Chapter 1: Falling in Love – With a Country
To me, there is nothing very spectacular about this everyday craziness; it is just the result of following Jesus into the impossible, doing the little I can and trusting Him to do the rest…what I have learned is that I can do nothing incredible, but as I follow God into impossible situations, He can work miracles in and through me…
I would be one to say that what Katie experiences day in and day out seems to be “very spectacular”. It’s the kind of activity I dream of being a part of – of my family being a part of! But, on any given day, at any given moment, I have some “everyday craziness”! I do not see starving, dying bodies lying outside my front door. I do see 4 little bodies and 1 big man who need me, love me, and want me. They desire for me to care for them, spend time with them, play with them, feed them, and smile and laugh with them. And, if I ask Jesus to “open my eyes that I might see”, I become aware of the starving, dying souls walking around outside my front door. I am finding more and more as I pray to live eternally on earth, that God is starting with my “eye sight”. He not only doesn’t want me to think as the world thinks, but He wants me to not see as the world sees. I am Bartimaeus, and He is telling me to SEE (Mark 10:46-52).
I came to my husband in tears 2 weeks ago. I told him I just wanted to be a part of seeing the impossible made possible! He termed it the “impossible ministry” (and I liked it, so that’s what I say now). I don’t know that I have really thought my life was the “result of following Jesus into the impossible”. I mean, lots of girls go to Bible College and get married and start having babies. Most of those women stay home with those babies and support their minister-husbands. I am just doing something very “normal”…except maybe not to the world in which I grew up. I grew up in a family full of single mommas who worked hard to provide what they could for their children. One of the most talked about topics was going to college, majoring in something that would make you a lot of money, and never being dependent on anyone! I traded a state university for a large Bible university and then traded that last minute for a small Bible college no one had heard of! I traded a life of singleness for one of marriage…with children…and 2 dogs…and a few ministries. I traded a lot of money to live on, for…well, daily manna. I am trading my selfishness for their best interest. I am trading going out to eat a lot for learning how to cook at home. I trade Day Time tv to homeschool our children and help at the Church. I traded a completed college degree for independent learning. There really is nothing spectacular about how I see my life, but by His grace and lovingkindness He is letting me in on the miracles all around me. (Just recently He has shown me – and still is – how He works through our prayers! He does hear; He does care!)
He taught me that when doing my best was still not enough, that was when He took over; and because of His great grace and love, even in the frustrating moments I was filled with an inexplicable happiness and peace, my daily proof that I was living my purpose…God reminded me again…that I have one purpose, in Uganda and in life, and that is to love. I could ask for no greater assignment…
Thank goodness that He does take over! I have written on not being enough…maybe not enough! I am truly, everyday, clinging to Him for everything! From getting out of bed early in the morning to have alone time with my Father, to getting breakfasts and lunch and suppers prepared, to finding motivation to clean the house and do laundry, to slowing and stopping to really look into my children’s eyes when they’re talking to me, to actually taking a moment to smile and laugh instead of huffing and puffing and just about blowing my house down! I need Him, and He knows it!
One thing that I wrote in the margin beside these lines was how I long for “an inexplicable happiness and peace” where I’m at. I know, almost without a shadow of a doubt, that I would find that kind of joy tangibly helping the sick and needy, but I seem to lack it when I tangibly help my healthy and needy. (Yes, they are needy…just like you…just like me!) I also downplay how I can be of use here, in Colorado Springs. I know if I looked around hard enough I would find the poor, the orphan, the widow, the sick; I guess I’m “hindered from going there” for a couple of reasons. One, it’s not always apparent. We wear a lot of masks in this country. We may be physically, mentally, emotionally, and (especially) spiritually poor, but we hide behind masks of pride, pretense, and poses. We don’t want to be the person we are; we want to be everything they are…and more! (I feel the reality of my own words here!) Another reason I don’t see a whole lot of the poor, orphaned, widowed, and sick – I would be creating the poor, the orphaned, the widowed, and possibly the sick here in my own home. I can’t go off by myself to pursue my “tangible desires” and leave my family in the wake. In other words, I can’t rob my own to feed them.
Now, I do know that as a family we have and will have many opportunities to recognize the need and fill it. We can become the blessing! There is humility and meekness and the circumcision of pride when me becomes we, and though it may be hard for me to feel it right away, it makes me so glad! I think I can get frustrated with what seems like limits right now. My children range from 2-8 and my husband has a full-time ministry already. So, trying to work outside what we have already been given isn’t usually doable. I have downplayed our current ministry in my mind because of the limits I seem to have. I think of Katie, though. She is a young woman, who “had” children early, and though she does see much poverty and pain daily, she also wakes up to her girls daily. She wakes up to her children in her home, and her primary ministry is them. I am quickly becoming a “non-young” woman, I have children, and though there is much poverty and pain that I do not see daily, I still wake up to my 3 boys and 1 girl and that 1 amazing man daily. I wake up to my family in this home, and my primary ministry is them. I wondered as I read those pages in Chapter 1 why I could smile and shed joyful tears over her simple life and why I couldn’t remember if I had smiled or laughed at all that day with my children?
Katie states that she has one purpose…to love. My purpose is no less; yours is no less. No matter our circumstances, our sphere of influence, our limitations, our wide-open spaces, our age, the number of children we have, husband or not, children or not, rich or poor, single or married, at a mega-Church, at a church plant, or in the red dirt of Uganda – we are to love. Jesus traveled all around, but wherever He went He gave love and preached love. The apostles spread out all over, but wherever they went they gave love and preached love. It is our High Calling! So I pray: Fill me, Lord Jesus! Fill me with Your Spirit that the fruit of love may grow rich in me. Help me to love the way You love!
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.” John 3:16 The Message (He gave His Son – His Life!)
Luke 12;48 says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” And I have been given so much. So this is why my everyday, crazy, chaotic life seems so normal. It is simply an ongoing, ever-changing result of what it looks like to try to love like Christ in my life…
Entrusted with much. That term has been so abused in my life…probably in this culture. “Much” is equivalent to how much material wealth you have. How good you are with your savings and your retirement. If that is all it is based on, can I just say we are in serious lack! There is a Shaun Groves song that says, “There’s nothing in my bank account that saves”, and every time I hear it, I say “Amen!” Sometimes instead of feeling entrusted with much, I just feel demanded much from! Energy, time, and, yes, money. It’s so interesting that the one thing people spend hours and lives pursuing (earthly wealth) is the very thing that causes so much unhappiness, so much strife, so much divorce, so much depression, and sadly, so much death. Money is just a necessity of this earthly life, but we have made it our god. We have yelled at it to perform and satisfy and because it is sightless, voiceless, and lifeless it just sits there…and does not perform the way we thought it would. (I Kings 18) This passage in Luke must mean so much more!
If I think about what has been “much” in my life, the picture is a mosaic of light and dark colors. I have been entrusted with a hard childhood, a family who believes in God but does not have a relationship with Him, and material struggle. I have also been entrusted with a hope that took over my life 16 years ago, in the midst of the hard and the struggle. I have been delivered and forgiven OH SO MUCH! I have been cared for and comforted MUCH! I have been shown MUCH compassion! I have been given this wonderful opportunity to see how MUCH my Savior loves me through the love of my husband and my children. There has been so MUCH to do and work out and overcome in ministry. There has been so MUCH pain; there has been so MUCH joy!
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” It never ceases to amaze me how my God redeems…not just this girl, but her past too! My days are redeemed every time I take what I was entrusted with yesterday (the hard, the hopeful, the ugly, the beautiful) and stay open-handed today to give from what He gave. It is all grace…Job found that out. (Job 2:10) So, I will accept that the MUCH in my life is what has been “entrusted”, and I will expect to receive more. And I will expect to give more, even when what He is asking me to give doesn’t seem pretty or helpful or tangible or…much.
“…to love like Christ”…What was my Lord given while here on earth? What was His much? A simple family to grow up in, siblings who didn’t get Him, a cousin who looked like a wild man living out in the wilderness, a simple tunic to wear (John 19:23), not even a rock to lay His head on, friends, enemies, 2 fish and 5 loaves, an unfair trial, a flogging and a stripping and beating, a crown made of thorns, hands and feet hung by nails, a death between criminals, no sweet service to talk about His great life, just a quick burial in a borrowed tomb. He had been entrusted with much – not much of the “world” – but with what God laid in front of Him…and so very much was required. He didn’t whine about it. He didn’t wish to be someone else. He didn’t want to walk someone else’s path. He simply wanted to love God and others – extravagantly – so that others would go and do likewise. He didn’t waste His life wishing and dreaming for more and for different. He lived life with all that God gave Him, trusting that when it was time, God would give more, and if God withheld – He would be enough to sustain. Because of this simple faith and trust and life, God made many impossible things possible in Jesus’ life. I want no other way! I want to be like Christ; that’s the impossible miracle that He says is possible when I abide in Him. (John 15)
This is the place (Uganda) 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.
This is the place (Colorado Springs, being wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, church volunteer), for now or for my earthly forever, 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 (not what I wish for me), to each person He places in front of me (not to wait for the person I might some day get to be with, over “there”).