to mimic her calling. She's two years younger than me, but she's done so much more than I have. Should I pack up and find some orphans to take care of? Should I give up all that has become normal to me for the sake of an obedience adventure that's glamorous in the eyes of the Christian community? No. Not necessarily. My obedience to the call of God doesn't have to look like Katie's. The way she moved across the world to care for orphans makes me quitting my job this summer to live in the same place to work for a ministry seem much more insignificant. But it's not insignificant. My ministry matters. And that's a way the Lord has called me. But he's not done with me. I can't just keep living my comfy life, working for a nonprofit, and calling that "following." I can't settle for that. I need to poor my heart and energy and life into Jesus and the ministry where he has placed me. I need to have a critical eye of my life choices and fight living in excess. I need to support others' calls, but I need to follow only the one the Lord has spoken to me. And I need to make sure I'm listening.
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