It’s Not About You
We stood in the front of the bus as we rode home from our training facility. Our youngest child had just started crying out of sheer exhaustion from being an hour past her nap time, and my husband and I were conversing about how if we took her out of the stroller, we would have a difficult time getting our family off the bus. Just then, our conversation was interrupted by a hysterical woman at the back of the bus who was crying. I was in shock as I realized she was crying because of us…
“Please pick up the child”
“You are really upsetting me”
“You are abusing the child”
“Why won’t you do something? You are terrible parents”
“You are going to give the child Alzheimer’s by letting her cry.”
“Somebody call the police”
“You hate your child”
“Why don’t you love your child”…..
Her frantic cries were childlike in nature but shot with the precision of a skilled archer straight to my heart, wounding me with a paralyzing pain. Her frenzied behavior evoked anxiety deep within my heart and I braced myself out of fear that she would attack. I glanced at my husband with a look of distress and he calmly reassured me that it would be ok. My cheeks burned with the rosiness of humiliation and I could feel tears welling up in my eyes.
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” ~Proverbs 12:18
All eyes of that bus intently watched as we stood there and my heart became the dart board that caught her flying insults. I was caught in a whirlwind of insecurity as the bus driver fought back in our defense by yelling at the still frantically crying woman to mind her own business. I do not like confrontation and I never want to disappoint someone or cause someone to cry. Her insults grew more dramatic and the volume of her crying was disturbing. I felt wounded and hated but God was near. Though weary, my heart still had God given strength to hold up a shield of faith to guard me from completely crumbling in the stress of the moment…“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” Ephesians 16:6. He is always faithful and always good and in that moment, the Spirit whispered…
“Love those who hate you”
“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” ~Luke 6:27-28
This tired mama who is still trying to get the hang of sleeping very few hours at night and doing well at all that this new life of ministry entails was struggling to love this woman. I felt like a bad mom and I felt like my time on the bus had been wasted. We got off at our stop and as the cries of the woman could still be heard as the doors closed and the bus took off, I let my guard down and allowed the warm restrained tears to flow freely.
We walked across the street to our apartment and as I struggled to put my toddler to sleep, her cries were the harmony to my own. I was tired and as the baby finally gave up the battle and drifted off to sleep, I had made up my mind that I wasn’t going back out again to share the Gospel that day. My feelings were hurt and I was offended. The Spirit whispered…
“it’s not about you”
I’m going to curl up inside my room and sleep away this stress….
“It’s not about you”
I don’t have the strength to go out and engage strangers….
“You’re right, you don’t have the strength, but I do. It’s not about you”
“Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls. Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.”
~1 Peter 2:11-12
A battle raged inside of me, but I could
feel Love digging up the seed of bitterness that threatened to take root. With a heavy sigh, I submitted my heart to the Spirit of the Living God, and chose obedience over rebellion. My time here has taught me that sharing Jesus heals my heart from homesickness. As I pondered that, I started to wonder if sharing Jesus would also heal my wounded heart from the insults of strangers? I washed my face and pulled myself together. I remembered that I’m not here to do things for God, but rather to abide in Him and live a life that brings glory to Him. It’s all about pointing others to Him by the way that I treasure Him and make His name great. Crying at home and throwing myself a pity party was not me being out in the community making Him known. It’s all about Him, and what an amazing mystery it is, because as I focus my affection on Him, my joy and peace only increase. So, finally emptied of my own strength, I stepped out of my apartment in His. Walking in beautiful weakness, my prayer was simply: “Spirit lead me”
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
~2 Corinthians 12:9-12
“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” -Jesus (John 17:4)
I ended up with some fellow workers at a crowded coffee shop where internationals meet in order to practice their English through conversation. The majority of those practicing their English were Asian, but as I stood in line to buy a coffee, a different accent caught my attention directly behind me. I turned around and noticed a girl about my age who had just said it was her first time to come to the English program. I smiled as I asked her where she was from. When she told me, I could not believe it!! She was from the exact country and city that we will be moving to in Central Asian this October!! I have been searching and praying that the Lord would allow me to meet someone from our target people group while at training, but after failed efforts and being told that there are few people from that country here, I had started to give up hope.
I bought her latte and we sat down to get to know each other. We talked for three hours! She taught me all about the city we’ll be living in and made arrangements to take me around this fall! She is only visiting here for a couple months and then will be going back to Central Asia! She is exactly the same age as me and her cousins live in the same exact area of the city that we will be living in. She told me that she also has family living in Europe in the exact same European country that will be our home after we learn language in Central Asia. Her family is our exact assigned people group – Central Asians living in Europe!! Eventually she tells me that her dad has died. As I sat there and saw the sadness in her eyes as she stared at the floor, my heart was full and I knew I was in the exact spot on this earth that I was meant to be in. To know that you are walking in the will of the Father is a gift. Her dad’s death was the open door to share what Jesus has done in my life and who He is. You see, we understood each other. We’ve watched as our fathers have been buried and we’ve felt the agonizing grief of missing a loved one. She listened with an undivided attention as I described who Jesus is and what He has done for me in a way that Lord willing would reach the heart of a Muslim. Before the beginning of time, the Lord had plans to take a daughter that knows Him and lead her to a foreign land to run into a girl that He longs to call daughter…..a girl who needed to hear the Truth of who she is to Him. His plan is perfect and although it involves sorrow, is full of more joy than I can express. We exchanged information and we’ve agreed to meet again soon for coffee! Please pray for her!!
This could not have been an accident. What if I would have chosen my feelings over obedience to what God has called me to? When I was emptied of all my own strength and could see nothing but my inadequacy, it’s then that His strength and glory could be on display as the divine appointment took place. I’m not here for myself.
As the fellow worker and I headed home, we found ourselves at a busy bus station. As we stood among over 50 people and spoke of the sweet conversations we had just had, the same frantic lady from bus hours earlier ran up to us. I want you to hear me…..she didn’t run up to anyone but us and I stood there dumbfounded. My friend had no idea that this was the lady who had such an issue with my crying child earlier. She asked my friend if the wasps are going to kill her and then interrupts herself by saying:
“I don’t care if I die”
My friend then asked her if she believes in Jesus and she said in somewhat of an aggressive tone:
“I believe in Jesus. You (pointing to a little elderly woman who was from the Middle East and was eavesdropping on our conversation) do you want to talk about Jesus?”
In an attempt to lighten the mood of the conversation, my friend asked the elderly lady to join our conversation. As she smiled and stepped closer to us, the frantic lady started walking around, talking to herself about something that seemed to worry her. I whispered to my friend that the frantic lady was the same lady from the bus earlier in the day. All of the sudden, the lady looked straight at me and started crying and before running off said:
“are you laughing at me? You’re laughing at me”
As she ran off hysterically, we looked at the elderly lady, hoping either she already knew Jesus or that we could at least use the opportunity to tell her about Jesus. We got on the bus together and my friend and I sat by the elderly lady and her daughter who is about my age. As passengers loaded the bus, we were able to engage the women in a spiritual conversation pretty quickly! We learned they were from Iraq and have lived here a little over a year. The mother loves Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the daughter explained that Jesus was a good man but he never rose again after He died. Right as I started telling her that the Injil (what Muslims call the New Testament) says that Jesus is God’s son; that Jesus is God; that Jesus died for our sins; and that He rose again after 3 days, the same frantic lady GOT BACK ON THE BUS and sat directly across the aisle from us. I was about half way through telling these women the Gospel when the frantic lady stood up and started saying:
“I have to get off this bus! Driver, let me off this bus! Get me off this bus!….”
I still don’t understand what all was going on with this lady, but what I do know is that after our first encounter, I believed her lies about what kind of a mother I was. I almost allowed the pain from her remarks to cause me to stay home.
The second time I saw her, I realized that perhaps there is something wrong with her. As she acted strange, I felt a little silly for allowing her lies to hurt me so deeply. But isn’t that what we do with Satan? He is the father of all lies and he freely speaks them to us……and we listen. Why do we believe him? Why do we allow his lies to be such a stronghold in our lives? We allow his lies to overpower the Truth of who God is and who we are in Him when we don’t have to! We are on this earth to know Jesus and to glorify God. When we believe the lies of the enemy, we allow anxiety, fear, selfish ambition, worldly desires, and pride get in the way and before we know it, a life is wasted. Oh friends, our time is precious. Do not waste your life.
The third and final time I saw that lady was while I was proclaiming to the Iraqi ladies (and the others sitting around us) how Jesus conquered death! At the sound of Truth, she literally fled the scene. She got up and ran away as fast as she could. What a picture of how powerless the enemy is when the name of Jesus is spoken and when the Truth is believed and declared. My prayer is that the Lord would renew in me a steadfast spirit and help me to remember the Truth and boldly speak it when warfare is great. I can never thank you enough for praying for our family!
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” ~Romans 8:31
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” ~James 4:7
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” ~2 Corinthians 10:3-5