Tag Archives: love

ALONE IN A STRANGE LAND

Now that we are into December I feel I can write a few blogs about Christmas. This first one is an amazing open door the Lord gave me and it reminded me so much of the birth of our Saviour, not so much in a strange land, but in a strange place.

My daughter, Cheryl, was teaching ESL here in Moose Jaw a few years ago. I had the privilege of meeting many of her students, eating in their homes and inviting them to special events in the city. One young couple were newly arrived from Africa and they were working hard at learning English. They were also expecting their second baby.

One day Cheryl came to me with a problem and asked if I could help. That couple had been sent to the hospital for a tour and to learn about the birthing process here in Canada. They were frustrated, not understanding half of what was told them and the birth was fast approaching. Things here were not at all like having a baby in Africa. In their culture aunts, cousins, grandma’s and mothers were near and ready to help. But the fathers were not involved at all.

“Mom, there is no one to go into the delivery room with this young woman.  Would you be willing to do that?” Cheryl asked. I had five children so I knew what to expect and agreed to be there. She  talked the father into at least being there as long as Cheryl was there to explain in simple English what was happening.

I walked into the hospital and was introduced to this young couple. The father sat in a corner of the room, huddled in a chair while Cheryl sat near him explaining everything that was happening. I stood at the bedside of one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. Her chocolate brown skin was silky smooth and she kept a tight grip on my hand through the ensuing hours. I wiped her face and even though we didn’t know one word of each other’s languages, we bonded in the fact that we were women in a process that has been around since creation.

There were other women giving birth that night so it was a busy place. At the last minute  the doctor was busy so a nurse caught the screaming newborn baby boy. What a miracle to hear a baby’s first cry. After the usual weighing, measuring and washing of the baby, the nurse came to us carrying the swaddled, toque-topped infant. “Who gets the baby?” she asked and the father quickly put his hands behind his back. This was not his cultural norm. “Give him to grandma,” and he pointed at me.

Into my arms was placed a beautiful, mocha-skinned, curly-haired baby. What a precious bundle. As I kissed and cuddled him I realized that this little boy would grow up in Canada. Probably learn to play hockey and love football. I turned to the father and surprised him as I placed he baby in his arms. “You are in Canada now,” I told him.

As I walked out of the hospital that night my heart overflowed with joy that the Lord had allowed me to show love to this couple alone in a strange land. No words were needed. I couldn’t help but think of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem on the night when our Saviour was born. Was there a woman who came in to hold Mary’s hand and wipe her brow? If I had been there, I would have gladly done that.  Thank you, Lord, for granting me such a precious memory.

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PAY IT FORWARD

For several weeks I’ve been mulling over how to put some old thoughts into today’s words. Finally the answer came. PAY IT FORWARD .

When an expert in Jewish law asked Jesus “Which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses,” Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important; Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:37-39). In today’s language – PAY IT FORWARD.

This is similar to the covenant the Lord made with Abraham. The Lord said He would bless Abraham, make his family a great nation and that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through them. The last part of that covenant indicates that Abraham’s descendants would PAY IT FORWARD.

For hundreds of years the nation of Israel protected itself from other nations of the world while they looked for a Messiah to deliver them. They didn’t realize that their Messiah, one of their own, was going to PAY IT FORWARD on their behalf to fulfill that final part of God’s covenant with Israel. Jesus said in John 12:32: And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself (He was indicating how He would die.) God loved the WORLD so much that He gave His one and only Son so  that EVERYONE who believes in Him will have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT.  All nations!

Saul was an expert in Jewish law. He killed Christians and encouraged others to do so too. He didn’t understand that their Messiah had already come to PAY IT FORWARD until he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and realized the Messiah had come. His life was transformed and he spent the rest of his life PAYING IT FORWARD to non-Jews (us).

The ‘church’ has not replaced Israel as the true people of God, we have joined them. To be “in Christ” means we have joined a new human race that cuts across cultural, racial and gender lines. Paul expands on that in Galatians 3:28-29: “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus and now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs and God’s promise to Abraham  belongs to you.” That also means that we are to PAY IT FORWARD. “Go into all the world and preach the God news to everyone.” Matt. 16:15.

And how about the ‘love your neighbor’ aspect? In the story of the good Samaritan, the neighbor turned out to be a person from a nation that Israel despised, that they protected themselves from. There are some deep lessons imbedded in this passage for us. Any culture, ethnic group or anyone with a different sexual orientation that you despise? Jesus calls them neighbors. God didn’t tell us to join them He told us to love them. If you take food to a friend who is grieving or ill – find a ‘neighbor’ to bless in that way too. Do you shovel a sidewalk for a friend? Find a ‘neighbor’ and PAY IT FORWARD.

I heard a song the other day, new to me, but it quickly became a favourite. Love is a Verb, by John Mayor. Love is not a thing, love is a verb. The song ends with this phrase: “So you gotta show me, show me, show, me, that love is a verb.”

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