This is a guest post from Linamize, a first-year graduate student originally from Eritrea, who is now studying to be a physician’s assistant in California. Linamize shares a touching story that recently took place in her life and how obeying God’s command – even though it was uncomfortable – led to a true blessing in her life. If you too are interested in guest posting, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.
A recent sermon by Fr. Anthony talked about evangelism. How do we go around and talk about Jesus, and how do we bring Jesus to the people around us. I am surrounded by friends who are atheists. They are aware of my belief and respect my religion and are aware of my fasting time and have seen the many pictures of St. Mary and Jesus Christ in my room.
Despite that I always feel the need to be cautious when we talk because of fear of being teased and embarrassment, and sometimes because I think I will be offending them.
When Fr. Anthony challenged us to just “drop a seed” and said nobody would reject a request of prayer, I laughed within and thought “you haven't met my friends.” I imagined the conversation going as follows:
Me: “Would you like me to pray for you?”
Friend: “Haha, that’s ok. I think I’ll be ok. But thank you.”
Deep inside however, I wanted to test this theory. I wanted to see how they would respond. So randomly one afternoon while one of my friends was driving to her place and we were talking on the phone, I throw a way a comment/suggestion like this “Oh, I am gonna need lots of prayer to pass this class. Would you like me to pray for you as well?”
I was so ready to pretend I was joking and change the subject, however her response was “YES! PLEASE!! Please do. I need all the prayers out there.”
She was sincere and I could feel her longing for God. I didn’t know what to say. I know how stubborn she is about God’s existence. I felt very bad. I never thought about praying for any of my friends.
In a same day another friend came to me and talked to me about a few problems she is going through. I told her I was going to pray about it, and her response was to give me a hug and thank me. She told me, just saying that made her feel much better.
I have discussed religion with my friends many times. We all are trying to be nice and accepting of other person’s opinion. From our discussion what I understood was that they not only don’t believe, but think it is an ancient fairy tale. They always use the phrase “religion is the root of all the problems in this world.” Now, I see that small crack in their heart that is longing to God, but I have no idea how I can bring Jesus to their lives.
So I decided to pray about it. After that day I made it a routine to say “I will pray for us” or “I will pray about that for you” and so on. But bringing Jesus to others isn’t an easy job.
As I woke up one morning and knelt down to pray, I remembered the things I did a night before that were not acceptable. I decided to put them on my confession diary. When I opened the document, however I was attracted by the things I wrote there and started reading from the beginning.
I was ashamed of my self. Not of the sins I was confessing but to the way I was presenting God in my diary. It feels like as if I was being raised by an abusive father and I am pleading for mercy. All of the sentences include “sorry” and there is so much guilt and fear. Fear as being afraid of a beast or scary creature. My “sorrys” all were seeking mercy so that I can avoid punishment.
I imagined one of my friends reading this, why would they want to pray, serve and believe in the God that I am presenting. He clearly seems like a merciless, angry God who is abusing me with a bunch of punishments. I was surprised to see how much I am scared of punishments.
A few years ago I lost both my parents in a short time due to illness. I always felt like they died because I was leading such an unchristian life. My fear is mostly a fear of losing somebody from my siblings. I sat there and cried because all this time I didn’t had Jesus in me, and yet I am trying to bring Him to somebody else. How can I give something I never had?
If I had Jesus in me, wouldn’t I be filled with more joy and peace? Wouldn’t I feel confident and strong about my faith? If I had Jesus in me, would I be so afraid of punishments? And would I be tempted with different sinful behaviors if I had Jesus in me?
When Adam sinned, I think it was his guilt that got him kicked out more than the act it self. He tried to hide from God out of shame and guilt. That is my life, I am always hiding from God out of guilt and shame. My prayers and diary are all filled with “sorry” and “please find a place to forgive me”, or “please don’t allow anything happen to my family due to my sinful, shameful deeds.”
So, though my struggle is still there, I discovered my “aha” moment. I found that I never knew Jesus. I knew ABOUT HIM, but I never let Him in. But even though I never had Jesus, He always had me. He never forsook. He blessed me and raised me up beyond what I ever could have dreamt of.
God loves me so much! And I want to love Him back. I want to introduce Him and share Him with my friends. I will continue to pray for more of these “aha” moments to gain wisdom and knowledge that leads me towards him. I am not there yet, but at least I now know my shortcomings and thus I can ask for help and guidance from him.