Once again, it’s time to hear from our sister in Jerusalem about what she is witnessing there as a believer in Yeshua. Put your prayer shawls on and pray for Israel and Sister J. Now here she is …
Dearest Sisters and Brothers of like-precious faith, I greet you for His glory and blessing. May you be blessed and encouraged as we grow together in the knowledge of Him Who Alone is worthy of all praise!
Shalom. Once again I should be headed to bed but so want to share with you from the smelting pot of testing and grace.
The streets and public transportation of Jerusalem afford me a peculiar set of eyeglasses to see this city. I had a couple of interesting encounters this past week that reminded me of the vantage point that I have and the obligation I feel to share it.
The first event took place on my beloved bus. Coming home from work I see many of the same faces day after day, even as tired as I am. We nod, sometimes exchange a few words, but being a crowded public bus, there are always new people on board as well. I groaned with relief as I fell into a seat the other day, next to a woman about my own age. I had been standing for much of the ride and it felt so good to be sitting.
As I watched others boarding the already packed bus, a rather disheveled, large woman boarded and walked toward the back. The bus driver called her forward and there was some jostling and soon quite a bit of noise. The woman was yelling. At first I couldn’t make out what was going on, but she was speaking English and it soon became clear. She hadn’t paid and refused to pay. She began yelling, cursing the Jews, cursing Israel and all Israelis. She was neither Jewish nor Arab from her looks. The entire bus cringed. She threw the money at the driver. The woman next to me said, “Oh! I would have given her money for her ticket. Some people can’t afford it. I would give the money…”
All around me men and women cringed in pain and I recognized it. I wonder if I can describe it. It is a particular pain that comes when your race is being hated. We are surely not alone in feeling that. Arabs feel that…Blacks feel that…Hispanics… Orientals… Caucasians…ALL people have likely felt that. Some get angry. Some ignore it. I have noticed that Jews and Israelis usually cringe with pain. The whole bus was cringing with pain.
The woman next to me said again, “Poor woman. She is crazy. Maybe she doesn’t have any money. We are not all bad, are we?”
I told her about an old woman at my work that had an even older Mother, nearly one hundred. The Mother was blind and ill, but every Friday morning she would feel her way down the stairs to the street and give a shekel to a beggar who came at the same time. When her daughter saw her do this one day, she said, “Mama, why are you doing this?”
Her mother answered, “Ora, even a beggar should be able to have flowers for Shabat.”
That started the ball rolling. Stories began to pour forth, hidden gifts given anonymously for years, different ways that people could help one another without fanfare. I kept turning the conversation back to God and my seat mate smiled and said, “You know, I may not LOOK like it (she was wearing pants, so obviously not religious) but I love God and fear Him too.”
I smiled and said, “Oh, so do I. And His Word says that He doesn’t look on the outward, but on the heart.”
She asked, “Do you think that God sees this?”
Our ride was right at the end now but I smiled at her, squeezed her hand, and said, “I KNOW that He does.”
We bid each other a very warm “shalom” and parted ways, but I wondered about the bus encounters and the juxtaposition of people and events and the prevalence of hatred.
I thought of the cursing bus-woman again today as I had a totally different encounter. I was in the shuk. I have described the shuk to you countless times, but will just remind you that amongst all of the food vendors there are also small open-air shops that sell dry goods, clothing, and all manner of merchandise. I stopped to look at a light-weight bag hanging from the roof of a tiny 3 walled shop. Spoken English always catches my ear and there was the young Ethiopian-descent shop owner speaking English with an older black woman who had a thick French accent. As I listened, she explained to him that her daughter had married a Jewish man. They moved here from France. It was her first time visiting and the language was hard for her. The young man asked her what she thought of the country.
“I think it is good,” she said. “There is just something here that I can’t explain, that is good. They are happy too.”
The young man said, “I have lived in Canada and in Australia but this is the best place in the world. It is the place that we have to be and it is wonderful.”
Now I REALLY paid attention.
The woman went on, “There is something…well…different about the people here. They take time to talk to you. They help you. They are kind and smile at you. It is not like people in France.”
My mind jumped back to the cursing bus lady earlier in the week. The young man saw me looking at them and asked me if I needed help. I answered in Hebrew and said, “Oh no, I am fine but excuse me for intruding, it is just so wonderful hearing this conversation.”
He smiled and I said, “I agree. This is the place that God has called us back to and the place where He said that He would bless us if we turn to Him.”
We kept the line of discussion going and he asked me where I was from. As I shared I felt as if we were in sort of a bubble separated from the rest of the world. We were all smiling and there was real warmth being exchanged.
Up until this time I had been speaking in Hebrew and the young man would translate for the woman. She turned to him and said, “Doesn’t this woman shine? I mean there is such a Light coming from her from inside.”
I was taken aback. It has seemed a long time since I heard those words and I wasn’t feeling particularly spiritual. I said, “If there is any Light in me it is the Light of God in Yeshua. He Is The Light who called us here.”
I surprised myself, but they didn’t seem to hear me say this. They just kept smiling and the atmosphere was permeated with such a love.
The two encounters made me think again about how MUCH our response to EVERY situation is so important. David responded to the words of the prophet Nathan pointing out his sin with Bat Sheva by saying: “IT IS ME LORD. I HAVE SINNED BEFORE YOU.”
Saul responded to the words of the prophet Samuel pointing out his sin of disobedience by saying, “IT IS NOT ME. I HAVE OBEYED THE LORD”
Two kings and two different responses.
I don’t know what caused the cursing woman on the bus to arrive at the state that she was in. But I think of things common to man: rejection, hurt, offense, deep wounds, and sin. These things are danger points in our lives. We can respond by growing angry, bitter, hurt, but these things turn us AWAY from God. God HAS a proper response for us to give when awful things happen to us. Simply put, we will either turn to God and embrace His strong medicine, or turn AWAY from God and sink in the mire of our own emotions, the world’s answers or counterfeit solutions.
Here I go again…telling you stuff that you already know when I need to go to bed. Oh BLESSINGS to you dear sisters and brothers. May we each press more and more into Him Who really IS the only way, Truth and Light. Love from your sister in the midst