Archives for the month of: October, 2011

Shehrbano Taseer is a 22 year old Pakistani woman whose story was told in a Wall Street Journal article earlier this year.  Her father, Salmann Taeseer, a prominent journalist was murdered for speaking out against the cancer of militant Islam that is plaguing that country.  After her father’s death, Ms. Taseer refused to leave the country for a safer place and instead began to walk in her father’s footsteps.

The Journal article remarks: “That the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity is nothing new in human affairs.  What’s more remarkable is to still find among Pakistanis people who are prepared to forego their exit options in order to fight for their country.  “In Pakistan,” says Ms. Taseer, “if you believe in something, you have to be willing to die for it.”

As I have pondered on Ms. Taseer and her father, another group of people who have given their lives for the good of their country came to mind:  the judges and other elected officials in Mexico slaughtered by the drug cartels.  I am awed at the courage of these who have stood up against evil knowing from the get go that their lives and the lives of their families are the price that will be paid for their convictions.

“If you believe in something, you have to be willing to die for it.”  When I hear Ms. Taseer’s statement, I also hear another voice saying: “If you want to be my disciple, you must deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow me. For if you try to save your life, you will lose it, but if you lose your life for my sake, you will surely find it.”

The real courage shown by the Mexican judges and Ms. Taseer is not that of standing up to gunmen at the end, but rather in getting up in the morning and going about their business knowing that each day may be their last. This is a real dying to self for the sake of something much bigger.

“If you believe in something, you have to be willing to die for it.”   We generally ignore Jesus’ words about dying to self and living for Him except around Lent, but what a difference it would make if this were the guiding principle of our lives.  We may not face guns, bombs, or torture for our faith.  But we certainly face powerful seductive forces tempting us  to make Jesus into an innocuous personal friend who helps us out when we are in trouble, or a distant acquaintance who provides good ethical advice or fire insurance.

Did he give his life to become an accessory to our lives, an add-on that doesn’t cost us much?  If just a fraction of Christians really took Him seriously about this denying self thing, the world would be turned upside down for God.  It would draw us to our knees, into a life of constantly leaning  into God for everything we are worth just to make it through the day. What power there is in this!

God bless Ms. Taseer and the Mexican judges.  God bless us, and give us a faith worth dying for.

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I thank you for reading this post!  I will be out of town and off line through Nov. 6.

Look for more posts after that.  Joan

Sedona

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I was blessed enough recently to spend two weeks in the wilds of northern Idaho.  We found a little piece of paradise about 3 miles from the Canadian border with a river, eagles, hummingbirds, and other assorted animals including dear, moose, and wild turkey. It was grizzley bear country, but I am thankful we did not meet one.  The hiking was amazing.  But the thing that made the biggest impression on me was not the wild life or the trails.  It was the people.

The nearest shopping of any substance was 25 miles from our cabin in Bonner’s Ferry, ID.  It is a town of about 2,500 souls perched on the banks of the Kootenai (pron. “coot knee”)  river.  We went there three or four times during our stay to eat and buy groceries.  We also checked out the annual Garlic Festival one Saturday.  I was struck by the way people act there.  Strangers look you in the eye.  They nod and smile when they meet you on the sidewalk.  The supermarket clerk  learning that we had come so far wanted to know why and seemed genuinely pleased that we liked her state.  The waitress in our restaurant one night struck up a conversation based on the fact that she had gone to school briefly in Atlanta.  We chatted off and on through the evening.  I pulled a muscle in my back and we went to the pharmacy section of the supermarket to get some Aleave.  The pharmacist looked up from what she was doing, asked if she could help, asked me what my problem was, and then gave me advice about taking care of a bad back.  All with a smile on her face and what seemed like genuine interest.

I have been living in the city too long.  I have forgotten what the “real world” (i.e. places without ten lane highways) is like.  I realized after experiencing Bonner’s Ferry that I live in a very tight, well-defended little bubble.  I put on a protective shell when I leave my home.  It makes me feel safe, but it also cuts me off from the gift of human connection and it tends to devalue other people.  Supermarket clerks in Atlanta generally don’t take time to talk to people.  If they did, the rest of us who had to wait in line while they chatted would mutiny.  Eyes would roll; complaints would be made.

Could I live in Bonner’s Ferry?  Absolutely not – I’m not tough enough to handle Idaho winters.  But Bonner’s Ferry reminded me that there is much more to life than getting through the to do list at a faster and faster pace while avoiding eye contact and thinking nasty thoughts about anybody who gets in my way.  I have decided that there is going to be more eye contact in my future and maybe even a bit of chat before I hand over my Kroger Plus card.  It’s not much, but even a tiny bit of yeast leavens the dough.

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