American Night in Cairo

I’ve been reminded twice this week about what I called “American Night in Cairo”. When I lived in Egypt, there were days were I longed to be back in the States and I would remember everything great about the U.S. On those days, I would put a cassette tape in my jam box that my parents recorded from my favorite station at home and listen to the music, DJ chatter, news, traffic and weather. I’d cook hotdogs that someone brought me, open a can of chili and drink a Dr. Pepper that a friend got from the commissary. After that, I’d put in a VHS tape into the VCR, sit on the couch and what “Friends” and other shows from “Must See TV” with commercials and all. For a moment, it was like I was back in my natural habitat.

The truth was, Egypt was my new home. I fell in love with Arabic, the pyramids, eating who knows what from who knows where, the dust storms, the horns honking, sailing down the Nile and everything else that was special about living there. I was so caught up in looking back to my old life that I almost missed the new one. I longed for days that had passed and my memory amplified how great things were because they weren’t right in front of me. It got to be all I thought about until I really embraced Egypt.

I heard the first part of Romans 6 last night from The Message Bible and it paralleled with those nights in Egypt. It says, “If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace – a new life in a new land!” I find myself, even now, looking back on my old life, the one where I didn’t follow God’s ways, and remembering it with fondness.

I don’t think it’s bad to remember the good times I had, but when I start longing for them again, it distracts from my new life in Christ. I start missing out on what God has for me in this new land. I can’t allow what used to be to dominate my present thoughts and to create a homesickness for what once was. Since we’re born into sin, that lifestyle is “home” to our flesh. Our mind and body want to go back there, but our spirit, who is given to us from God, desires the new land. It creates a battle inside. That battle stunts our growth, stagnates our walk and keeps us from seeing all the blessings of the new life.

It wasn’t until I quit having “American Night in Cairo” that I began to see the beauty of my new home. I had missed out on so much because I was always dreaming of what used to be. What is your “American Night in Cairo” that keeps drawing you back to your old life? God has called you to live a new life in a new land. Don’t spend your time in this new life dreaming of days gone by. Thank God you’re forgiven, listen to the deepest part of your spirit as it calls you to love this new life and follow after it. You live in a country of grace now. You have a new life in a new land, embrace it.


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3 responses to “American Night in Cairo

  1. Great illustration. Say, did you visit many biblical sites in Egypt? I heard a person once say that Egypt is a must for those into visiting biblical places, like Israel and Turkey. And what perspective did working with the Church in Egypt bring to your present Christian understanding? (Can you tell I’m intrigued!)

    • That would be multiple posts in itself! I visited several sites, but my favorite was in Asyut. There was a monastery there that is supposedly where Joseph, Mary and Jesus lived during their time there. The part of Cairo I lived in was called Maadi which means the crossing. It’s where they crossed the Nile and headed south.
      I got to work with Coptic Christians who are the oldest form of organized Christianity (even before Catholics). They were formed by the Ethiopian eunuch that Philip preached to.
      My whole perspective on what I knew and believed as a Christian was challenged and grew as a result. I learned to read the bible from a middle eastern perspective. The culture is much the same as it was when Jesus lived on earth and being able to understand that culture opened my eyes to many things that I didn’t get before.

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