travel


prodigal daughter Someone recently asked me what my greatest fear is. Immediately I knew…

“That my life will not matter. That I will waste it.”

This is my greatest fear because I am routinely tripped up by habits and patterns of defeat.  I have allowed old lies to quench the fresh power of the Gospel in my heart and mind. Why can’t I just believe God and obey?
I’ve been an easy mark for the enemy. I don’t put up much of a fight. He knows my wounds and knows there are STILL parts of my heart that are not whole.

A little over a year ago I was in the Middle East serving alongside godly men and women who have given their lives in service to the Gospel. During that trip, an attack on some of our team members was evident and I was not prepared (spiritually) for my personal assault. A bitter root had grown in my heart and I foolishly did not rip it out the minute it took hold. One morning, around 3 a.m. I awoke to a familiar sound. It was different this time – I truly felt the enemy “singing” over me and it penetrated my soul. He was taunting me.  I never really talked about it or prayed about it -but I should have.

God knew where I was about to go- He knew my failures before I knew them. Yet in His GRACE He planned an escape route, deep healing, new purpose, godly guidance, financial provision and specific scripture – all in a matter of days – all waiting for me on the other side. Fully restored, fully cleansed and fully forgiven. I only had to reach out and take it! Jesus had already paid my debt and I am in awe.

I am still in the midst of this battle but I am praying the armor – fighting again and praying for WHOLENESS. Pray for me that God will not let me waste this experience. I am determined to stop living in defeat. But I (obviously) cannot do it in my own power. I have tried and I have failed and failed and failed…You’d think I would get the hint by now!

But I am HOPEFUL! Trust me…I have cause to be full of hope because of what I am learning about myself and what God’s word promises. I want FREEDOM!!!!

“Don’t be afraid that your life will end,
be afraid that it will never begin.”

Grace Hansen

I am learning all sorts of things about Middle Eastern culture. As one author put it,

“The Bible is not a Western book. Yes it is Pan-Cultural and the truths apply to all peoples, but the origins, stories and forms are eastern.” 

“A Muslim’s Heart” by Edward Hoskins

It is fascinating! The more I learn the more I realize the biases through which I have been internalizing scripture. In the Bible, when people’s reactions don’t add up I tend to skip over certain passages. I often do not understand the way some people react and it puzzles me. Reactions that seem cryptic to me are now making more sense as I learn about about the Eastern mentality. 

Punctuality 
For example, in Eastern society punctuality is not important. If I had dinner plans with a friend across town and an unexpected guest dropped by my house, it would be rude to leave the unexpected guest! So even if I was 3 hours late, the friend I was meeting across town would not be offended and would even assume that I had had an unexpected guest drop by!

Being late is (to me) the ultimate insult. It’s like saying, “You weren’t important enough to be on time for.” However, in Eastern cultures they believe “only servants arrive on time. Being 15 to 30 minutes late is actually preferred.” 

Honor
For a Muslim, honor or “saving face” is everything. “It is more important than logic, truth and life itself.”
Sin is not taken as seriously as in the West. While Westerners view sin as an internal, moral failure, those in the East view sin as wrong but not as bad as getting caught in the sin!

One Biblical example is when Moses is giving his farewell address to the Israelites in Deu 3: 23-26. He says,

“At that time I pleaded with the LORD : “O Sovereign LORD, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.” But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the LORD said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.”

Two other times in Deuteronomy Moses puts the blame on the Israelites and not in himself. In Eastern cultures, blame-shifting is an art. 

Hospitality
If you visit a friend’s home and admire something they own they feel obligated to give it to you!
If I take home leftovers in a container I must replace it with some other food when I return it. 

Sencerity
Repitition is very important in the East. (Just like when Jesus and the Lord repeat things three times throughout scripture.) If I say something once it means I don’t really mean it and I am just being polite. I have to repeat something at least two or three times to be taken seriously! 

In the East, if someone invites me over to their house and they only ask once then they really don’t want me to come. It would be very rude for me to stop by.

I am not in any way insinuating that Western culture is better. I write about this only to share what I am learning and hopefully to better understand my new friends. To people in the Middle East we seem cold and unfriendly. It is strange to them that we do not smile at strangers or invite them to our homes for a meal. They are extremely loyal to extended family and to be alone is completely foreign to them. Of course you would want to live close to as many members of your family for as long as you can! In the West we tend to only be very close to our nuclear families and only see extended family on holidays.

I have much to learn…
(Most of what I have shared can be found in the aforementioned book by Hoskins.) 

 

 

President Bush offers to help Lebanon’s army prior to his trip to the Middle East later this week:
Click here for video interview >>