Sometimes, there are things I read which must be shared. A full year after writing my last blog post, the words of Katie Davis Majors have compelled me to write again. Katie, whose first book ignited the spark in my heart for foreign missions, for loving those in distant lands, who led me to Engineering Ministries International and through them, to her home of Uganda (to read more about that story, click here), has again penned a story that speaks right to my heart.
So much has happened in my life over the past 12 months, a semester in Rome, a work term in Prince Edward Island, and the completion of my final term of architecture school and my undergraduate degree. There is so much I could’ve written about, but never made time to. Now that I’ve been selected as a member of the launch team for Katie’s new book, Daring to Hope, I vowed to spread the word in as many ways possible, which includes my blog. And oh, how I want to share this with you.
Given the current state of the world, the tag line of Daring to Hope might hook you on its own: How do you hold on to hope when you don’t get the ending you asked for? But just in case it doesn’t, let me share what a gift, yet again, Katie’s book has been to me, and so many others who are also part of this launch team.
This is a story of hope, as you may have surmised from the title, and of healing. It is a testament to the faithfulness of the Father. Katie shares her heart, revealing parts of her journey as a mom and missionary over the past ten years in Uganda, striving to find joy in situations that seem hopeless and dark, when prayers were not answered in desired ways, and stories had hard and unexpected endings. This story is much more about God’s faithfulness in the everyday, than it is about a radical missionary in Uganda. It speaks to everyone. It’s about the ways the Lord can work in extroardinary ways through simple acts of faith, icing cupcakes, reading with your children, laughing over bowls of spaghetti, replacing a bandage, mopping the floor. It’s about the healing power of gratitude when we give thanks for the seemingly insignificant, and creating beauty from ashes.
“Some blessings were big and some were small, but there was no denying that they were everywhere. I knew His presence in a way that I had not known previously. Gratitude was healing me. Giving thanks to the One who both gives and takes away, and remains my Saviour in either circumstance, refocused my eyes and made me strong…. Gratitude brought me into communion with God.”
“Our God is not too big for the small and is glorified in our ordinary moments as we invite Him in.”
Katie is often called brave. I have also been called brave, for the choices I have made and the places I have gone (though they have been far less radical than Katie’s), in my striving to follow the will of the Lord. But what we long for you to know, is that Jesus is the one who makes us brave. We are only brave because we have a Father who we know will never let us down, who is always there when we collapse in weariness, who is our guiding hand when we don’t know which way to turn. He is relentless in His pursuit of us. I trust my Father more than I trust myself. This is what it means to be a “prisoner of hope“, to trust Him even when we can’t see any good resolution. Katie puts words to this beautifully, “… I do not know His ways, but I know Him. I know Him”. Christ is our bravery and our courage. He is our strength.
Something that has always struck me most about Katie is her openess to community, to welcoming everyone into her home, whether it’s convenient or not, whether she wants to or not. In Daring to Hope, she writes, “our house is always full, but it never really feels too small. Over the years we have made a habit, a lifestyle really, of opening the doors wide even when we feel like we can’t possibly stretch any more, of making ourselves available to those God brings into our loves and all the ways He might show us His goodness as we open our arms to Him and to others… He has filled our lives and our home with beautiful, broken people, and He has shown Himself to be the God who mends the broken and uses the cracks to reveal His glory.” Isn’t that beautiful? I long to have a home like this. It’s what God calls us to, this sharing of lives, this openess to others, but it is hard and often inconvenient.
Daring to Hope is a testament to the ways the Lord is working through one woman’s willingness to trust in Him and take the next step, and who He has shown Himself to be amidst the pain and heartbreak, because He can work everything for good, even the most horrific and tragic circumstances. That is the major message of the book, “that we would know the true Hope found only in His Son Jesus, the Lamb, who never, ever stops reaching out for us, who cups out pain in His nail-scarred palms and cradles our hearts close to His. He wants to be our reward.”
“No one loves wounds… But when we love our Saviour we can trust that sometimes the ugliness of life draws us to Him.”
All of us know trials in our lives. In the loss of classmates and loved ones, and struggles with depression and loneliness, I have known sorrow and despair, but these experiences have also given me an intimacy with the Lord that I couldn’t have experienced any other way. I don’t enjoy the pain, but I thank Him for grieving with me and for His heart breaking with mine. He never leaves us. “In our pain, He is near.” As Katie writes, “He has taught me His secrets in the darkness. He has taught me true and unwavering hope in Him.”
Katie talks a lot about hard goodbyes in this book. Over the past five years of university, moving to a new city every four months, Christ has shown me how to be open to love, to share my heart with others, even knowing, in such a short time I would have to say goodbye, even when it felt like I was ripping off little pieces of my heart as I boarded each plane and that in spite of promises to keep in touch, with most, the relationships and closeness would never be the same again. It is hard. The goodbyes don’t get easier, but I have learned, in the stretching and the breaking, that it is worth it, every time. With each new friendship, each life that crosses paths with our own, we have the priviledge of bearing witness to another’s story, even if just for a short time, and in so doing, as Katie says, we bear witness to God. To the unique way He reveals Himself in each of us.
“‘I know you are tired, child, but I am not. I do not grow tired. I will never become weary. Lean on me, for in your weakness, I am strong.’
‘I believe in you,’ I whisper.
‘It’s enough, child,’ He answers.”
This book sings of His faithfulness. It seeps through every crack and crevice, every one of Katie’s stories, and the stories of others woven into hers, in the cracking open of Scripture, and the insights shared.
“Certainly God places each of us in situations that, though others look on with support and love, they cannot fully understand. In the past year, loss and life had left a big void that only He could fill, and He did. In His presence, I didn’t have to explain mysef or recount the struggles of the day; I didn’t have to describe my feelings in all their complexity. He knew. I didn’t have to sumon up trite answers or insincere piety. He knew me, and He loved me, and I could rest in Him even when my mind raced.”
I could go on. I swear I have underlined half of this book. There’s a lot to soak in. I’ve already been through it twice. I will not reveal the closing lines, though they are my favourite, because they will be more impactful after you have read the whole book. They sent shivers down my spine as I let them soak in. I hope you will discover them for yourselves, dear friends, and let these words of hope and healing wash over you.
Katie’s book, Daring to Hope, comes out exactly two weeks from today, and is available for pre-order now!