Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Coming Close

“Come close to God and God will come close to you." James 4:8

It was an exciting moment when Ed and I were able to see an adorable baby joey pop its head out of mama kangaroo’s pouch. We were strolling through Cleland Wildlife Park in Adelaide, Australia, where there were many kangaroos. Every time we came close to a kangaroo it would hop away. So we tried to walk carefully and quietly not to frighten them away. Finally one mama kangaroo didn’t jump away frightened. We spoke to her gently as we inched closer to her. We both stopped, little joey kept popping his head in and out of mama's secure pouch, and then suddenly Ed was able to go right up close and pet the joey. Amazingly the mama let him. It was wonderful!

Yesterday evening we visited Central Park in my city. There are many Somalis who live around the park and in the evenings they come out of their homes to enjoy the soccer field and playgrounds. I often like to go to the park and meet Somali women. My heart yearns to go close but often they are cautious and look suspiciously at me and quickly move away if I come too close. I have to learn how to approach them and keep trying. There are many adorable Somali girls dressed in their hijabs. I especially want to go close to them. I don’t walk up to them fast or aggressively. And I have taken measures to dress modestly so as not to frighten them off. Suddenly last evening I noticed a Somali woman holding a newborn baby. Her face was open and welcoming. She didn’t run off quickly as I approached. She let me come close. She let me touch her newborn baby. It was such a precious moment. But then her husband, sitting in their van across the street observing everything, beeped his horn impatiently for her to leave me and she reluctantly ran off. I moved on walking around the park and met a Pathan lady all covered up and newly arrived from Peshawar, Pakistan. She was startled as I came close to talk to her. She was visibly frightened of me. I could tell she wanted to run. She wasn’t used to talking to anyone but her own people. I wondered if she had been kept in purdah before coming to the West. Then I spoke to her in Urdu and she calmed down. My heart ached for this frightened woman.

Some Muslim women are initially frightened of non-Muslims and want to run towards their familiar comfort zone. It takes persistent effort on our part to keep approaching them and learning the best way to do so. And then finally one day to our delight we meet a Muslim woman who is not frightened. She welcomes us to come close. It feels so wonderful! Now I have a better idea how God must feel when we draw close to Him.

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for wanting to come close to us and taking the initiative. In Jesus' name, Amen.