Kisses from Katie

               For the past three weeks I have had "blog block." Maybe in correspondence to spiritual block.  Going from such a spiritual high to such a spiritual low put me on rock bottom and I began trying to climb my way back up myself. Now I am realizing there is no climbing to do but only to be lifted up in the arms of my Jesus. I am finding it nearly impossible to put into words the struggles and weight I am carrying and yet everyone around me sees it through the tears in my eyes and my silence in response to their weighing questions. And yet I keep on walking, taking one step in front of another, having no idea where these steps are taking me. Because I know that God has a plan. I know He is in this emotional turmoil and doubting heart. I know He is in control. He is speaking grace and love over me in the small ways each new day, and that is what matters.

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis spoke God`s grace and love over me in a new way and encouraged this heart to keep on pushing forward... keep on trusting. Because I am finally not afraid to admit it, after 5 years of following Jesus, that I am a complete mess. I am Peter, I am Moses. I am an imperfect, sinner. And I NEED a Savior. I desperately need the breath, life, love, truth, and grace of Jesus to meet me new every morning. I desperately need his forgiveness. I desperately need his daddy arms wrapped around me, reminding me that I am loved and I am chosen. I don`t have it altogether. I don`t know all the answers. My perfection cannot save me. Oh how freeing it is to admit that, to finally realize I don`t have to be perfect on my own anymore.

So as you read these Kisses from Katie...relish in the truth of these words. Sit, be still, remember. You are loved. You are loved by the God of the universe. He knows your name, He knows your every fear and every struggle and your exact circumstance, always. And He delights to be in it with you. To join you in this struggle called life and allow it to somehow, through the failures and disappointments, to be joyful. To be filled with thanksgiving. To be lived to the fullest. Life in the fullest with Jesus alone.



And He looks at me, at you, in all our sweat and dirt and brokenness, and says, “I choose you. You are beautiful.”






The truth is, I saw myself in those little faces. I looked at them and felt this love that was unimaginable and knew that this is the way God sees me. The children would run to me with gifts of stones or dirt and I saw myself, filthy and broken, offering my life to the God of the universe and begging Him to make it into something beautiful. I sit here in a broken world, small and dirty at His feet, and He who sits so high chooses to commune with me, to love me anyway. He blinds Himself to my sin and my filth so that He can forge a relationship with me."

God reminded me again that day that I have one purpose, in Uganda and in life, and that is to love.


The contradiction comes when I realize that all these experiences and emotions were real. The happiness that gave me chill bumps was a deep as my loneliness. My sense of certainty about being exactly where God wanted me was solid, but just as firm was the fact I wondered at times what on earth I was doing here. The frustration that threatened to overtake me on some occasions was just as deep and true as the unbounded joy I felt at other times. I loved my new life; I truly loved it. But compared to the life I had been living, it was hard. There were many moments when the only way I could keep going was to try my best not to look back but to look only forward, relying on God`s perfect plan. Like so many other things, this wasn`t always easy, but it was the key to conquering the mountains of difficulty that arose on the landscape of my life. Despite the obstacles, I felt a surprising level of comfort living in Uganda most of the time. I felt I was born to be there, and in many ways, living there seemed more natural than living in my native country. I had the unexplainable feeling, a settled knowing, that I was where I was made to be. I knew deep in my soul that I was home.

He reminded me that I could light candles in the hearts of others as long as I let Him fill my heart first.

I`ll be honest. The hard places can seem unbearable. It`s dark and it`s scary, and even though I know God said He will never leave or forsake me, sometimes it`s so dark that I just can't see Him. But then the most incredible thing happens: God takes me by the hand and walks me straight out of the hard place and into the beauty on the other side. He whispers to me to be thankful, that even this will be for His good. It takes a while sometimes, coming out of the dark place. Sometimes God and I come out into a desert and He has to carry me through that too. Sometimes I slip a lot on the way out and He has to keep coming back to get me. Always, on the other side is something beautiful, because He has used the hard place to increase my sense of urgency and to align my desires with His. I realize that it was there that He was closest to me, even in the times when I didn't see Him. I realize that the hard places are good because it is there that I gained more wisdom, and though with wisdom comes sorrow, on the other side of sorrow is joy.

Peter is the rock on which God built His church. But fist, Peter was probably the worst disciple ever. I am Peter.

Jesus tells Peter the Peter will deny Him 3 times; Peter says, "No! I love you, I could never deny you, Lord." Yet we all know that Peter does in fact deny Jesus 3 times. I know in my heart and my soul and the core of my being that I LOVE the Lord, that I would do anything for Him, go to the ends of the earth for Him, but how often do I forget to give the Glory back to His name? How often do I take compliments without giving Him the credit, without the honor and praise back to God who has given me this work? Do I, as Peter, deny Jesus the glory that is His?

Jesus told His disciples that it was God's will for Him to be arrested. He went willingly when the soldiers came to take Him, but enthusiastic, loving Peter raised his sword and cut off a soldier's ear. I'm sure Jesus chuckled and shook His head as He put the ear right back on the man. "put your sword away," Jesus commanded, "shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?" I am Peter. I have my own time frame. When I don't see things happening, I try to make them happen. And Jesus says, "Put away your sword, put away your plans. Shall we not do what the Father has asked of us?" So like Peter, I put away my plans, my defenses, and watch as everything happens perfectly, in God's own timing.

After Jesus had risen, He appeared to His disciples while they were fishing. When Peter saw his beloved Savior, He excitedly jumped out of the boat and began swimming where Jesus stood. Needless to say, the boat probably reached the shore long before Peter. I am Peter. Excitedly jumping into things, and then standing, sopping wet, at the feet of the Lord, smiling at my stupidity. I get excited, forget to think things through, and end up doing them the long way. Every time, though, just as with Peter, Jesus welcomes my soaking wet self into His arms and is simply happy to see me.

I am Peter who made many mistakes, but I am Peter who God had great plans for, who God established to do His work. Peter is the rock on which Jesus built His church. The very night that Perter foolishly jumped out of the boat, Jesus reinstated Him in the presence of the other disciples. "Do you truly love me?" He asked. "Then feed my lambs." "Do you really love me? Take care of my lambs." "Peter, DO YOU LOVE me? Feed my sheep, and come. Come follow Me."

For each time that 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.


Sometimes I felt it was easier to cling to Jesus in that state of having nothing than it was to cling to Him while surrounded by the abundance of America.



He chose Moses. He chose David. He chose Peter and Paul. He chose me. He chose you. Common people. Simple people. People with nothing special about them. Nothing special except they said yes. They obeyed. They took the task God assigned them and they did it. They didn't always do it well, but they said yes, and with His help they did it anyway.


Moses was a murderer, a shepherd just trying to mind his own buisness and move on with his life when he watched a bush catch fire and not burn up. God wanted to use him to lead His chosen people out of Egypt. Moses was human and told God that He had the wrong guy. Moses wasn't an eloquent speaker, and he was afraid. But he said yes, and God used him anyway. The Red Sea parted and people believed.
 

David was a shepherd boy, pretty much the runt of the litter, the very last thought in his father's mind, and despised by his brothers. God wanted to use him to be the next great king of Israel. Though everyone doubted and watched in horror, David said yes, and God used him anyway. Little David used a stone to take down the giant Philistine. The Philistines were defeated, and though David continued to make mistakes, God used Him to make Israel a great nation and relay His words to many people.
 

Mary was a peasant girl, probably a teenager, getting ready to marry a local carpenter. God wanted to use her to carry His son, hope for all mankind, into the world. She asked the angel, "Why me?" and "How?" Ultimately, though, she surrendered herself to His will. She said yes, and God used her anyway. A baby was born who transformed the world then, and still does today.
 

Paul was a young man who made it his goal to destroy Christianity, dragging believers to prision and even killing them. God wanted to use him to proclaim His name to Gentiles all over the world. Paul had a violent history and initially other believers were afraid. But he said yes, he fearlessly proclaimed the Gospel, and God used him anyway. Paul performed and witnessed miracles and spread the Good News all over the world.
 

I am just a plain girl from Michigan. Broken in many ways, sinful, and inadequate. Common and simple with nothing special about me. Nothing special except I am choosing to say "yes."  Yes to the things God asks of me and "yes" to the people he places in front of me. You can too. I am just an ordinary person. An ordinary person serving an extraordinary God.  



I was learning that the powerless, broken, dependent place was actually the place where the Lord was closest to me.


I believe that God totally, absolutely, intentionally gives us more than we can handle. Because this is when we surrender to Him and He takes over, proving Himself by doing the impossible in our lives. I have learned to accept it, even ask for it, this ‘more than I can handle.’ Because in these times, God shows Himself victorious.  He reminds me that all of this life requires more of Him and less of me. God does give us more than we can handle.  Not maliciously, but intentionally, in love, that His glory may be displayed, that we may have no doubt of who is in control, that people may see His grace and faithfulness shining through our lives. And as I surrender these situations to Him, watch Him take over and do the impossible, I am filled with joy and peace—so much more than I can handle.


I serve the God who used Moses, a murderer, to part the Red Sea; a God who let Peter, who would deny Him, walk on water. A God who looks at me, in my all my fallen weakness and says, “You can do the impossible.”


Everything can teach you something.


The truth is, everyone has “flesh” moments.


“I sometimes got caught up in “I deserve this” moments; I still do. I have moments when I compare myself to other people and trick myself into believing that I am doing pretty well. There are still moments when I believe I should be able to relax and do nothing some afternoons, instead of taking care of one more sick person. There are moments when I think that because I have worked hard all day, I deserve to be able to sit down and eat my food instead of answering the door for one more person who needs help. The truth is that these thoughts are not at all scriptural. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that I deserve a reward here on earth. Colossians 3:23 says, “whatever you do work at it with all your heart.” It does not end in, “and after this hard work you deserve a long hot bath and some “me time’” It does end with, “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” 

Christ is all we need.

When I have a rough day, or several rough days in a row, I can easily forget why I do what I do. I used to repeat to myself, “Do not forget in the darkness what you have been promised in the light.” When my days are dark and difficult, I am tempted to look around and think, Why? Why do I do this? Why would I take one more child? Why would we live with less so we can give to others more? Why did I leave family and friends to go to a land of strangers? What am I doing here?
I do not usually forget the answer to all these questions: “For Jesus. Because He called me to this and because He gave His life for me.” This means that it has been granted to me, it is my privilege, not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for Him (see Philippians 1:29). That suffering is not alone, but is with Him, and oh, what a privilege it is just to be able to be in His presence, to share that with my sweet Savior.


As I read my Bible last night after falling into bed, the Lord continued to take me to the miracles of Jesus. And something really stood out to me that I have never noticed before. The Bible tells us of Jesus magnificently raising Lazarus from the dead, healing numerous deathly ill people, and feeding thousands. What the Bible does not mention, but what must be true is that years later, Lazarus still died. The people Jesus healed were inevitably sick again at some point in their lives. The people Jesus fed miraculously were hungry again a few days later. More important than the very obvious Might and Power shown by Jesus's miracles is His LOVE. He loved these people enough to genuinely care, to do everything in His power to make it better. He entered into their suffering and loved the right there. We aren't really called to save to the world, not even to save one person; Jesus has already done that. We are just called to love with abandon. With EVERYTHING we have. We are called to enter in to our neighbor's suffering and love them right there.


So God picks me up, exhausted from struggling, and plops me in the center of His will for my life. And then a funny thing happens. As I kick and scream and struggle, I remember: I like being in the center of God`s will for my life. God`s plan is usually pretty great. It is a whole lot better than mine anyway. I am so glad that He does not allow me to win.


I don`t always know where this life is going. I can't see the end of the road, but here is the great part: Courage is not about knowing the path. It is about taking the first step. It is about Peter getting out of the boat, stepping out onto the water with complete faith that Jesus will not let him drown. I do not know my five-year plan; even tomorrow will probably not go as I have planned. I am thrilled and I am terrified, in a good way. Some call it courage; some call it foolish; I call it faith. I choose to get out of the boat. Sometimes I walk straight into his arms. More often, I get scared and look down and stumble. Sometimes I almost completely drown. And through it all, He never lets go of my hand.

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