“Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left.” Isaiah 30:21 (NLT)
When we start walking with Jesus, we never know quite where the journey will lead. Missionary Katie Davis discovered this early in life. In 2006, Katie was a high school senior in Nashville, TN. She was class president, homecoming queen and top of her class. Her parents were supportive and loving and had raised her to love Jesus. It was this love for Jesus that radically interfered with the plans she once had for her life and certainly the plans others had for her.
It began in the winter break of her senior year when she took her first three-week mission trip to Uganda and fell in love with this beautiful country and the amazing people she encountered there. She was so enamored by the experience that she decided to spend a year as a missionary in Uganda after graduation. She assured her parents that she would then proceed with her plans to go to college to become a nurse and return to status quo. As followers of God often find, her plans were not God’s plans.
In 2008, Katie made the decision to move to Uganda full-time. She gave up a lot of normal things like girls’ nights and her favorite foods and even regular electricity for a whole new normal. That year, she founded Amazima Ministries which began as a non-profit organization to care for the orphaned and most vulnerable in her community. Fast forward 14 years, and that ministry has expanded to include the Amazima School, a vocational program for mothers in the community, farming outreach and medical outreach.
Today, Katie Davis Majors lives in Uganda with her husband, thirteen adopted daughters and two sons. In her book about this whirlwind experience, Katie wrote, “Jesus wrecked my life, shattered it to pieces, and put it back together more beautifully… I am blown away that my God who could do this all by Himself, would choose to let me be a little part of it.”
This has been the testimony of Christ’s followers throughout the Bible. Ruth was a young widow who could have chosen to return to her parents’ home and their gods after losing her husband. She could have remarried and had children, finding contentment in the path of least resistance.
Instead, she refused her mother-in-law’s pleading and said, “Don’t ask me to leave or turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” (Ruth 1:16,17)
Through her husband’s family, Ruth found the true God, and she clung to Him as the treasure of her life, abandoning all else.
“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:21 (NLT)
This was the choice made by the apostles when they followed Jesus all the way. In Luke 5:1-11, the story is told of the day Jesus called Peter, James and John to follow Him. It had been a long night of fruitless work for the fishermen, and perhaps the burden of failure weighed on them as they washed their nets and listened to Jesus speak to the crowds. When He had finished speaking and told them to once again lower their nets into the sea, it was more out of respect for Him than belief in a catch that they obeyed. Imagine their astonishment when the nets were so full both boats could not support the catch of fish! It was here, on the most lucrative day of their careers, that Jesus called the men to leave everything and follow Him. And that’s exactly what they did.
As cliché as it may sound, I am learning anew that choosing to follow God, wherever He leads, is the most important decision a person can make. It is the overarching choice that directs every choice that follows- our careers, our relationships, where we live, the friends we choose, how we interact with our family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. There are so many competing voices and influences in our lives and varying opinions on what direction our lives should take. Our God specializes in the unusual and extraordinary so what He calls us to do will not always make sense to onlookers.
The questions to ask daily are “Will this choice help me to build God’s kingdom? How can I glorify God in this?”
Sometimes, this means my plans must change, or I have to take a backseat. It can be as drastic as changing your major, leaving one job for another one, or moving to another city. Or maybe it is a smaller change- getting involved in a ministry at church that needs support, befriending a neighbor, mentoring a young person in your life.
What choice is God calling you to make in this season? Only He knows how it will change your life and the lives around you. When we follow, He leads us to beautiful places. When we are faithful to obey His directions, He is faithful to fulfill His purposes.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 (NLT)