1 John says we love Him because He first loved us. Until we know the love and grace of God, we cannot fully, deeply love Him in return. Once we have experienced His contagious love, we find ourselves giving our lives away to Him, because it’s all we can do in light of His passion. Bethany’s story of surrender challenged me to ask what kind of life I am living. Is it one that flows from a life of knowing and resting in the love of God for me?
The first time she showed up at my front door, we were 15 and she was carrying Romeo and Juliet under her arm. Bethany and I were both homeschooled, and she was joining the literature group my mom led. That was the year we studied Shakespeare…and the year we created a home video of a modern-day comedy based on “Romeo and Juliet.” (Oh yes, that was also the year Bethany and her sister somehow got out of performing in that homemade comedy that was played on our public access TV station.) Bethany and I lost touch after that year of “thee’s” and “thou’s” but reconnected a couple summers ago. Sitting in her father’s church we talked about boys, waiting for our ever-after love, our dreams for the future, etc. She had just returned from spending a few months in Mozambique and was considering moving there indefinitely. Having graduated from Oral Roberts University with a degree in international community development, Bethany has now let go of everything she had here in the States to move to an African village and work with orphans. Her dedicated passion is an inspiration to me, and I hope it will be to you as well, as she shares her own story of surrender…
Favorite color: Like em all – blue I guess
Favorite food: Anything Thai
Describe yourself/life in 3 words: The unexpected adventure
What you want to do with your life: Live like Jesus – “the word made flesh”
One interesting fact about you: I´ve caught an alligator with my bare hands
Most dangerous thing you’ve ever done: Scaled a waterfall without ropes
Favorite quote: “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.” ~ Mother Teresa
Favorite Bible verse: Isaiah 41:8-9
What is one secret to living life as a woman of God in today’s world? Surrender
“I’m All In” by Bethany Walton
It was eight o’clock. I had just put the kids to bed and walked a little slower to my room, enjoying the rare silence in the center. I pulled out my Bible and started to read in Matthew, then Isaiah. Regardless of the chapter, the message was the same: “lay it all down and I will bless you.” To the western mind, I already had. After all, didn’t I sell my car, drop the cell phone plan, and move to an African village to work with orphans? But living in a village for almost a year has taught me a lot about what it means to have nothing. Truly nothing. I looked at the item of “value” in front of me . . . it’s over four years old so I doubt it has value on ebay but I use it constantly. Wouldn’t He want me to keep them to continue the programs I run? Is there anyone who would use it as much? If there’s anything I’ve learned it’s to trust the voice of God. I started to make a pile of clothes, books, and shoes. Just before turning out the light, I gingerly laid my laptop on top of the pile.
The next day I had to go to the city to get supplies for the kids so I stopped to use the internet. The first email was from someone I’ve met only once. “I want to buy you a laptop,” it started . . . I had to put on my sunglasses to try to hide the tears that were quickly filling my eyes and escaping down my cheeks. The email was dated three days before I had told God I’d give mine away.
I’ve learned that when I surrender my meager loaves and fish, God gives twelve basketfuls back and a chance to be a part of a miracle. Living in an African village was never a part of my life plan. I remember the night God asked me to trust Him with my life. “I can’t,” I whispered under my breath. “It’s too hard. I can’t move here by myself. I can’t learn another language. I don’t have the money. Lord, I have no idea how to do all of the projects you’re asking me to do. I can’t raise forty orphan boys. I can’t.” The answer resonated clearly in my spirit. “I know you can’t. That’s why you need me. I can.” Saying “yes” to God was the best decision I ever made. The great thing is, whether you’re in your parents’ basement or on the moon, the principle remains the same. It is always about our response to the simple, daily, insignificant tasks He asks us to do, that allow us to partake in His larger purpose.
I don’t gamble and don’t play poker. But I’ve seen enough of it to know that when someone says, “I’m all in,” things get interesting. The person pushes all their chips into the center of the table, willing to risk it all in confidence that they will walk away with more. Someone shifts nervously in their chair. Another throws their cards down and leaves the room. Then all eyes shift to the last ones playing, wondering if they will match it, and play to the end. Two thousand years ago, Christ went all in. All bets off, He came in human form, risking it all because He was confident that He was getting a better deal in us. I find Christ constantly challenging me to follow suit – to push my “chips” into the middle of the table even when it goes against every grain within me. I’m a saver. I like plans. Just ask my parents which of their children would still have their Easter candy at Christmas and birthday money the following year. I don’t like relinquishing control and trusting God even if I know He created me and has better plans for my life. But deep down I know following God is the safest place I can be. Unlike poker, there is no risk. In fact there’s more risk in following my own plans than giving God my life. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to save His life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it” (Luke 9:24). I hope that with me, you’re learning to say, “Here goes nothi . . . everything. I’m all in.”
For Devo #6, click here!