Thursday, June 5, 2014

But They Did it... and I'm Grateful...

      I read all the time as all my friends know.
      When David was a baby, I once realized I was carrying him half draped over my arm, drool running out of his little mouth, while I was fussing over  a book in a bookstore - the book had been placed upside down on the shelf....   Yes, it's that bad for me sometimes... Ha!
      I've heard it said that books are like old friends and for me there is a lot of  truth in that.  Most of the books I read simply occupy my thoughts for a brief time and then are forgotten.  However, there are some stories which standout, books that I return to again and again.  Over the past couple of years, these are the books that have become like friends to me.

     Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis.
     In the Land of Blue Burqas by Kate McCord.
     Which None Can Shut by Reema Goode
    Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi
    Unveiling Grace by Lynn Wilder

     The first three books are written by Christians who have lived or  who are living overseas and I found them fascinating because I love to read about other cultures.  But that's not why the books have become like treasured friends to me.
     It's because those three women, two of which have to use pseudonyms, loved Christ enough to follow Him to what could easily pass for the "ends of the earth" to  comfort-loving, thoroughly Westernized  me.           We have the expression: put your money where your mouth is.  These women have done that and in the process of following Christ way beyond their comfort zones, they have seen Him high and lifted up, standing out against the backdrop of a culture that has been made callous by poverty, by war, and/or  a culture that just doesn't recognize the right of Christians to exist and flourish.  The darkness they've encountered has only made the Jesus they know shine brighter than ever.  Who could not love the Jesus they know and serve?  And who could not love the people who have captured their hearts?
    Nabeel Qureshi's book and Lynn Wilder's book are set against the backdrop of the United States but again, they describe cultural and religious beliefs which are a bit foreign to me as well as fascinating to me.  The first part of each book takes me inside the world they used to live in and enables me to see exactly why they loved their "former life".  They didn't want to leave the religion and culture of their family and friends but they had to.  Because the Jesus of the Bible drew them to Himself and they found that the Biblical Jesus was not compatible with the Jesus they had been taught.
    The process of leaving the safety of a revered and much loved set of beliefs, in fact a whole way of life, in order to cast themselves solely on the Bible was not an easy one. In fact it was a long, hard process for Nabeel and for Lynn and they each lost a lot in that process.  However, they both have the same message: knowing the Christ of the Bible is worth it all.
    Having been raised in Christianity, it is easy for me to take things for granted about my faith, to subconsciously develop a "gimme" attitude towards God because I've lost the wonder and awe of knowing this amazing truth: for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son for us - so that we would not perish but instead would have everlasting life with Him.
   I love each and every book listed above and have read all of them or parts of them more than once. I've also listened to their testimonies on Youtube and been greatly  blessed by those as well.
   But I have to say that the book I keep going back to the most is Unveiling Grace.  There is something about Lynn's enthusiasm and sheer joy in finding the Jesus of the Bible that continues to captivate me and inspire me.  Each time I re-read the last part of her book, I see Jesus and the Bible through her loving eyes and it's just made a big difference in my own walk with Christ.
   The bottom line is that I owe a great deal to all five of these authors and look forward to hearing their entire stories in Heaven some day.  Meanwhile, I would be remiss if I did not publicly say thanks to these authors for what they have done for me in sharing their stories.  I know it wasn't easy for them to do any of the things they've done and certainly it wasn't easy (or in a couple of  cases) safe to write out their stories. But they did it... and I'm grateful.

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