Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. ~ John 1:38-39
It would be wrong to say I follow Jesus faithfully every day. I wander off the path sometimes or think I’m alone in this journey so I have to figure it out with my own willpower or “strategic thinking” “Ha! I got this one!” I’ll say to myself. Or, “enough of that silliness about praying and listening and thinking God is going to help me find a parking spot!” (Btw, asking God to help me find a parking spot, I believe, is silly. On most occasions).
But I still believe and have plenty of instances, or days, or stretches of time where I actually pray and seek God. And it feels like he is in the stuff of my day. I pray for wisdom, guidance, help. In the little things and most often with the bigger things. Of course, it shouldn’t be restricted to the big things but that is my proclivity. It’s like I’m ok if I mess it up with the little things but I sure want to get it right with the big, important things. And that is messed up, I know. Anyway, in this journey, I feel like some of Jesus’ first disciples who asked Jesus where he was staying. They saw something about Jesus and wanted to get a closer look. Maybe to “test drive” this thing of following Jesus before they committed.
Yesterday, Cari and I completed recording sessions for a video series I’m doing on countering Islamophobia. We’re calling it “Perfect love casts out fear,” based on the words in 1 John 4:18 along the same lines. We prayed and we’ve felt all along that this is where Jesus is kind of camping out these days–in the intersections many people have with their “other,” where fear and division force us to turn away from each other and in some cases hate or seek harm. There’s just way too much of that these days and as a peacemaker, I find myself called especially to the intersection between Muslims and Christians. Yesterday’s session felt special, like Jesus was smiling and helping us find our words to address this major intersection.
And then we went to do a test drive. Our car is getting old and we believe we should also move to a more eco-friendly vehicle with our forests burning and global warming. We’ve been doing research and yesterday went to talk to a dealer. And we prayed. As we entered the dealership a little late for our appointment (because I was long-winded doing the taping sessions), we got bumped from our initial contact to another dealer who began to graciously explain our options. He was excellent. We decided not to move on a purchase but we’re still thinking and praying. We asked for the dealer’s business card though and I looked long and hard at his name, trying to pronounce it.
And then we had one of these “OMG” moments. “Are you kidding me Lord?” It turns out the gentleman is from Marrakesh, Morocco and is Muslim background. And we launched into a long conversation about religion, culture, issues of walking in multiple worlds, immigration. We talked about the famous Moroccan dish–the Tagine. And we tried out some of our Arabic on our new friend, some of the phrases that we’ve learned from our Syrian and Palestinian friends. The dealer (go figure–a car salesman from Morocco helping us learn Arabic) helped us gently pronounce and conjugate a few words. Cari and I were in our sweet spot. We lingered with our new friend and felt our hearts touch. We truly did linger. We didn’t want to leave. And we felt the presence and smile of God on our time. “What do you want?”
Alhamduallah. Praise be to God.
We don’t get this right all the time. But yesterday seemed like we were walking where Jesus wanted us to walk. It was really joy-filled! Let me tell you.