Hard Work of Being In Gaza

Some of my friends seem to think (because I am a Christian and have traveled to non-Christian, less fortunate nations) that I am working toward a goal of changing others. If only they could understand the secret I told my daughter when I left my home in America—”I’m not coming back until I am different.” It’s always been about changing me, which I have never been able to do on my own.

I was in Israel for seven months and the voice I kept hearing in my head, daily on one situation or another, said, “Oh, so you think you KNOW!” It echoed what my brother had said to me, “Not always right, but never in doubt!” I returned to the States for 3 months, realizing I am not different enough, yet. The biggest difference was that I went to the other extreme thinking I knew nothing. I think the lesson of that whole first year was ASK, don’t ASSUME you have the mind of Christ on anything. I had to learn just because I could read, didn’t mean I understood. Accepting change (sometimes every 5 minutes), learning to respond to that change instantly and learning to hear questions as questions instead of personal challenges was just a little of the ‘hard work’ going on in my everyday life. Israel was a time of stripping away of possessions, relationships and beliefs that competed with Jesus for my heart’s throne. Did I love Jesus? Oh how I loved Him!—I thought the term “first love” meant that romantic kind of love I felt when I first fell in love with my husband. That was a possessive love, even a jealous love that caused me to embrace “Go thy way: for he (she) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will show him (her) the great things he (she) must suffer for my name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16) Do I still love Him? Oh how I love Him!—but differently.

Let me explain this different kind of love. It no longer is a giddy schoolgirl, starry eyed kind of love that wants the whole world to know “He’s MINE! He chose ME! See my ring.” It’s a love of quiet confidence that He chooses to always ‘BE there for me’. He never shuts me out when He doesn’t like what I say or do, but He speaks with me about it in honesty. Have you ever ‘read’ someone’s face and knew they weren’t happy? I get that same feeling inside when He’s not happy about what I say or do. I can go to him and ask if we can talk about it, or I can ignore it. But thankfully He doesn’t allow a cold war between us for long. This love I feel now is more like Him having first place, a number one priority with trust—a mature love like after 15+ years of marriage. That kind of love. Now, did I suffer getting to this place? HA! Doesn’t every strong willed child suffer much to get a strong will under subjection? Isn’t self-will the biggest issue in letting someone else be Lord of your life? So when I say, “I followed my heart into Gaza” I hope you can understand the meaning behind it.

My “beloved” planted seed upon seed of admiration for the women of Gaza. I saw a strength in them coupled with gentleness, a lack coupled with generosity, great pain coupled with compassion. I wanted to know how they could be this way based on what I thought I knew of Muslims, it just didn’t fit. There had been on ongoing conversation (an asking, shall we say) between me and my “beloved” over the span of a couple years. How I wished the conversation would have given me more information. It might have been easier to convince those around me there was a reasonable purpose for this journey but even I may have not been able to accept the answer to that question at that time. The journey into Gaza came out of this new kind of love. Part of the timing of the move was fueled by (as one dear brother in Christ put it—a flash point) ‘thorns in the nest’ which is never comfortable followed by my experience of having my soul restored.

My hard work of being in Gaza has been allowing Christ to challenge and change ME. I have been welcomed, respected, served, honored and loved. If this is an act of radical terrorism, I wonder what people in Jesus’ time called his actions. Rachel Corrie saw a people so crushed by their sufferings that she was willing to stand in the gap for them. The fragrance of Rachel’s life joins the fragrance of the lives in this place of people who have suffered tremendous crushing but lived through it. Some have lived through it and become very angry, some very compassionate and tender, some disfigured and sick but, ALL in need of RESTORATION and love.

Only then will we be different enough to truly go HOME.

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