my heart spilled…

Disclaimer: This post was hard to write, and for some it will be hard to read. I prayed before I posted and I do believe that it is what the Lord would have me say. This is my blog, a place where I share my private thoughts and I invite you to remember before you comment that no one has forced you to read it.

She was eighteen years old and she had never been in love with anyone she could touch before. I mean, she had been in love with Jesus since she was little, but this was different, touchable love.
In her eyes he was perfect. He loved the Lord, not to mention he was pretty darn cute. He went to church with her and joined her on silly errands and at family dinners. He made her giggle by saying things that only she found funny. He made her heart flutter when he swept that one always-stray piece of hair out of her eyes.

They were the “perfect couple.” They were desperately in love; one lit up as the other entered the room. They could see their beautiful future together. After high school, they would go together to college, get married, work a bit, settle down and have children with his eyes and her big smile. They would grow old together, laughing at secrets and kissing each other goodnight.

And then God asked her to move to Uganda. At first it was just going to be a year. They could do a year. She would come back and they could still go to college together and all their dreams would still come true. When the Lord asked her to adopt her first children, it became a bit more complicated. She rationalized that her youngest was 7, so in 11 years, she could move back home and be with him. But her children kept getting younger and His call kept getting stronger. She would go back in 13 years, in 17 years, in 20 years. Finally she came to terms with the fact that God was just asking her to STAY. And that when He said He wanted ALL of her, He meant all. She would live in Uganda. But she held on to her love because remaining comfortable was so much easier than dealing with the hurt and the emptiness would be.

Her eyes were opened and her life was changed. She couldn’t pretend to be the same person. She couldn’t sit still in his would anymore, it made her head spin and her heart ache. And still she held on because she didn’t love him any less. She knew God could move mountains and she prayed He could change his heart. After all, such a love must have been God orchestrated.
He made her feel beautiful as she walked through life as a single mom covered in dust and spit up. He appreciated her even when everyone else forgot to say thank you. He believed in her when the rest of the world said raising eighty thousand dollars or adopting ten children was silly. Even from the other side of the world, he cheered her on and he picked her up when she just didn’t feel strong enough. His voice on the other end of the phone turned a rough day right around.

They were moving in opposite directions. They both new it, but they both refused to let go.
So she asked God for a very specific sign. For something that she thought very unlikely if not absolutely impossible. And then something devastating happened. God gave her the sign that she asked for. So she kissed him goodbye and drove away and cried so hard that she doubted she would ever breathe again. She tried not to wonder if anyone would ever love her like that again or how she would do this all alone.

And that’s when He reminded her that she wasn’t. That HE would make her feel beautiful as a single mom covered in dust and spit up. That He appreciated her even when everyone else forgot to say thank you. That He believed in her when the rest of the world thought everything she did was crazy. That He would cheer her on and pick her up when she just didn’t feel strong enough. That His voice whispering in her ear would turn those rough days right around. That He would ALWAYS be faithful. That His love would be unconditional. That He, her ONE TRUE LOVE would never leave or forsake her and would give her heart’s desires. That He would make all things new, ever her shattered heart.

* * *

A few days ago an American woman who had spent about three days of her life in a third world country looked at me and said, “I would SO love to do what you do. I would do it in a heartbeat. Oh, I would take 14 kids in a second!” It is a good thing that I was having a graceful day, because I said, “Aw that’s nice.” But my not so graceful heart was angry. And the not so graceful voice in my head wanted to say to her, “Ok then, do it. I can have you 14 orphaned, abandoned, uncared for children tomorrow. So here is what you have to do: Quit school. Quit your job. Sell your stuff. Disobey and disappoint your parents. Break your little brother’s heart. Lose all but about a handful of friends because the rest of them think you have gone off the deep end. Break up with the love of your life. Move to a country where you know one person and none of the language. And when you are finished, I will be here waiting with your 14 children!” I wanted to ask her what was stopping her, knowing that the answer would be her comfort. I wanted to look at her and tell her that my life was full and joyful and WONDERFUL, but I also wanted to tell her to COUNT THE COST. Because my life IS full and joyful and wonderful, but it is NOT easy. My life is NOT glamorous. I do not expect it to be. I do not think that anything about carrying a cross was easy or glamorous either.

Which brings me to my point. I am not actually that angry about what that woman said, it was just an offhanded comment. But it got me to thinking… How many times to we grieve our sweet Savior’s heart because we refuse to COUNT THE COST? How many times do we choose comfort instead of the cross?

In my NIV Bible, the header above Luke 9:57-62 says, “The Cost of Following Jesus.” Here it is, plain and simple, laid out for us by the Lord. “As they were walking along the road, a man said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my Father.” Jesus said to Him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you Lord, but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts His hand to the plow and looks back will be fit to enter the Kingdom of God.” THIS IS SERIOUS STUFF. A little later in Luke 14:25, “The Cost of Being a Disciple,” Jesus tells the crowds gathered around Him, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry His cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to complete it; everyone who sees it will ridicule him saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first consider if he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and ask for terms of peace. In the same way any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

In Luke, in the days of Jesus, He expected EVERYTHING of his disciples. Do we believe that He requires the same today? We sure don’t act like it. If you ever read my blog or have heard me speak then you have heard me reference Matthew 25, the parable of the sheep and the goats. Jesus basically looks straight at the crowd and tells them that when He comes back, those who have seen the needy and met their needs will come with Him to heaven. He also says that those who have seen the needy and done nothing will be sent away to “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Right, hell. This is heavy, I know, but I believe that it is TRUE. I believe that the words of Jesus are timeless and therefore still apply to anyone desiring to be His follower today. (Oh, and in case you think you can get away with saying that you have not seen Jesus naked or hungry or thirsty or in need and therefore you are off the hook, let me help you. 30,000 children will die today because of hunger or preventable disease. There. Now you know. Now you are responsible too.) Faith without good deads is DEAD, my friends. Yes, I believe fully in salvation by His grace alone. I do not believe that anything we do or work for will save us. I also believe that if we are indeed saved, meaning that He lives inside of us, we will desire to do what is pleasing to Him. That if we really love Him with all our hearts and all our strength, NOTHING will feel like sacrifice in light of the promise that one day we will get to be with Him forever. Automatically, we will help those in need, we will give our all, we will love our neighbor as our self, because our heart is aligned with His. But so many don’t. This then begs the question: If we are not walking in the words of Jesus, do we truly know Him? Do we really know and believe in the Jesus of the Bible. Because if we do, if we believe what He says is true, our lives will be powerfully, unimaginable, radically different than the lives of those around us. He requires EVERYTHING.

I wonder today if I had been one of the people listening to Jesus as He spoke in Luke 9 and 14, if Jesus would have convinced me to follow Him or if I would have walked away. I believe I would have really really wanted to say goodbye to my family. I wonder about “Christians” today. We wear Jesus on our T-shirts, we wear His cross around our neck and a bumper sticker with His name on it on our car. Have we just laid the foundation without being able to build the building? Does Jesus feel like I did when a woman I didn’t know told me she would love to do what I do but I knew that she never would? Do we claim the precious name of Jesus Christ without counting the cost? Without being willing to REALLY give it all? And does Jesus, in His infinite grace, look at us and say, “Aw, that’s nice,” but really with the furry that he flipped over the tables in the temple want to spit our lukewarm selves out of His mouth?

This is heavy on my heart. I have spent hours typing it to get the words out right and still I feel like I am rambling. If you would like more references on God’s heart for the poor, try Isaiah 56-58, Proverbs 14:31, 21:13, 28:27, Matthew 19:16- 30, Luke 6:20-25, 18:18, James 5:1… Please feel free to add more in your comments! If we believe that these words are true, the way we are living is not tolerable. How can we live in willful disobedience and claim to know Jesus Christ?

I do not claim to have the answers. I do not claim to be doing it right. I do claim to believe that the words of Jesus are absolutely true and apply to me, right now today. I want to give EVERYTHING, no matter the cost. NO MATTER THE COST. Because I believe that nothing is sacrifice in light of eternity with Christ.

Please take an hour of your time to listen to this sermon my David Platt of Birmingham, Alabama. I pray that it would drastically change your life: www.brookhills.org/media/series/radical

364 thoughts on “my heart spilled…

  1. Katie~
    14/13: # of kids you have
    0: minutes you have to read this, to be sure
    1,000,000+: tears I felt streaming while I read your post.
    350: comments so far on this post alone by people who are being CHANGED by your thoughts about Jesus and His transforming love
    1: Tennessee boy you left behind who is MISSING OUT, Baby Girl
    ?: children we are out to find in my family, to add to the 3 already here. Starting now.

    I love you, sister. Fight on. You are loved big time. xxxxxooo

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  2. thank you Katie for reminding me what Jesus meant when he said Matthew 10:37, 38
    “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

    And in Matthew 19: 29 of His hundredfold promise when we leave those things.

    Thank you Jesus, for speaking clearly to me, for showing me Your will, which I knew all along.

    blessings sister, praying for you from Nicaragua

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  3. Hey Katie,
    I've posted once or twice before, and I don't imagine with the ministry you do you'll have time to read through the 350+ comments anytime soon, but in case you get down here to comment # 353, I wanted to encourage you. I've been living and ministering amongst the poor for more than 25 years now. When I left all; family, friends, the comfort of S CA…everyone thought I was SOO radical. They tried to either put me up on a pedestal or convince me why I didn't need to go live amongst the poor- because, hey, after all, didn't Jesus say 'the poor you'll always have with you.' It was like people wanted to either make me a saint or tear me down for the foolishness of actually thinking Jesus meant what He said about caring for the poor.

    I have no regrets. Sure, there have been costs- and those costs include having my heart shattered at times, but Romans 8:18,19 and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 really are true!

    Romans 8:18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.

    2 Corinth 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

    Sometimes I wish I was starting out now because it is almost 'cool' and the 'in thing' to be concerned about issues of injustice and poverty. There is so much more support out there now for this sort of thing. But when I started out, I got my least encouragement from the church. Yet when I think about it, I'm glad it happened that way as it was pure Jesus that I went the direction I did. I think your call is pure Jesus, so be thankful for that.

    I too, like you, have had lots and lots of opportunities to laugh at the foolishness of Americans and their comments in 25 years. But hey, I'm one of them and can make foolish comments too, so I don't exclude myself. But having lived in a garbage dump and ministered in war zones and suffered through malaria too many times to count and not having 25 cents to give someone in the village to take the bus to her mom's funeral…well, it gives you a different and I hope wise and more eternal perspective.

    So when someone who comes on a 1 week mission trip starts making sweeping assessments about an entire nation, I either have to laugh or cry. The arrogance of Americans is quite amazing at times. I don't usually share this freely as to not alienate, but I'm writing to you, so I think I can be blunt and honest and you can take it and relate to it.

    I have heard some crazy things from people who have been short-term missionaries for 1 month and almost feel like they're experts after that. They may have spent their time in one small area of a nation, but they can then come up with grand sweeping generalizations that they try to apply to an entire nation they really know little about. They go on radio shows and speak at churches and write blogs- but their vision is so limited. I mean, it's one thing to share what you experience, but it's another to set yourself up as some sort of 'wise' one from a week or a summer of service. But patience is a virtue, so I pray, and where I can, try to input with those who seek it.

    (Part 2 continued in next comment)

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  4. (Part 2)
    The main thing I want you to know- is you are so NOT alone. I won't put you on a pedestal, because I don't believe that's where you want to be, and also because Jesus has some pretty harsh words for those on pedestals. (Even if you don't put yourself there, from one missionary to another, I warn you, “Run for your life from such idolization.” God kind of gets jealous about that position.)

    Another reason I won't put you on a pedestal but I want to encourage you with- is know that there are THOUSANDS of people like you out there serving God. This is actually one of the biggest gifts God's given me the last 25 years of serving Him amongst the poor: to see and work with some amazing women and men of God who are the 'Mother and Father Teresa's' of our day, but they are off the radar screen of most of the world.

    So my unseen compatriot, keep journeying on deeper into His heart, hunger for humility, and keep loving those orphans. They are His treasures, and He is sharing them with you.

    Melinda Nelson

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  5. When I started reading the comments I imagined you reading them, and wondered if you said aloud to yourself “aw, that's nice.”

    I feel so much love and anger towards you right now Katie. The whole way through I was thinking “please don't be saying what I think your saying.”

    Anyone who reads this please say a prayer for me! If God is telling me to tell him goodbye I'm going to need strength…

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  6. I REALLY HOPE THIS comment gets to be posted. I was REALLY touched by your story. BUT, I came to a point in your story that said, and I am quoting this, cause I wrote it down so I would not forget. It said…In Luke 14:25, if you DO NOT HATE your Father-Mother, or Wife-Children, or Brother-Sister, and yes, YOUR OWN LIFE, you cannot be my disciple. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN??? You have to hate your family before you can be a disciple, what kind of person could HATE their entirely family?? I for one, LOVE MY FAMILY, and could NEVER hate my children OR my MOTHER, because my Mother and I are THE BEST OF FRIENDS, and that will NEVER CHANGE!! SO, will you PLEASE help me understand what this means??
    Sincerely,
    Rita Emmons Budlong

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  7. Tears stream down my face as I type. My mouth open aghast as I read the words on your blog post that are directly from my own heart – the thoughts I've never given voice to written right on the screen in front of me.

    He's the only one I've ever loved these past seven years beginning when I was a junior in high school. Being with him is perfect – his encouragement, love, laugh, character – I can't imagine a better match. My heart overflows when he walks into the room. My laughter never ending when he's in my presence. How could it not be perfectly planned by the Lord?

    Yet I lived in Northern Iraq for six months after college and my heart changed – my soul changed. There's no way I could go back to being the same. No way to go on pretending. No way to be ignorant again.

    The Lord has been nudging my heart in a direction. Making me realize I can't live the life I might have wanted before Iraq. I'm suffocating here in suburbia. My heart drawn to a country I don't yet know the name of – a void in me wanting to love the unloved and care for the forgotten in some distant land. He's stirring my heart.

    “But what about him?!?” I ask the Lord. “What about this God-fearing wonderful man you've placed in my life?” Knowing full and well it could mean choosing to follow the Lord's plan for my life or being with the man I love. Knowing it might not be one and the same.

    How could I choose anything over the plan of my Maker? He's whispering, “Trust Me… Trust, my daughter”. And how could I not?

    Katie, I don't know if you will even read this comment seeing as this post is over a year old. But I just wanted to thank you for writing it. I know it must have seemed impossible to pour out for all to see, but reading this, knowing that someone else has felt that same ache, felt the knot her throat that constantly threatens to give way to a waterfall of tears. It somehow makes it seem like a less lonely road – knowing someone else has traveled the same one. Thank you for your realness, your openness and your painful honesty.

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  8. I got an assignment to read your book for a class. I had to read 2 books this summer, one for English, and then this one, for Bible. I do admit I procrastinated reading yours, but now that I have, I really do think I've changed. This particular blog post really went deep. Since I was little, I had fantasies of Prince Charming and a fantastic career. That's been really the thing I've been concerned about. Its as if I'm in college(theoretically, I'm only 13) I'm majoring in the idea of a career, putting most of myself in it. After that, I'm minoring in preparing myself for Love. My life with Prince Charming. I haven't done much for that, but it occupied my mind most of the time. I have been in Christ, absolutely. But it's been more of a college activity. Something I have and drip a little of myself into, but I haven't done anything much with it. I'm not dead in my sleep, but I certainly not been awake. Thank you for your inspiring words.

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  9. Hi Katie,

    I am impressed about what are you doing. Thank you for all the love you are giving to your new family there. God bless you with strength and patient!
    You are a light for these people and people like me hearing about your story.

    Thank you,
    Christian

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  10. Katie thank you so much for this post. God works in some amazing ways for my heart because last night I was struggling intensely with thinking about how I had to let go of one who I loved and adored dearly.. and all of the thoughts and emotions that come along with that. It's so encouraging to hear about how intense your story is, with having to have let your man go in a severe way, in order to follow what you knew God wanted you to do. For me, I knew I had to let go because I had to grow as a person and to learn how to be satisfied with only God. It's been a year and I am still struggling and growing in that, in fully be satiated by God and his adoration for me. I connect SO much with your anxiety of feeling that you may not ever be able to experience a connection with someone that lovely and adoring again. And the way that you have discovered that affection and adoration in God, and speak of it in such a raw and open manner, means so much to me.

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  11. Dear Katie, I am a 13 year old girl and I have read your book and blog so many times. They make me laugh and cry and long for a closer relationship with God. You are such an encouragement for me. You were willing to go through so much pain to follow Jesus but instead of pain all I see is Joy. You are a living example that you will be happiest only doing what God's purpose for you is. I hope I will be able to find mine. I am beginning to feel that I would like to go on a mission trip someday, but I'm not sure where or when or even why. Please pray for me. I will pray for you and all of your children.
    Thanks for being such an encouragement.

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