Learning Reliance

“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance…” Romans 1:16, AMP

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“Want to come to my house,” I asked the Muslim girl from my language class.

Of course,” she replied.

My mind was weary from 4 hours of language school, but my heart saw a lonely one who is hungry for family.  And as we walked on the small cobble stone streets, dodging buses and stray dogs that stretch out on the sidewalks like they own the place, she held my hand and my desire for personal space was challenged.  In fact, it’s constantly challenged.  Her culture holds hands and locks arms and my culture believes in the personal bubble that you dare not pop.  I focused hard on her stories which flowed from a closed heart that through the love of Jesus has begun to open up, all the while desperately wishing she would just stop holding my hand.  God’s grace gave me the strength to lay aside what feels natural for me for the sake of gaining one’s trust and being allowed the rare privilege into her world – a very dark and lonely one.

She told me how much weight she has gained and how she is so upset that she is too big in her own eyes…

“Why do you want to lose weight? I think you are beautiful just the way you are”  I told her

“No, no I’m not,”  she said.  “If I’m smaller, I will be beautiful.”

That was the open door.  Part of walking in the Spirit is listening and watching and waiting until He can guide you on taking a normal conversation and turning into a spiritual one.  I was scared to death but she lives on the wide road headed for eternal death, so again, God’s grace gave me the strength to press on through my shyness and speak the Truth.

You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” -Jesus (Matthew 7:13-14, NLT)

I told her the story of when I was about her age back in college.  I told her I was obsessed with losing weight because I thought I would be beautiful and how through reading the Bible and discovering that God sees me as beautiful, I found true freedom.  Her silence screamed awkwardness, but I know my comfort is not what I am called to. And so we kept walking and I kept praying that He would show me what to do and what to say.

We got on the bus together and sat down side by side.  She laid her covered head on top of my long, wavy, exposed hair that was draped over my shoulder, and this is how we rode for the following hour back to my house.  What a sight we were.  The Muslim girl held onto the Jesus girl’s arm and rested securely on her shoulder, breaking the normal mold of covered girls sit by covered girls and uncovered girls sit by uncovered girls.  Again, I felt awkward and could see the curious eyes all around staring at us.

“Father, help me do this.  I have no idea what I am doing,”  my heart whispered to the One who never leaves me.

As we sat there, looking out the window and talking about all kinds of things, I contemplated how I am doing something that I have never actually seen anyone do in person.  I have never seen another woman share about God with a Muslim woman first hand, and I have never watched another woman invite a Muslim into her home and share the Gospel with her.  Because I have no model to look to, I often wonder what in the world I am doing.  But what I do know is that I love Jesus with all my heart and I want others to know Him too.  I know I am not the first to ever feel like they don’t know how to speak or what to say.  I find great comfort in the story of Moses…

“But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” ~Exodus 4:10-12

We arrived at my house, walked through the door, and were met by our new nanny.  Just that morning, she had asked my husband if she could read the Christian books on our book shelf! As she and I sat on the couch and in her language discussed her taking one of the Christian books home with her, the Muslim girl started looking through the books on my bookshelf too. Just as the nanny and I were talking about the friend of mine who taught me the Bible back in America, the Muslim girl interrupted…

“What’s this book about?” she asked

I saw a Beth Moore Bible study in her hand and said “Oh it’s a book that helps you study the Bible and teaches you how to follow Jesus.”

“I don’t believe in that,” she said abruptly as she literally threw the book down.

Breathe….breathe….Father help…

I have only been here 4 months and I found myself trying to explain Jesus in a foreign language with someone who seems very interested while another lost girl rejected Jesus very openly….all simultaneously.  It was a lot and I just kept thinking “what am I doing?” I smiled at the new nanny and continued talking to her, giggling at my language skills, or lack of language skills I should say, and chose to trust that God was still with me. My home was full of lost women – I knew I was at least on the right path.

I did the best I could with what I had.  I knew in that moment that although I may not be doing a good job by my standards, I could look back and say that I did all I knew to do.  I know this is practice and I know I am brand new at all of this. I gave the book to the nanny and as she hugged me and kissed my cheeks I prayed that God would open her eyes and lead her to Truth.

As the nanny left, the Muslim girl and I retreated to my kitchen to cook dinner together. We browned meat and stirred the soup that simmered over an open flame.  It didn’t take long for her to slowly but surely start opening up about her life back home.  She told me details of her controlling father and how she is so depressed that she didn’t eat anything last weekend.

“Here we go again….help me Father…fill me with Your words” I prayed silently as my own hope burned brightly and I just knew this was another open door.

As my kids took turns running through the kitchen, grabbing slices of cheese from the fridge and tattling on one another, I told her how I too know what it’s like to be depressed and hopeless.  Following my own story, I told her about how Jesus makes a way where we don’t have to be depressed.  I told her His story and how he can give us joy that circumstances cannot take away.

“Does that makes sense?” I asked her

“Umm, no not really,” she said honestly

I smiled and just kept cooking and listening as she continued to pour her heart out.  I was discouraged but never lost hope in the promises of God…

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” ~Isaiah 55:9-11

The rest of the evening went well.  Our family sat at the table and held hands with the Muslim girl as we prayed and thanked God for our food.  She pulled me aside after dinner and said my husband was a really good father and that he was very different from her own.  I sighed with satisfaction as I heard her words, knowing that even though parts of the day with her had seemed discouraging, she was still seeing His Light shine. Our time together so far has challenged me and taught me so much – specifically the importance of relying on God.  If anything, I am learning that I personally have no power to change this girl’s heart and free her from literally years of brainwashing.  I can’t, but God can! This friend is challenging me as I am learning the absolute necessity of moment by moment reliance on His all sufficient grace as I speak Truth in the moments that He wills.

“What time I am afraid, I will have confidence in and put my trust and reliance in You.” ~Psalm 56:3, AMP

Please pray that as I continue to be around this girl 20 plus hours a week, that my speech would be sprinkled with salt and that His Light would shine.  Pray that I will continue to lay down my own comfort as her cultural norms challenge all that I’ve ever known.  Pray that as she challenges me, telling me that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross like she did recently, that I will be led by the Spirit and full of His wisdom. Also pray for our nanny – that she would continue to be excited and hungry to learn about Jesus and that the language barrier would not be an issue!

Your prayer support is invaluable to me and together, I believe that our prayers really do matter!