By Kari Miller
Over the last year, I have left the familiar in pursuit of the unknown. I have embraced the wildness of God and accepted his invitation to the journey of a lifetime. I followed God into places where I cant predict what will happen next and where I have given up all pretenses of being in control. In order to be intimate with Jesus I decided to loosen my grip on the life I had created for myselfto watch it all fall away, until everything I had defined myself with was gone.
I sold my house. I left my job. I left my friends. I left my community. I left my country. I left my dog. Suddenly, there I was stripped clean. It was then that God began to show me how he defined me. Now that I had lost my life, I finally began to find it.
Beloved. First and foremost, I am loved from the top of my head to the tip of my toes, from the dark recesses of my soul to my bubbly exterior. I am loved deeply and completely. God has imprinted me on the palm of hand and I am the apple of his eye. I left for Uganda early last spring with no idea what I would do and who I would meet. The more I gave up control, the more God created the most amazing ways to care for me. My first day in Uganda, a dear woman of God took me into her home. She cooked for me, taught me to wash my clothes and anticipated my every need. Her hospitality felt like the very hands of Jesus wrapped around me. God then introduced me to others who loved me so deeply and completely, that I saw Gods love in ways that have changed me forever. That beautiful love has altered the course of my life. Those last months in Uganda, I was bathed in love and it was both overwhelming and intoxicatingly beautiful.
Lover. Because I am loved so deeply, God has allowed me to love those he loves. Shortly after arriving in Uganda, I met Joyce, a widow who loves her fellow widows. I spent time with her. I began to know her, and then I began to love her. She then introduced me to 120 other beautiful widows who my heart also loved. Most of these women are refugees from the war in the north and have witnessed atrocities we cant even imagine. Half of these women are HIV positive and all of them are caring for 5 or more children. They are desperately poor and as of January 31, 2008 they will be kicked off the land they are living on now. I know this because I spent time with each of them in their homes. I listened, I prayed with them, I gave them money when they were sick, I laughed with them, I walked with them, and I held them as they cried. I am committed to standing with them in good times and bad, in sickness and in health as now their happiness is wrapped up in mine. I am in a love relationship with them and it is one of the hardest and most beautiful things I have ever done.
Conqueror. Fear will no longer rule, for I am more than a conqueror with Jesus by my side. I used to get afraid.of so many things. I was afraid that I was unlovable. I was afraid of failure. I was afraid to leave the comfort of my life. But, now I am no longer afraid. Sometimes, I think fear is a lot like the wizard behind the curtain. In Oz he made things look bigger and scarier then they really are, however when Dorothys little dog exposed him for who he was; fear ceased to existit lost all its power. This year fear lost a lot of its power over my life. Now, with the deadline for the widows quickly approaching and no land to purchase in sight, I am resisting the temptation to be afraid. God said that we will be conquerors, so conquerors we will be. Fear is now making this situation seem big and scary, but God will show us whats behind the curtain and fear will loose its power! I really have no idea how this will all resolve itself in the next couple of weeks, but I am certain God does.
Communicator. God told me to go to Uganda and listen. He wanted to show himself through the least, the lost and the left out. So, when I arrived, I listened and then wrote down the stories of Gods incredible grace and mercy. I wrote about widows who watched as the rebels slaughtered their loved ones, I wrote about former child soldiers who were crying out to God for strength and healing, I wrote about women who were infected with HIV by husbands who created on them, I wrote about widows who were rescued by the miraculous hand of God. I felt like there were so many stories and not enough time to tell them all. I am incredibly humbled and honored (and frankly somewhat perplexed), that Jesus chose me to be his storyteller. It is my greatest joy and deepest expression of my love for my savior.
So now after traveling deep into the brush of the unknown, I have caught a glimpse of who God has created me to be. It is not all I will be, nor all that I am now, but I much prefer lover to homeowner; beloved to suburbanite; conqueror to safe living; and communicator to silent observer. In 2007, I learned to live, really, really live. I lost everything, but gained more than I ever had before.
How about you? Will you wander into Gods wildness in 2008? Be advised: it will be dangerous, but you just might find yourself.
Kari Miller is a 4th grade teacher who is passionate about loving Jesus and loving others. She longs to inspire others to love the least, the lost and the left out. She spent five months in Uganda last year and is planning to go back permanently in February.