Katie Davis is your typical American teenager, from a small town in Tennessee, ready to head to college, to pick a career and to marry her high school sweetheart. Yet, she was willing to leave all of that behind to go to Uganda, to a third-worl country to love the unloved and become a mother to the 14 orphans. Such beauty is found in the willingness to follow Him wherever He is leading.
Erwin McManus once said, "oh what God can do with a man whose willingness to act is limitless".
She's 21, I'm 21. She loves God, I love God. She loves the nations, I love the nations. But at the end of the day, I wrestle with my willingness to follow Him some times.
It took me probably about 3-4 sittings to finish this book, which is a fast pace for my busy schedule. But I couldn't stop reading and I couldn't stop crying. Deep down inside, there was something in me longing to be so willing and so ready to sacrifice. Her life was a sermon that my ears needed to hear.
"I began to realize huge flaws and gaps in my faith, a wide chasm between what I proclaimed and how I was actually living." (page 3o)
My words exactly. I find this to be something that I wrestle with often. I just want there to be an authentic connection between what I confess to believe in and how I actually live.
I want to connect the life I'm living with the image of how Jesus lived His life. I deeply want there to be a similarity. Something that she said really gave insight into how Jesus lived. She said, "God was opening my eyes to a whole new world and way of living and most importantly to a whole new way of living out the Gospel. Even though I realize I cannot always mend or meet, I can enter in. I can enter into someone's pain and sit with them and know. This is Jesus. Not that He apologizes for the hard and the hurt, but that He enters in, He comes with us to the hard places. And so I continue to enter in." (page 23)
Because He continues to enter in, I want to learn how to enter in. I don't want to fear those hard situations or those complexities but I want to be a presence to other people. Where there is confusion, I want to bring peace. Where there is hurt, I want to bring compassion and empathy. oh God, teach me how to enter in like You do.
I'm reminded of one of my favorite prayers prayed by Saint Patrick. It's such an immense desire of mine that I actually keep a copy of this inside of my Bible.
"Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me."
Moving On From Here.
In hindsight, I realize now how timely this read was for me. It was in my longing that the Lord met me and spoke to me. A lot of what the Lord spoke to me about moving to Thailand was through this book. I'm thankful that her story was told.
Let's just face it. Katie lives a pretty convicting life. Not many people can say that about themselves. I was challenged to look at my life as I read through different ways that she responded or how she treated a person. It made me look to Jesus and that's a beautiful thing.
Here are some of the main lessons that I took away from this book:
1. Love your neighbor well.
Beth Clark writes this in the introduction, "I've noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: they hold the unshakeable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters."
Who is my neighbor?
I continuously have to ask myself this question.
I have to fight the urge to categorize people. Thinking some are my neighbors and some are not, I'm convinced, is some form of hatred. It's certainly not love nor compassion. God, help me to see everyone as my neighbor.
Reading the different scenarios that Katie found herself in challenged me to break these false ideas of who my neighbor really is. It's the crazy, alcoholic man that everyone rejects in town; it's the almost dead orphan; it's someone who is hard to love.
God longs to redefine who my neighbor is.
2. Take action.
It's easy to feel compassion for a situation or to feel guilty for not doing something. Emotions comes easily for us. But a great missionary once said, "Sympathy is no substitute for action." God, I plead to never do such a thing. Yes, be guilty of caring but also be moved to action!
Katie herself said this, "Sometimes working in a Third World country makes me feel like I am emptying the ocean with an eyedropper." (page 2 of Introduction)
It's never easy to DO the things that God is calling us to do, but may we always be found DOING them regardless.
"Help me to hurt, not just a little, but the way You hurt when Your children are overlooked and perishing. Help me to never be too busy or too comfortable to remember the people who suffer. Help me to never stop desiring to do something about it. Lord, help us to remember that as the body of Christ, this is our responsibility. Thank You for loving us, even when we forget. I never, never want to forget again." (prayer from Katie's journal, page 224)
3. He Dreams Too.
While I was reading this book, someone reminded me of an old-school Christian song by a named Avalon. The song's chorus corresponded so well to a common theme woven within the pages of Kisses from Katie.
"The dreams I dream for you
Are deeper than the ones you're clinging to
More precious than the
finest things you knew
And truer than the
treasures you pursue
Let the old dreams die
Like stars that fade from view"
"Dreams I Dream for You", Avalon
Something that I was forced to constantly reconsider as I read this book was the dreams that I dreamed for myself. Yes, I know that God has plans for me but I so easily forget that His dreams don't compete with me dreams. Something has to happen in order for His plans to prevail.
It's in the laying down of the dreams that I have for my life that I find what I was truly made for. Truly, His ways are so much higher than my ways and His thoughts so much higher than my thoughts!
Katie proclaims, "the fact that I loved Jesus was beginning to interfere with the plans I once had for my life and certainly with this plans others had for me. My heart had been apprehended by a great love, a love that compelled me to live differently. I actually wanted to do what Jesus said to do. So I quit my life. I no longer have all the things the world says are important. But I have everything I know is important. Jesus wrecked my life, shattered it to pieces, and put it back together more beautifully." (page 1,2 of Introduction)
Praise God for His intervention in our lives. Even when He interferes with our dreams and life as we know it!
At the end of the day, I've found myself putting this book into other people's hands already! It's a great read & full of stories from an inspiring woman of God. It's challenging, heart-wrenching and Christ exalting!
Find an evening or two and sit down to hear for yourself what God has done through someone who was willing to be used by Him to love on His people. It won't disappoint you, that's for sure!
Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption
Katie Davis with Beth Clark
Purchase Kisses from Katie here.
Find out more about Katie's Ministry in Uganda here.
Read more from Katie at her inspiring blog.