A love that covers cultural fears: Boldness
In the city, stepping onto the Metro or tram with your kids opens up another set of eyes that you wouldn’t usually use. People with deformities, sad and angry countenances lace the standing room space. Your heart just fills to the brim with compassion for their incapacities. Then I see these little adoring eyes looking up at them wanting so much to care out loud. I love the gifts that God has put into my children. I tell them, “don’t you dare believe that you aren’t worthy, and that God can’t use you.” With wisdom, God speaks to their little hearts to move or not to move.
That usually begins with me as their mom. What they see God do in me, opens their eyes to a whole needy different kind of world. Watching God use them differently is so so good. I consider it like gifts under a lit-up tree.
Being out of our home country since 2008, I've learned to believe some cultural, unspoken rules of can’ts or don’ts that I’ve accumulated for an evangelistic context. One, you can’t ‘reach them’ without fully knowing the language.
And two, you most likely come off disingenuous if you smile with an upbeat personality in regards to inquiring of someone’s well-being and you don’t know them well.
These are two aspects that have taken forever to reconcile and overcome within my heart and mind. Now of course, these are general statements, but tend to be a good read when it comes to the crashing of American culture into an Eastern European country. Needless to say, I believe it’s best to listen, and learn; to become like them in order to understand and to reach them.
But as time goes on, I’m learning a higher calling. I have continued praying for a boldness in Christ. I am discovering and trusting A Love that covers over culture, and lets Him speak regardless of what’s trying to overtake my mind. To God be the Glory.
Lately, He’s been speaking this to my heart: “As I search his Word, What if I just believe what he says to me, for both myself and others? As I go about my day, What if I don’t think of those other possibilities, but truly open up my Bible and believe simply? Like a child with adoring eyes looking up to my Father, who is Author and Finisher; Let it be said that I stop thinking of the What if’s, and just simply believe His Words.”
That is a revolutionary way of thinking. As we grow up, we tend to have caution because we’ve actually seen what is possible. We’ve seen what the world is handing out. We’ve seen how the world copes with it, or lashes back with a numb retort. We see how people grieve the loss with vices, and we watch, standing timid to hand over the hope of a Great God. We fill all the gaps with a ‘safe-proof’ guard, so that we won’t let ‘those things’ happen. Even mentally, we patch up and fill in all of the fears and worry-filled possibilities with temporary control, so we won’t be caught off guard. “I just don’t want to lose control, or be caught unaware- that is why I imagine all of these things,” we think. But be honest with yourself, are these mantras and safe-guards the words God told us? Or did he give you words that speak of your value, and to not be afraid? Has he given you specific scriptures, and been faithful in the past?
When we find a man meditating on the words of God, my friends, that man is full of boldness and is successful. -Dwight L. Moody
I’m learning so much about the more you believe what He says, and walk in Faith, the more he reveals he is faithful! I am barely scratching the surface, but that is just one aspect of belief in Him. Again, the more you walk in Faith, the more you see How Faithful he is.
I will worship toward Your holy temple,And praise Your nameFor Your lovingkindness and Your truth;For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.Psalm 138:2
A few weeks ago, I was running along the underground of a city bridge. It has all of the topographical features of graffiti, bits of gravel, and run down sleeping bags, mixed with the upper- scale passersby. I noticed a scruffy-laden guy in a brown-hooded sweatshirt in my periphery, walking towards the stairs heading to the top, as I run past to catch the onramp leading to the same overhead. When I winded around and arrived at the top, I noticed he was 10 steps ahead of me.
I hadn’t realized that that’s where we would meet again, but as I came closer, I read the back of his wind-trodden sweatshirt that said in English, “Punk won’t die”. I wouldn’t have thought twice about him, until I passed by, and saw the distress and sadness on his face. In all views, except One, he would have been the one to pass by without a second thought.
Have you seen those faces? You can see the pain in their thoughts-etched on their face, as they pass on by. This was the continuous cultural clash and spiritual battle I had encountered over the years; them expecting suspiciousness in my joy, and not knowing ‘all the words’ of the language.
But God spoke to me gently.
My love is greater than your fear.
All of the boldness I had prayed for lately, had come to an outpouring. It was like trying to hold my hand over a full-pressured garden hose. Something was going to make it’s way out!
I reasoned with myself, to stall time, Maybe I’ll just stop and take pictures of the Danube as he comes by, so I don’t just Come at him!
As he drew closer, hardened but hurting, I asked him if he spoke English.
He answered no. Knowing my Hungarian was at a low, we began an unculturally audacious conversation. I just knew that this guy was very specific in this moment. I wasn’t going to just let him go. I brokenly asked where he lived assuming it was under the bridge, and he began to spout out in a crackling, hushed voice an address. Well, what’s your name? “Fabian,” he answered. He began to say something like, “Néma”, and to me that sounded like the Hungarian word for “German” but it wasn’t what he meant. I went on to ask him how old he was. “27”, he repressed.
The Lord prompted me put my arm on his shoulder to say, “Jézus szeret téged!” Jesus Loves you! For what I couldn’t see in the spiritual realm, I can trust Jesus’ name lifted up in the darkest cloud; it can change a person. I told him that I would pray for him in broken Hungarian, and began to run away.
God spoke to my heart again.
Let My love be Greater than your fear.
And it hit me. I couldn’t run away. God was showing me His heart for him. I was so filled with love for this guy that it overcame any fear.
There is no fear in Love. But perfect Love drives out fear. 1 John 4:18
I turned around and ran toward him again. In my broken Hungarian, I said, “Imádkozzunk.” “Most.” Let’s pray. Now. As I prayed for him, I could feel that he was looking at me. But if I could tell him with no restraint, I would say, “Jesus love you!” so it came out. He stared at me for a while, but there was a kindness in his eyes. I patted him on the back. And then I ran away.
Don’t believe the things that are ALWAYS said about the way we are supposed to think, act or Love. That is truly just covering all of your fears with patches of unbelief. God is able to overcome any difference with creativity, but not with unbelief.
"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 10:24
And if I am to exercise the difference of true joy versus the fear of ‘being too American”, then God will bring them to another, if not me again, to reveal His true love for them and that we’re not faking it.
Be bold, Friends. Be weird and wild. Be in Christ. When we remain in Him, we can do anything in His name.
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12-14
Just a little, beautiful note. When I came home to share the story with my kids, they stopped me at the word “Néma.” They translated it before my very ears. "Mom, that means Mute. He can’t speak.”
Tears came tumbling down my face.
God gave me a little nugget of His Love and Faithfulness. His Love does surpass the barrier of cultural unbelief. In all of my cultural stops of believing what I’ve been told that I COULD NOT reach the culture without the language, the Lord defied that the moment I stepped out.
Nobody would have gotten past the first words, if they HAD spoken his language, because HE CAN’t SPEAK! They may have given up naturally. But God chose the one who could not speak, to exercise HIS POWER!
His LOVE is greater than any barrier. His love is greater than my fears.
For if what is passing away glorious,
what remains much more glorious.
Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—
2 Corinthians 3:11-12