When she walked out wearing an apron with a towel flung over her shoulder I knew we were in for a special treat! It had been much too long since I had seen my friend Kim Whitaker. Meeting up with her again in her new part-time home in Italy made our visit most spectacular.
For a good 30 years, we shared church life. She entertained us all with her singing, hospitality, and knee-slapping humor. For several years, I had the privilege of teaching both of her sons in Sunday School. Unbeknownst to her, I’ve always been a bit envious of her flair for decorating a table and cooking mouth-watering dishes. I covertly became her student, studying her seemingly carefree style of entertaining. However, in the last decade or so, our personal lives slowly wrapped themselves around one other. After thunderous laughs and crying jags, we’ve jerked many an unsuspecting tissue from its box.
In Italy this past week, Kim graciously immersed Ron and me in Tuscan culture by introducing us to the Italian family she has grown to love. Surrounded in the splendor of rolling hills, a geometrically perfected vineyard, and what had to be one of God’s most artistic sunsets, we spent hours around their table enjoying appetizers, mushroom tortellini, pot roast, and vegetables.
Yet perhaps, the after-dinner conversation gently massaged my emotions more than anything. You see, Kim is a modern-day Joseph. She has endured times of testing and tribulation and come out the other side stronger, more resilient, and more certain of the power of the Holy Spirit. Like Joseph in the last chapters of Genesis, she has experienced God’s overwhelming presence and the peace that comes after totally surrendering. Unlike many who only know the love of God and the grace of Jesus, Kim has enjoyed the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit. She pays attention when He speaks. She lets Him lead the way. She understands that life is better when His plan is followed, no matter where that may lead – even if it leads to Italy! Without a doubt, like Joseph in Genesis 50:20, she knows that the things that caused her harm have supernaturally worked together for good!
Sunday morning, we took communion together in a vineyard with four of her friends who had booked her as their tour guide. Standing there among the vines, we clung more tightly to Jesus, our Vine. Now, more than ever, I am encouraged to abide closer to Jesus, revel in God’s love, and hand over to the Holy Spirit whatever control I foolishly think I might have– once and for all.
Kim has a new book, Finding the Pieces, that will be coming out soon. She graciously allowed me to read a few chapters along the way as she was writing. It whetted my appetite for so much more. Her writing displays a magnificent cast of characters and experiences whom God expertly choreographed convincing her of His overwhelming love for her. In return, Kim graciously lavishes that same love on everyone she meets. You can learn more about her adventures and tours in Italy as well as updates on her book by following Kim Whitaker on Facebook. Or, you can subscribe to Perfection Road (www.perfectionroad.com/blog), and I will be sure to let you know when the book comes out.
While in Italy, Ron and I soaked in all the sights. We beheld the beauty of St. Patrick’s Basilica, stood where the gladiators stood in the Colosseum, beheld the work of Michelangelo, leaned with the tower of Pisa, watched waves lap the Italian coastline, walked through the walled city of San Gimignano, wandered through Sienna, and lazily floated down the Grand Canal on a gondola in Venice. But perhaps nothing compares to the work God has done in and through the life of my friend Kim. She is God’s masterpiece whom He created in advance to do incredibly more than she could have ever asked or imagined.
And He can do the same for you!
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV)