There aren’t too many people I can happily talk with during a long, steep hike out of a wadi in Israel — but Katie Reid is one of those people. We survived the hike, gasped for breath at the end, took a picture in an attempt to mark the moment and show the depth of the valley, and then continued talking. Because there’s always more to say and share, and I’m telling you Katie is not only kind and a good listener, but a champion of others. We spent two weeks together in Israel last summer, and it’s my joy to welcome Katie to the blog today.
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. (John 4:28-30)
“Want to come to Israel?”
Her life had been deeply impacted by her sandaled feet walking on the sacred ground that was once beneath her Savior’s feet.
She had been changed, so she invited others to come and see for themselves. The stories from her trip surfaced in bits and bursts, yet it was evident there was a weight to them . . . not a heaviness but an awe, a weight of story and glory . . . that could be partially felt but best experienced for oneself.
On the other side of her invitation was a heart, whose soil had been prepared to answer, “yes.”
Two different stories, intersecting at the corners, leading both to walk with sandaled feet in the dust and heat of the Holy Land.
Kaitlyn extended her invitation to many, via her lovely Instagram feed, “Want to come to Israel?” After years of God whispering that I was to go someday, I answered the invitation with “yes.”
Kaitlyn’s invitation provided others with the opportunity to respond as God led.
Never underestimate the power of an invitation.
Last June, I boarded a plane headed to Tel Aviv, by way of Rome. As the sea blended into the western border of the Promised Land, in some ways I felt like I was coming home. Maybe it was because a copy of Made Like Martha was tucked in my carry-on and Martha was once native to this land, or maybe it was because I grew-up reading in the Bible about this far-off place that was now coming into focus? But mostly, it was my heart responding to the One who invited me to say yes to a journey with Him . . . not just to this trip, but to a life of faith—following His steps, over rugged terrain and stunning beauty, through valleys and vistas, that one day will lead Home.
While I hope you can travel to see Israel for yourself one day, that’s not the point. The point is—the prayer is—the plea is—will you say yes to Jesus’ invitation? To go when He says go, to stay when He says stay, to follow in His steps even when it’s scary, or lonely, or uncomfortable, to find Him in the thick of it?
And will you invite others to do the same? Will you share your story of what God has done in, through, and around you?
As I wrote this, I hopped over to Kaitlyn’s Instagram feed to do a little fact-checking, and there was this quote from Eugene Peterson, “Stories are verbal acts of hospitality.”
Yes, that’s it.
Kaitlyn’s invitation was an act of hospitality to the soul . . . deep calling to deep, through a simple, weighty question, “Want to come to Israel?”
It wasn’t just an invitation to travel, it was an invitation to become more of who He’s made me to be and, more importantly, to discover more of who He is.
As we share what God has done for us and is doing through us, we pull up a chair for one another . . . making room at the table of testimony, lending our ear to hear what is shared. Over pita and hummus, we tell of His goodness, we wrestle with questions, we demonstrate hospitality to one another’s soul, inviting them to join in—a part of the story much bigger than us.
God can do much through a simple invitation.
In John 4, an invitation altered a woman’s life forever.
So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?
“Will you give me a drink?” He asked. And the rest is history (literally). See John 4:4-26.
This question led to a revelation that went well beneath the surface—straight into the depths of her heart. An invitation to become a conduit of Living Water.
John 4:39-42 explains:
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.
They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
It’s one thing to listen to someone else give account of an amazing experience. It’s another thing to experience it for yourself.
And there, last summer, in the heat of the Holy Land, I understood—no longer just taking Kaitlyn’s word for it, but encountering for myself the hushed and holy, present in hues of desert beige, olive green, and smoky blue, on the other side of the world . . . on the other side of her invitation.
She invited me to more of Jesus . . . and He delivered on the promise.
I’m so glad Katie said yes. I’m not kidding when I tell you that we often message each other some form of “I’m really missing Israel today” or “So I was thinking about _____” (fill in the blank with a place in Israel) or “What if we went back? For real. Let’s find a way.”
I’ve been twice now, but it was a gift to experience Israel with a friend—to see in her eyes my own first-time wonder and awe from two years earlier, to process and dream together, to bring the bound and printed pages of our stories to the Holy Land.
If you’d like to learn more about either book, I’ve included a brief description below:
Made Like Martha: Good News for the Woman Who Gets Things Done is invitation for overachievers to discover what it means to rest as God’s daughters without compromising their God-given design as doers.
Though she didn’t sit at Jesus’s feet like her sister Mary, biblical Martha was loved just as she was—and you are too. This practical resource invites modern-day Marthas to sit down spiritually as they exchange try-hard striving for hope-filled freedom without abandoning their doer’s heart in the process.
Doers need to be affirmed in their innate design to do rather than sit, yet also be reminded that they don’t have to overdo it in order to be worthy. This book is not an exhortation to add or subtract things off your to-do list, but an invitation to embrace the “good” of the Good News. Here is an offer to step into your position as a daughter of God and to enjoy life as a doer.
Even If Not: Living, Loving, and Learning in the in Between is for the ones in the middle of the story, the ones who made plans, set goals and dreamed big dreams, but then life happened and well, now what?
Where do you turn and how do you live in the middle of depression or a health scare, when relationships fall apart or the unknown looms ahead and you don’t know which way to go? Even If Not is a journey through the in between and a dare to whisper those three little words, no matter what season you find yourself in. It’s an invitation to let go of trying to figure out the ending of your story and instead lean into the faithfulness of God.
With honest and vulnerable storytelling from her own in betweens, Kaitlyn encourages you to say—no matter what page of the story you find yourself on—that although you believe God could come through how you’re asking, you’ll trust Him . . . even if not.
To connect with Katie, visit her blog or follow her on Instagram. Thank you for sharing a small glimpse into how Israel impacted you, Katie. I know this is just the beginning of the stories to come . . . when we finally find the words, right? In the mean time, let’s find a way to go back.
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What a beautiful story and a reminder to invite people into our lives and into a new place with Jesus. Thanks and blessings to you both!
Thank you, Alice. Hope you are having a great week.
You’re speaking my language, both of you! Will share.
Thanks so much, Sue!
Oh, friend! So grateful for your invitation…both to the Holy Land and also to share about the experience right here, in your online home.
Katie recently posted…How an Invitation is an Act of Hospitality