“You see, Jesus wrecked my life.” Katie Davis, in “Kisses From Katie”
These words have been ringing in my ears ever since I started reading this incredible book. They were proceeded by this sentence: “I never meant to live in Uganda, a dot on the map in East Africa, on the opposite side of the planet from my family and all that is comfortable and familiar. Thankfully, God’s plans also happen to be much better than my own.” (emphasis mine)
In many ways, my life couldn’t be more different from Katie’s. (You can read about it at her blog, The Journey. And I highly recommend you do.) While she is living in Uganda raising 14 adopted daughters as a single mother in her early 20’s, I am waiting around – sometimes patiently, more often IMpatiently - in a small town in central Arkansas for my first “home grown” child to be born so my husband and I can move to the other side of the world to plant our lives in Japan – one of the world’s most modern countries - as missionaries. The cultures of these two countries could be considered about as far apart as they are physically.
As I read of her journey, though, and the things she gave up to get where she is now, I can’t help but identify with her desires to serve God no matter what. You see, Jesus wrecked my life too.
I became a Christian at six, and have had an interest in foreign missions since I was a child. I grew up knowing two things: I would marry a man who was a minister in some way, and that I wasn’t have a “normal” life. I graduated high school, and moved away to college, met the man I would eventually marry – who was in fact, called to ministry – and filled my head with MY plans and MY dreams. We both had a strong interest in missions, but when my then-fiance felt called to youth ministry I was like, “OK this is it.” We’ll probably move around more than normal, because that’s how it usually works in the ministry. We’ll take our kids on lots of mission trips and do our best to instill a passions for missions in them. I’ll get my degree in occupational therapy, and when we have our three kids I’ll work part time and our life will be hunky dory. Maybe we’ll serve a longer period of time on the mission field, but one day…when we’re older…maybe we’ll retire there someday.
Well you know the saying…”Man makes plans. God laughs.” God didn’t just want us dipping our toes in the mission field once a year, He wanted us fully immersed.
My husband went off for a guy’s weekend with friends from his mentorship group, and then comes home and blows me away by asking me to pray about going on the foreign mission field. Like now. And for a really, really long time. After I got over the shock and initial fear, I began to feel God stirring my heart towards this as well, and in September 2009, we started the long long process that has taken us to this point now.
My life has been wrecked since that point. It has stretched me in many, many ways, and if I’m being honest, there have been many times when I’ve flat out told God I don’t like being stretched. There have been times when I’ve cried and prayed and lost my faith in God and questioned His plan and timing. I’ve struggled with the idea of moving to a new country and culture, and living in a city of 850,000 where Jason and I will be the only American missionaries and the population of Christians is less than 1%. We’ve dealt with major, and I mean MAJOR feelings of inadequacy in the work God called us to, only to be reminded over and over again, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) We’ve struggled with finding balance in a life in limbo for three years - not wanting to settle in, since we won’t be here permanently, but still forming ties and relationships with people, our church, and our community, all the while having the thought nagging in the back of your mind that it’s all just going to make it hurt worse when you have to pull up your roots and leave.
Now we are adding our first child to the mix. Over the years, people told me over and over that “At least you don’t have a kid. That would make it harder to leave,” and I would get so angry, because I have wonderful family and friends and am amazing church family, and that’s going to be hard to leave no matter what. Well now the kid is almost here, and I don’t feel any different. Honestly, by this point we would pack up and leave tomorrow if we could – baby or no baby. It’s just adding a whole new jumble of thoughts to the mix. Most new moms spend their time preparing for the baby by reading “What To Expect” and picking our nursery colors and décor. I’m reading books on ThirdCulture Kids and trying to figure out what to put on a baby registry when your little one will live in three different countries during the first year of it’s life, and what to send ahead in the crates and what to keep with us. And I’m a first time mom! Let’s face it, I have no idea what I’m truly going to need and not need yet.
But you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way! I LOVE my not-normal life! I honestly can’t imagine having to stay here. God has given me such a great love and burden for the Japanese people. The American Dream has no appeal next to planting my life and my family in the middle of Sakai City, Japan. I’ve found incredible joy in the wreckage of my former dreams.
I've been called brave for doing what we're going to do. Bravery has nothing to do with it, because there is no bravery in me. I'm just a girl who found Jesus when she was six years old, and at some point decided to let go and allow Jesus wreck my life. Let me encourage you to do the same. There is joy and fulfillment just waiting for you. Who knows where life might take you? People may think that Katie is insane for attempting to do what she’s done in her short life, and that I’m an awful parent by taking my child away from it’s family and home country to live on the other side of the world, but let them think what they may. Being in God’s will and living my life for His glory is infinitely more important.
"But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:42