As a girl, she lived in a beautiful kingdom, surrounded by a wall, where everyone was rich. The people of the town were told of the evils outside of the wall, and were warned never to depart from its safety. But despite her abundant riches, the young girl was sad. Eventually she leaves the kingdom to pursue her purpose in life. Once she arrives outside the wall, she witnesses great poverty, but experiences great kindness and generosity. Her eyes were opened to the suffering of others while she lived in abundance inside her kingdom's walls, and she was compelled to make a difference.
It's interesting that I would happen to pull this book off of the library shelves to read to my daughter at this time. I am currently engaged in a women's bible study where we are working through Mark Batterson's study Chase the Lion. We are also reading Dangerous Surrender by Kay Warren.
Chase the Lion is a unique study; not at all what I am accustomed to or prefer in a Bible study. More than studying biblical passages inductively, the author is challenging us to act on what the Bible says, what I already know really. Rather than store up more head knowledge, I am being challenged to:
- defy odds
- face fears
- overcome adversity
- embrace uncertainty
- take risks
- seize opportunities and
- look foolish
Makes you want to run right out and buy the study, doesn't it? Hardly! These things have been uncomfortable and stretching, but God is challenging, blessing, and encouraging me as I press on. While I wrestle through the tough questions to which I don't even want to honestly write the answers in my workbook, I am being confronted with my own pride, insecurities, fear, and failures; all the while being encouraged that God is greater and through Him I can overcome all these things.
Dangerous Surrender has paralleled the study in many ways. Kay Warren's honesty and vulnerability in sharing her inspiring story of how she said yes to God and embraced the cause of HIV/AIDS patients in Africa has challenged me to look beyond the walls that protect my own affluence, and open my eyes to the plight of others. Just as the young quiltmaker could not see the suffering of those outside the kingdom walls and return to her riches, Kay challenges me to be "gloriously ruined," unable to live a life of abundance (running water, electricity, a pantry/fridge full of food, closets full of clothes, cell phone, cable tv, internet, computers...) while others live wounded by violence, in pain and suffering that my mind can not even comprehend, without the hope of the Gospel to sustain them.
Before I joined this study, God was already paving the way for these lessons as I had recently read another book which challenged me similarly. K.P. Yohannan's Revolution for World Missions began to open my eyes to the plight of the "two-thirds world." His challenge when he looked at the affluence of the American church was to recognize WHY God has blessed us so abundantly. The reason is so that we can bless others. His recommendation is to support native missionaries in Asia and around the world who are willingly living in poverty along with those to whom they are ministering. Kay's book takes it a step farther, to not only send others, supporting them financially, but to surrender your own life as well, just as the quiltmaker ended up doing.
Sadly, though the young quiltmaker wanted to make a difference, the elders of the kingdom chided her for it. They refused to participate in aiding the poor who surrounded their city. As it turns out, they had built the wall just so they wouldn't have to see them. I want to be like the girl, but I fear I am too often like the elders.
What walls have I built to protect my comfortable way of life?
What walls have I built to keep out the unsightly, distasteful images of those who have less than I?
How often have I turned a blind eye when others were in need?
Through K.P. Yohannon's book, Chase the Lion, Kay Warren's testimony, and now a beautifully illustrated storybook, God is challenging me to tear down those protective walls, open my eyes, and to surrender my life to the cause of Christ in serving and ministering to the least of these. I do not yet know what that looks like for me, but wherever He leads, I'm going!!!
Will you join me?
Grace and Peace,