Sunday, January 18, 2009

Lord Willing, part 1

As I boarded the tiny prop plane with 20 or so other people, I prayed. Jesus, this trip is in your hands, accomplish your will. My family was at the forefront of my mind. Father, be with my mom, my dad, as they receive the email detailing what we are about to do. Cast out fear in their hearts Lord.  The arid summer air turned into stifling heat inside the poorly ventilated plane and the undeniable stench of sweaty men without deodorant filled my nostrils. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  I stowed my duffle bag under my seat, and it's contents gave me pause. Lord God, please, don't let the guards search our bags thoroughly. A single tear found a path down my cheek as we left the safety and relative familiarity of France, and memories of my homeland flooded my senses. Lord thank you for the freedoms I have in America. Thank you for bringing me to France and opening my eyes and my heart. I am going, God, but I want to go home again. Please let me go home again. 

The pilot made some announcements--I had to assume they were standard protocol since they were given in Arabic--and we taxied down the runway. The plane lifted and I was officially at the point of no return. 

Throughout the flight we played some card games, sang quietly, and read books we had brought along.  I could read the emotions that traversed across my teammates' eyes and they mirrored my own; Excitement and Confidence meshed with Fear and Reality. We all talked and even smiled, but we lacked the laughter that had marked our trip in the previous two weeks. 

The pilot came over the intercom, and we politely listened. Repeatedly he declared: 

In šāʾ Allāh
If Allah Wills

This plane will land at 3:00 if Allah wills.

Lord, this plane is under your control alone, I thought. It was a thought, a prayer and a plea all at the same time. I did not want to be at the mercy of this god of Tunisia I had began to understand in my 2 weeks in France. You, o Lord, are in control of all things and my life rests in your hands, amen.

But three words, If Allah Wills, would forever change my life. 

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