By Hannah Kallio
I learned the hard way that I fall in love too easily. For starters, I have a thing for epic poetry and a long-standing crush on Italian (the language). So I may or may not have squealed when a copy of the Iliad in Italian turned up at the library a few weeks ago.
I love the Iliad. Each time I’ve read it, God has used it to play a pivotal role in my life—so much so that I credit it with saving my marriage (but that’s a story for another time).
If you’ve read it, you’ll remember that the Olympian gods and goddesses drive the plot forward again and again. Homer’s concept of divine intervention is drastically different from mine, but it’s fascinating to compare and contrast his perspective with a biblical worldview.
Imagine my horror when I read that the “brilliant” Italian scholar who translated this edition had the audacity to remove every single reference to the Olympian pantheon. He took divine intervention right out of the equation. I was livid until I realized how easy it is to do.
In my life the weeding out was much more subtle. I never wanted to write God out of my storyline. I wanted him to be the center and get all the glory, but as a new Christian, I was captivated by the idea of being a missionary. Then I fell for church planting. Mostly I craved adventure.
I wanted to obey God more than anything, but my desire for adventure made me question my motives with every new opportunity. Was I more in love with adventure than with him? This thing that made me who I am also made me suspect.
Then it all came crashing down.
Two years ago, we thought we were embarking on an adventure when we sold everything and moved overseas as missionaries. When the job we were promised (and the visas that went with it) didn’t materialize, we were a homeless and unemployed family of seven in a foreign country.
That’s when our epic adventure really began. We moved twenty times in seven months, set foot in six countries, and were forced to leave two of them, including my birthplace. God’s provision and direction were powerful and immediate during that time, but it still ended in brokenness.
I fell for the idea of church planting, the idea of missionary life, the idea of adventure. But somewhere between amoebic dysentery and nearby terror attacks, I realized something: they didn’t love me back.
Maybe my unrequited love for adventure did steer me wrong. I’m convinced it caused me to mistakenly shy away from opportunity at least as often as it caused me to mistakenly charge ahead. When something like this happens, what’s the solution?
When I tried to step back and view our misadventure from a distance, it took on a luminous, almost seductive quality. I began to fall for the wretched beauty of the story. This is the heart of the problem: too often I’ve gotten caught up in the epic story itself and allowed it to eclipse the author and finisher of the story. My revelation of God needs to be as vivid and immediate as the unlikely characters and crazy plot twists unfolding around me.
I can notice and nod appreciatively at the beauty in the story. But I can’t let my gaze linger there.
My recent brush with Homer’s words gave me a fresh way to examine my heart.
I won’t harbor my crush on exquisite sadness any longer. I’m determined to embrace both joy and sorrow when they come. I will sing tragic loss and epic adventure, but my affectionate gaze is reserved for their author instead.
Hannah Kallio is an Israeli who’s at home in France, Italy, and Minnesota. A homemaker who had it all, gave it all away, and lived out of a backpack. She loves one man, 5 kids, and the crazy story God is writing in their lives even more than palm trees, ancient ruins, and deepest dark chocolate. She writes, coaches, speaks, sings, and creates her guts out at hannahkallio.org.