“You are going to do what?” The astonished cry of my mother made me cringe even though I’d fully expected this reaction. I simply smiled and pressed on with my explanation.
It’s always been like this. Although not all of my ideas are wacky and bizarre, my family has come to view me as the oddball of the bunch. Still, announcing I was quitting my job, and selling all my possessions in order to follow God’s Dream for my life, was a shock even to me. Yet, I had never felt so sure of anything.
When I had chosen to marry Jamie right out of high school, my parents were concerned but they could see there was no stopping us. When Jamie and I spent our honeymoon at home instead of taking a trip, there were those who thought us a little peculiar but we were just eager to start our life together in our new little home.
Then Jamie died. For months I lived like a hermit, exhibiting strange behavior as I dressed in my husband’s clothes, refusing to let go of what we’d shared together. My whole life had revolved around being Jamie’s wife, partner, and then nursemaid. To call me co-dependent would not have insulted me; I cherished the idea that our lives had become so enmeshed.
When finally I re-entered the world, I did so, shaky and disorientated, counting on strength from Jamie and the memories of him. That was before a new friend introduced me to Jesus.
My family thinks of itself as religious so they were deeply offended when I told them I had become a Christian. (“We’ve attended church all our lives; of course we’re Christians.” They’d sniffed as I’d tried to explain the difference between religion and a relationship with the living Jesus Christ.) My journey into what they saw as weird and unconventional, was bringing me the deepest sense of satisfaction I’d ever felt, not to mention the strength to really face each day.
I learned about Make Way Partners one night as I stumbled across someone’s blog, the link to the website catching my eye. I read in growing horror of the atrocities taking place in the bloody war zone of Sudan; my stomach churning at the images the descriptions brought to mind. Make Way Partners had established an orphanage on the border of Darfur; the last place any sane white person would dare to go. Yet as I read my soul was gripped with the growing sense that this was where I was supposed to be. It was insane and I knew it but I could not stop thinking about the lost children of Sudan.
I began an email correspondence with the organization and learned everything I could about what they were doing to save the lives of these precious people. Children who were being trafficked for sexual perversions, women who carried deep internal scars for all they’d endured and lost. I knew what it felt like to suffer a great loss; how could I ignore their cries?
I listened to Kimberly Smith, the co-founder of Make Way Partners, as she spoke passionately about the call God made on her life and I heard it echo through the chambers of my own, once broken, heart.
God has a dream for each one of His children. As I opened myself up to listen and respond to what He had intended for me, I felt excitement stirring in me like never before. That was when I quit my job, sold everything and accepted the invitation to work with Make Way Partners.
You can call me crazy and say what I am setting out to do is outlandish, and I would agree with you. Yet, the knowledge that this is what I was created to do engulfs me with a joy that surpasses any fear.
I remember the night Jamie proposed to me. We had successfully argued every reason why we should wait yet the compulsion to press forward was strong. Finally, Jamie had turned to me with a smile and said something I still think of as profound: without decision and action, commitment is just an interesting idea.
When Jesus said “Follow me” to the fishermen, they didn’t say “Well that sounds like an interesting idea. Let me get back to you.” They dropped their nets and immediately followed.
I can do no less.
(NOTE: While this story is a work of fiction, Kimberly Smith and Make Way Partners are real. To learn more about their work please visit www.makewaypartners.org)
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