One thing that continues to be a learning experience for me is just how difficult it really is to depend on anything here. God is really working on my ability to trust Him in all situations, by taking away the conveniences I could easily put my trust in if I were at home. Yet it doesn’t stop there – He’s using these moments of inability to depend on myself to teach me about His character and my relationship to Him.
So, as you might have guessed, I have a story for you.
I wanted to visit a student, whose house I’ve never been to. I called her so she could tell me where she lived, or where to meet her, or anything that would help me get to her house. As we were talking, she said something about a high school in the area she lived in. Then, my phone ran out of credit and ended the conversation. I already knew she was also out of credit, so we were out of luck.
My solution was to go to the market to buy more phone credit and call her back. Yet, when I got to the market, everything was closed. So, I turned around and said, “Okay, God. Take me to her house.” I figured that if I headed in the direction of where I thought the high school was, somebody might know her and could point me to her house.
Well, there was barely anybody outside. I walked for a while, turned around and walked a different direction, turned again… and then finally I saw a man walking past so I decided to approach him and try out some of my Hassaniya. I asked him if he knew this friend of mine. He didn’t, but immediately he determined to help me find her.
To make a long story short, this man spent probably half an hour wandering around the neighborhood with me, walking into random houses to ask if anybody knew this girl or her family. Various people have some sort of idea where her family lived or who she was related to, so we slowly meandered our way toward her house. Finally, I saw a familiar face looking out of a doorway up ahead, and we had made it! I turned around to thank this stranger for helping me, but he was already on his way back to where I found him.
So much of this experience was humbling and enlightening. That night, I kept thinking about the generosity and kindness of that random stranger to just leave whatever he was doing to accompany me on this search. I struggled with the idea that there was nothing I could do to repay him. I’ll probably never see him again, and I probably wouldn’t recognize him if I did. For me, he just existed in that half hour to give me his kindness that I in no way earned or could give back. I didn’t know what to do with that thought; I thanked God and prayed He would bless this man and his family, but I was having a hard time just accepting this gift.
Suddenly, it was as if God turned on a light for me. He reminded me how this kindness is so similar to the gift of grace that He offers through Christ. A lot of my life has had this underlying theme of trying to pay God back for His gift to me or make myself somehow slightly worthy of it. I have never consciously thought that, but analyzing my reaction with this Sahrawi man’s kindness made me realize that I’m not very good at just accepting the love of others when I am incapable of repaying it.
That’s just the place we’re all at with God. Yes, we can love Him, and we can try to obey Him, and we can do things that glorify Him or even orient our entire lives around His purposes. But unfortunately, we’re all tainted by the sin of humanity. We all fall into the trap of the evil one, and we all struggle against our innate selfishness and pride. So while we might try as hard as we can to please God, nothing we do can ever be good enough to actually earn the grace He has provided. It is an entirely undeserved gift – equally available to the “pious” and the murderers – and all we can offer back is our gratitude.
I hope to continue to meditate on this idea and gain a better understanding of how I can just respond with thankfulness and accept the love God has for me without worrying about whether I’m worth it. His desire to love me is the only reason I am considered worthy of His love – not anything I am or anything I have done. It’s a crazy thought, but we have a crazy God up there whose love, grace and mercy our beyond our comprehension!