Tag Archives: cairo

Disoriented Faith

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On one of my very first days of living in Cairo, Egypt, the youth pastor took me and three others,who were interns as well, to lunch. After lunch, she took us outside and got in a taxi. As we started to get in with her, she handed us a piece of paper with her address on it. She said, “Y’all get another taxi and have them take you here.” With that, her taxi took off and we were left standing on the side of the road in a foreign country. At that moment, I realized I knew absolutely nothing in Arabic.

I couldn’t say, “yes” or “no” even. As we looked at license plates, I noticed that I couldn’t even recognize the numbers. How were we going to communicate with the taxi driver? After we got in the taxi, we told him the address. He asked if we spoke Arabic. We shook our heads no. We quickly figured out that he was not from this part of town. He drove around aimlessly and stopped for directions a few times. We began to get scared because we had no idea where we were, where we were going or how to get there if we could communicate. We were completely disoriented.

In the process, we saw most of the town where we would be living for the next year, we bonded with each other and laughed about it later, much later. It reminded me of what God does with us sometimes. He gives us instructions that don’t make sense, puts us in situations that we don’t understand and asks us to do the impossible with very little instructions. It can be disorienting and scary. It can be stressful for us as well because we can’t see where He’s leading. We have families to feed, people who depend on us and safety nets that we’ve built. Why does God move us out of those comfortable situations?

I heard the answer in our Bible study. The author said, “God will sometimes disorient us in order to re-orient us. We can become too dependent on the things we’ve built for our own security and that causes us to trust God less. Jesus constantly said and did things that disoriented His disciples. He took men who were used to being on the water and gave them land legs. He taught in people’s homes instead of always doing it in the synagogue. He referred to God as “Father” instead of Yahweh. He hung out with sinners instead of the righteous. He challenged their entire way of life so He could re-orient them into the life He wanted them to live.

What’s happening in your life right now that doesn’t make sense to you? Where has God moved you that is away from the comfort zone you built? God has not left you and isn’t allowing things to happen to you randomly. He is re-orienting your life to a deeper trust in Him. He is re-orienting your faith to give you a stronger trust in Him. He is redirecting your life to the path He wants you on so you can accomplish all He has for you. Trust that He sees the whole map of your life and knows when you need to be re-oriented. Feeling lost temporarily can bring a greater direction to your life. Trust what God is doing.

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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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