It is not often I have found myself teary-eyed when reading through a book. In fact, I’m not sure I can even recount a specific time when this happened. Until this last week. I cracked open the book I had previously judged by the cover. Kisses From Katie? I assumed it was one of those books designed to place guilt on all of the American believers still living in America, a book designed to question why we had not sold our possessions and moved half-way across the world to help the poor and needy. But what I found filling those pages was much different, much more attractive, and much more inspiring than the guilt trip I expected to receive.
I would never consider myself a reader, though the older I get, the more value I find in it. As a child, I can remember my mom encouraging us to spend some quiet time reading before beginning our day. In my mind, reading was academic and reading was most certainly not an option during the summer! For this reason, I ashamedly admit that I was always the girl who could not understand why a middle school kid would walk around the store reading a book, following his mom as she shopped for groceries…I thought, “Wow! That poor kid has no idea how many of his favorite snacks he could be sneaking into the cart right now because he’s too busy with that book.”
Yesterday, I became that kid. I agreed to walk into Office Max as my mom insisted this was a great opportunity to assist the computer illiterate. I considered this a great sacrifice since I desperately wanted to stay in the car to finish my book. Realizing I had no option but to bring the book in with me, I chuckled. For the first time in 27 years I was walking around in public and reading at the same time. I didn’t know whether to feel scared or accomplished! Perhaps it was the heart of humility that drew me in, or maybe the profound wisdom wrapped in expressions of love, but it was most assuredly the demonstration of big, bold faith.
In James chapter two, the writer urged the Jewish community of believers to consider how their actions were a ultimately a representation of their faith. Verses 14-26 are filled with examples as James seeks to communicate this important truth. He points to Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation. In Genesis 15:22, God makes a promise to Abraham saying, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them…so shall your offspring be.” Fast forward to Genesis 22:2 where God tells Abraham, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I shall tell you.”
Pause for a moment.
Can you imagine the thoughts that likely went through Abraham’s mind? “My only son…God? Don’t you remember that promise you made me? You said that I was going to be a father of a nation. What will my son think of you, what will he think of me, when he realizes he is to be the sacrifice?”
Who knows what Abraham’s thoughts really were in that moment. Scripture does not tell us. What it does tell us, is that Abraham responded with action. His faith was demonstrated by obedience to God as he arose early the next morning to gather wood for the sacrifice, continuing to worship despite the thoughts that likely ran through his mind, despite his questions, despite the fact that it simply did not make sense.
As he prepared to sacrifice his son, he heard the angel of the Lord say, “Abraham! Abraham! Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son from me (v.11-12).”
What do we learn about Abraham from this account? He loved his son, but his love for God was greater. He valued that relationship, but he valued his relationship with Christ more. His faith was so great that he was willing not to keep what he loved from God, but to give what he loved to God. Through this act of faith, Abraham learned even more about the character of our Lord. He learned that God provides in the most unexpected times, he learned that He can be trusted even when circumstances don’t make sense, and he learned that he is faithful to fulfill His promises.
God desires to bless his children, but sometimes in order to receive that blessing we must take a courageous step. A step indicating our answer is “yes,” a step indicating we believe God is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do. When our faith becomes more important than people’s doubts or opinions, when our faith becomes greater than our fears, when our faith makes a fool of what makes sense, it is then I believe God takes what is ordinary to prove that He alone is extraordinary.
In her book, Kisses From Katie, Katie puts it this way:
“I realize that since I have chosen an unusual path it is easier for outsiders to look at my life and come to the conclusion that it is something extraordinary. That I am courageous. That I am strong. That I am special. But I am just a plain girl from Tennessee. Broken in many ways, sinful, and inadequate. Common and simple with nothing special about me. Nothing special except I choose to say, ‘yes.’ ‘Yes’ to the things God asks of me and ‘yes’ to the people He places in front of me. You can too. I am just an ordinary person. An ordinary person serving an extraordinary God…I want to give everything, no matter the cost. No matter the cost. Because I believe that nothing is a sacrifice in light of eternity with Christ (Davis, 118, 232).
No, my sister in Christ is not trying to convince people to move to Uganda and care for the poor, but rather to inspire her fellow believers to perhaps the greatest act of faith…saying “yes” to God by walking with Him daily and serving Him faithfully right where you are. So may our faith be action that makes a difference in the lives of people, for one life changed is worth it all.