Early every morning, the local muezzin begins his call, asking all those who hear him to pray. I’ve lived here long enough now, that it doesn’t usually wake me up anymore. However, this morning was a little different. The call was markedly louder than usual and the usual muezzin was replaced by someone very talented in his singing/chanting. Today marks the day thousands of sheep will lose their lives as local Muslims commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice and the end of the hajj to Mecca. Some have fasted the day before, believing that doing so will absolve them from the sins of the past year.
This morning as I laid in bed as the first rays of dawn broke and listening to the first of two morning calls, I, too, began thinking of God’s request of Abraham to sacrifice his son on the altar and of Abraham’s willingness to do so. I slowly rose from bed so as not to wake my sleeping husband and silently walked to our guest room, the room I designated as my prayer room. I read Genesis 22, the story of Abraham’s testing in the Bible. I began thinking about what this means for my life, here in the Middle East. So many talk about my life being full of sacrifices, but in reality, my life is quite nice. But, I know I must lay my dreams, my hopes on the altar of God as a sacrifice and allow him to take them to make them into what he desires. A difficult thing for me to do with the meager dreams I have, I can only begin to imagine what that must have been like to Abraham with his son. But I commit again to giving all my hopes and dreams to the Sovereign God knowing that he is faithful to see his purposes fulfilled.
Categories: Changes, life
Recently I went to a friend’s house for dinner with a group of fun ladies. We ate fabulous homemade Arab food, we talked, we laughed, we had fun. And then I had to leave with two of those friends. We got in a taxi, told him where we wanted to go and continued our lively discussion. Until I looked out the window and realized we may not get to my house in one piece. We were weaving in and out of traffic at top speeds in a city of over three million people. We stopped short when traffic was at a dead stop. We swerved to miss some sheep. And then we turned on my street where he slowed the car to a crawl because of the speed bumps. Normally, it would have taken me at least thirty minutes to drive to my friend’s house. He got me home in less than fifteen. I think he missed his calling for being a NASCAR driver. Oh the joys of transportation overseas!
Things I see that shouldn’t be normal.
I live in a communal society. Not a commune, but a community. This was evidenced today as I walked behind three lovely young ladies. They were dressed in the conservative fashion of my area: a long coat over stylish clothes and a decorative head scarf. Accessories were just so. And as they walked down the sidewalk, they walked side by side, with arms linked and holding hands. My first thought as I watched them enjoy each others’ company was how much fun these close friends were having at that moment. My second thought was about how strange it is that I don’t think it’s strange to see two women holding hands with fingers interlaced. My third thought was that I’m thankful to live in such a close-knit society. Then I remembered that time I hid in the back of my apartment from my neighbor because I needed some alone time. Community does have its drawbacks for the introvert.
I’m sitting on my balcony overlooking all the tiny people below. They’re scurrying around like determined ants. Soldiers are hustling up to the base nearby. Despite the heat, a few brave, fully-covered women march into the stores below in preparation for the day’s meals. White-capped men wander into the mosque across the street as the droning call fills the air. Cars honk impatiently, unable to wait their turn around the circle. A coffee seller adds to the din as he yells about his merchandise to those racing toward the vans that act as our public transportation system.
And everything is orange.
A dust storm has moved in and coated the air, creating the look of Mars or Tatooine. The clothes I washed and so carefully hung are now covered in a fine film. The same covers every surface of my apartment. There’s no use cleaning it up. It’s too hot to close the windows, so the dust will coat everything, including my lungs.
My view is not as crisp and clear as it normally is. I now view my neighborhood through through a screen of dust. Interesting how much of life is that way. I never really see things clearly. I always see things through my own perspective, based on my experiences and knowledge. And as I gaze below through the haze of the dust, I see my neighborhood differently. There’s a softness to it. The harsh reality of life in the Middle East has been distorted, changed, to something quite breathtaking.
I wonder if this is how God sees me, soft and beautiful, through the screen of the blood of Christ?
It really was that orange outside.