What Nabeel taught me

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“If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday……” Isaiah 58:10

Nabeel Qureshi 1983-2017

I read this book several years ago and since then I have followed Nabeel Qureshi’s podcasts and speeches via the RZIM website. (On the bottom is the tribute written by Ravi Zacharias who knew Nabeel very well).

I write this today because as many others who followed this young man via social media, I was deeply saddened to learn of his cancer and subsequent death earlier this year. Nabeel taught me something very important, and that is that a part of me needed healing. Through his actions of love toward everyone, including those who intended him harm and even rejoiced in his death, he reminded me of how Jesus wants us to love and that I needed more of that in my heart. Even love for the most radical, the most hateful.

The kind of love Jesus had even as He was being nailed to that ugly cross.

Nabeel taught me that as much as I might want to, I can’t use a wide brush to cover over a certain religion or people group. He loved until it hurt. He always debated eloquently but always answered hate with love. He met people on their terms, where they were. Nabeel allowed me to get past my hate of what Islam stands for and see the person behind the religion. The person as an individual.

There is a big old house that I used to pass by on my way to work. I am sure at one time it was a beautiful building, but now it houses a large group of Muslim men (I never see any women). Every now and then I see them gathered on the front porch. It’s a sad-looking building, neglected.

Usually the windows are closed, shades drawn. I found myself wondering what was being planned, talked about behind those walls. I found myself resenting their presence in our country. I thought of my Grandmother’s family who came here as immigrants with nothing. They asked for no healthcare or handouts, they just wanted to come here and make a positive contribution.

And then the day before I was going to post this, there was another incident. That kook in the truck yelling, “Allahu Akbar” mowing down innocent people on the bike path at the World Trade Center. I refrained from posting this. I couldn’t.

I returned to listening to Nabeel’s messages and then to his beautiful wife Michelle, who is carrying on his legacy since his death. I felt something break free in my mind and heart. I no longer felt the old ugly feelings. It’s no longer my battle who is supporting who. God is fair and just, and He is the one who blesses me so that I can pay my bills.

What Nabeel taught me is that there are hurting and lost among all people groups. What we all need is Jesus. Nabeel believed when it cost him his whole family. He believed and followed when the stakes were highest. And he never wavered.

Nabeel is missed by many people, including his wife and little girl. I don’t understand why such a bright shining star would blink out of this world so young. I don’t think God needed him in Heaven. I hate when people say that. But someday I know the picture will be complete and we will have to answers as to why some people leave this earth so soon. Until then, we can try to learn the lessons others teach us by their legacy of love and forgiveness.

Thank you Nabeel……….until we meet in Heaven.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/september-web-only/ravi-zacharias-nabeel-qureshi-apologist-rzim.html?start=1

******Further resources: I have recently finished another book called “Standing in the Fire: Courageous Christians Living in Frightening Times” by Tom Doyle. I feel it’s a must read for every Christian in America.

Every Moment Counts

He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,  that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;  for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ Acts 17:26-28
God is waiting for us to invite Him into every moment of our day, and in every aspect of our lives. Just imagine…….He is already there and ready to make every single moment a Holy moment. That is something that is entirely possible when you realize just how close He really is.
Just imagine, every moment a sacrament…..walking to work, stopping for coffee, waiting for the bus, sitting down to your desk……imagine Him there, just before the phone starts ringing.
In every real moment of our lives. He is.
I often think of those moments right before September 11, 2001. If those people had known what was about to hit?
How incredibly Holy and precious each moment would have become.
But none of us really knows at any given time what is about to happen. That is why each and every moment matters.
Each one counts……savor the day.


Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close

I don’t often recommend movies, but sometimes Hollywood messes up and does something right. I know the critics weren’t kind to this movie, but I loved it. I usually go straight to Christianity Today for my movie reviews and most of the time I agree with their reviewer. They aren’t biased and even if a film has an R rating they will rate it honestly by the film’s  creative merits with a full warning about what you might be offended at.

I sometimes think we have forgotten all about what happened on 9/11, that “Worst Day” as the film’s lead character describes it. What I most love about this film is how the story weaves this one boy’s struggle to cope with the lost of his father with all the other characters throughout the film. We get lost in his journey to hang onto his Dad by trying to search all over New York for something he felt his Dad wanted him to find.

In his search, we find out that what we all need is a little healing. Everyone he meets along the way, he finds, has lost something, and most of them embrace his search. We see our own healing, our own journey, and we remember the healing that our country went through back then.

This movie made me remember what is most important……we all need each other. We are all on a journey of healing of some kind, and we are rooting for this boy to find his all the way through the movie.

And another thought…..what would it be like if we all stopped to turn and give that healing to one another.

Remembering

September 11, 2001 was my first what I call, “Where were you moment” I thought it fitting to quote from a piece of Gordon MacDonald’s journal. He was a Pastor who volunteered as a chaplain for the Salvation Army as soon as the events unfolded that day. Here is what he wrote…..
“And more than once I asked myself–as everyone asks–is God here? And I decided that He is closer to this place than any other place I’ve ever visited. The strange irony is that, amidst this absolute catastrophe of unspeakable proportions, there is a beauty in the way human beings are acting that defies the imagination. Everyone–underscore, everyone–is every else’s brother or sister. There are no strangers among the thousands at the work site. Everyone talks; everyone cooperates; everyone does the next thing that has to be done. No job is too small, too humble, or, on the other hands, too large. Tears ran freely, affection was exchanged openly, exhaustion was defied. We all stopped caring about ourselves. The words “it’s not about me” were never more true.”
No church service, no sanctuary, no religiously inspiring service has spoken so deeply into my soul and witnessed to the presence of God as those hours last night at the crash site.
In all my years of Christian ministry, I never felt more alive that I felt last night. The only other time I can remember a similar feeling was the week that Gail and I (his wife) worked on a Habitat for Humanity project in Hungary. As much as I love preaching the Bible and all the other things that I have been privileged to do over the years, being on that street, giving cold water to workmen, praying and weeping with them, listening to their stories was the closest I have ever felt to God. Even though it sounds melodramatic; I kept finding myself saying, “This is the place where Jesus most wants to be.”
George MacDonald, volunteer Chaplain for the Salvation Army on 9/11/2001

Where isn’t God…..

“Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:2-5
I have always wondered why people who don’t really give much thought to God blame Him when catastrophes happen. They ask, “Where was God?” Most of the time they say it when especially evil people do terrible things to innocent people. Every terrible event in history it seems to come up again. I heard it concerning the Holocaust, events in Africa, every war that has ever been fought. And here at home it came up again after 9/11.
When it’s a natural disaster, the question comes up again. They say: ”Why did God allow this? I have also  heard some Christians try to pin it on God as His judgment on whoever got struck down.
Why didn’t God do something? The question should rather be, “Why didn’t we do something, or for that matter, “Why didn’t I do something?”  We are creatures of free-will, and that was given to us as a supreme gift from God. This is a sacred gift, and He will not take it away. We can use it to do good, or use it to cause tremendous grief and suffering for others. Yes, He could certainly stop all evil for good, and someday He will. But the time is not now. It has been said…..
“Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.”~British statesman Edmund Burke

The truth is, evil flourishes anyway. It just flourishes more when good people do nothing. It is the result of sin, and that is a word we don’t use much anymore.

God was watching, has been watching, and His heart has broken along with all those who have suffered loss. He has been there in every foxhole and trench, every death camp and burned village, in the towers that fell. I have heard the stories. His Spirit was there residing in people who came alongside to help, hiding people at the risk of their own life, putting people on trains to freedom, getting people to safety, jumping in front of bullets raining death.

Believe me, I understand about asking why and where when you are in deep sorrow. Some people have gone through some things so horrific, so unimaginably terrible that I can’t imagine how they got through it, are getting through it. But I do know this, it is possible to get through it victoriously with Him but not without Him.

When Jesus was on the cross they scoffed, “Where is Your God?” What they couldn’t understand was that by His very act He was saying…..”I am right here.”

“He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

If you are going through something right now that you think is unfair, unwarranted and you feel neglected and abandoned by God, please draw comfort from the fact that He is surely with you. He still loves you and He is working for your ultimate good.

Maybe you are asking where He is. He understands that. The asking is in itself an acknowledgement of Him. That is something He can work with.

photo credit: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/ Anna Cervova

In Memoriam

For the first time in 8 years, under the current Administration September 11th has been designated a national day of “service.”

It’s a good thing to volunteer, and we should do so….

For the other 364 days of the year.

Today I remember September 11, 2001 as a memorial to all who lost their lives and continue to be impacted by the horrific events of that day. How life was changed for all of us including those innocent people who were just starting their work day; grabbing that cup of coffee, firing up the computer, dropping kids off before work, talking in office doorways, all the rescue workers who never dreamed how their day would end up.

A day to pray and remember, a day to thank God for carrying us all through that terrible time, and for His continued protection and preservation.

May we never forget.