Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Useful Declaration

For the Lord is good.  His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.   Psalm 100:5

When my family was on home assignment in the USA from Somalia I encountered a new experience at twelve years old which left a strong impression on me. Facing the American flag, I would put my hand over my heart every day at school and pledge allegiance or make a declaration of loyalty to the United States. The declaration had to be spoken out loud. I don’t remember making any verbal declaration about anything before that time. Today there is something else that I declare on a regular basis. It is a habit of mine upon waking up in the morning to declare, “For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.”  It is my way of saying good morning to my Lord and surrendering myself to Him daily.  Making verbal declarations about God personally strengthens my faith.
This declaration is powerful when shared with Muslims; especially those burned from harsh religious authorities.  Atheism is on the rise nowadays among such people. They can throw God out along with their religion.  I asked Layla if she knew what one of the most common declarations of God’s character is in the Bible which she did not know so I quoted Psalm 100:5. While Muslims frequently state the takbeer, “Allahu Akbar”(translated in Arabic as: Allah is greater/greatest) I declare Psalm 100:5 about God. The Islamic declaration is stated in Muslims’ obligatory prayers, at the beginning of the adhan, inscribed on certain flags, an expression of faith, gratitude, victory or defiance, used in times of distress, and shouted out like a battle cry when fighting for Allah.  Allahu Akbar is a phrase which expresses moods and displays approval and happiness and sometimes used like cheerleading during political rallies. The declaration is a strong expression that summarizes the core of Islam.
I repeated the declaration of Psalm 100:5 a couple of times to Layla. It is the very core of my faith. She was attracted to the words but also to the fact that I was quoting something from my holy Book. They like hearing memorized Scripture. “Yes, God is good.  He loves us and his love is faithful. His love continues to be poured out on me, my children, and grandchildren – to each generation. God does not skip a generation. These words are special because they are rooted in truth, not just a wish,” I explained to Layla.  It is a wonderful way to introduce the character of God as revealed in the Bible.  True, He is the greatest power and transcendent, but He is much more. He is immanent, a benevolent loving Deity and relational. I wish I had used this declaration of affirmation of God’s character years ago with my Muslim friends. It is now stated frequently when I pray for my Muslim friends.  What can they say? It is beautiful and awakens them to knowledge of the Holy One; especially His immanence.
The declaration brought tears to Layla’s eyes. Amazing! It’s the immanence of God they long for which so often is illusive.
Dear heavenly Father, let this declaration of You be on my lips often when I am with my Muslim friends. In Jesus’ name, Amen.