Kairos, Part 2

One of my favorite things about having an active, healthy relationship (never perfect, but hopefully always growing!) with Jesus is the hindsight. Looking back on my life and seeing so clearly (sometimes even so blatantly obviously) his hand at work is such a joy and is often what moves me to deeper devotion and commitment to him.

Two months and three days ago, I wrote a blog post about kairos. Exactly one week after posting the blog, I received a call from Azusa Pacific University (APU) to come in for an interview. And now, two months and three days later, I have ended my tenure at University College and begin my new job at APU tomorrow.

Whew, does our God move quickly when he’s movin’ and shakin’. The scary-exciting thing is I don’t think he’s done yet, either.

Kairos, a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens.

The past two weeks have had me experiencing all the emotions that come with leaving a job and community I love, and transitioning to a similar yet unfamiliar new job and community. Friday was especially overwhelming, and it hasn’t sunk in yet that tomorrow I won’t be at “Donuts & Devotions” in the morning, won’t get to catch up and collaborate with my friends in our weekly managers meeting in the afternoon, won’t be able to (lovingly) prank my colleagues anymore… Actually, that last one I’ll still do, just will need to be more creative now.

The verse of my heart song remains the same: “Call me,” says the Lord, “and I’ll show you great and mighty things you have not yet seen.”

I am scared, optimistic, nervous, and excited to step into this new season, and am ready to embrace whatever God’s got in store for me. Just like when Hobbits trust Gandalf, once I decide to trust God and commit to the new adventures he’s calling me to, excitement and enthusiasm overtake me. I know there will be times of doubt (I am, after all, human), but my God is greater and stronger and never fails.

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”


The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos and kairosChronos, as one might infer, refers to chronological and sequential time and is where the word chronology comes from. The word kairos signifies a time lapse, a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens. Kairos is a propitious moment for decision or action, a time when conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial action; the opportune and decisive moment. In the New Testament, kairos (used approximately 81 times) means the appointed time in the purpose of God, the time when God acts. Mark 1:15 – “Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.'”

“This is the right time, and this is the right thing” – Sir Thomas More


On Monday, January 25th, a good friend and colleague of mine had her last day at work. She’d been offered a job to coordinate for weddings at a high-end florist she’d been doing part-time work for. Not a hard choice, really, save for leaving a community she loved and who loved and cherished her. But no one blamed her for leaving HR to work with the flowers and bridezillas (I’m sure there are bridezillas) of Beverly Hills.

Four days later, she was admitted to the hospital and began her first round of chemotherapy for leukemia (AML). I was already missing my friend when she left us for Fleurish, but now the missing is bittersweet. Julia is a Christian and is surrounded by a family of strong believers, and she’s responding really well to treatment (click here to check out her Caring Bridge site, and click here to donate).

But after hearing the news, last weekend was a hard one for me. We had no idea how Julia would respond to treatment, and diagnosis like this one was hard to swallow; it was so unexpected, she’s so young, etc. I spent the weekend reflecting on my own life, wondering if there was enough carpe diem going on. What was I wasting time on, what did I need to be spending more time on, was I doing what I wanted to do?

On Monday, February 1st, Julia’s mom posted a journal entry in which she highlights an encounter her husband had with another patient’s family member that led to Julia’s family praying for the man and his hospitalized father. Reading this, I was reminded of a professor’s lesson about kairos.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller


God is always at work, whether we recognize it or not. Instead of worrying about my own agenda and plans for my life and being nervous about not having enough carpe diem going on (what’s the next step for me professionally, when will I start dating my future husband, should I dye my hair red again [I did], to list a few), I needed to fix my focus wholly on Jesus.

Modern rhetorical definitions of kairos agree that knowledge, awareness, and action are key to making the most of a kairos moment or season.

If I am not in a living, breathing, growing relationship with Jesus, I will not recognize his voice or his hand at work. Over the past couple years I have often described my relationship with Christ as a partnership. The older I get, the more confident I am in this partnership, and the easier it is for me to trust that this human will never know the future but that she can walk boldly into it with Jesus as her fearless leader. A weekend of wallowing (accompanied by a day of rain and an oncoming cold) was but a momentary lapse, and the rest of my week was spent in prayer and reflection on this season I’m in and what journey God is leading me on.

Lately, I have felt an acceleration of moments, as if they’re swirling about me like leaves swirled around Pocahontas and her compass. I’m noticing more and more little and larger kairos moments happening. I feel as if I am heading into a kairos moment bigger than I’ve ever experienced before. It’s the anticipation that makes the pleasure, said the wrapper of a Dove’s dark chocolate candy once.

And so I end this post with the verse that’s been my heart song these past few years:

“Call me, says the Lord, and I’ll show you great and mighty things you have not yet seen.” – Jeremiah 33:3

A Prayer for Peace

From My Prayer Book:

O Father of all people and Ruler of nations, who would have all people dwell together in peace and unity, raise up, we ask You, leaders in every land who will choose peace instead of war and direct their people in pathways of friendship and understanding toward others.

Help us all in our respective places to seek justice, to cultivate righteousness, and to walk humbly before You. Remove all pride from our hearts. Give us understanding minds so that, regardless of race or nationality, color or station in life, we may realize that we are all of the same flesh and blood, Your common creation.

You have offered to all of us the Gospel of forgiveness and reconciling peace through the precious blood of Your dear Son. Grant us all the grace to accept Your terms of reconciliation, and let me, too, enjoy the forgiveness of all my sin. I ask You, because of Your pardon to us, to make us forgiving, thoughtful, and considerate of one another. Grant that we of this generation may live side by side in quietness and peace, recognizing that each one of us has rights and privileges given to us by You in Your goodness of heart.

Restrain the efforts of those who would sow seeds of hatred and ill will among nations. Bless all efforts for peace. Direct the course of this world that Your will may be done and Your kingdom come. Cause quiet and order to prevail everywhere, that the message of Your Gospel may without any obstacle or hindrance be carried to the far corners of the earth; for the sake of Him who died and rose again that we might live forever.



There has been a strange quiet ever since I returned from Japan, and it is unsettling. Every time I travel, whether locally or abroad, I return from great adventures to a life that feels quite ordinary. One day I am eating caught-that-morning scallops and exploring Shinto shrines, the next I am stuck in a cubicle and staring at a computer screen, eating a pb&j. Life has felt the same for a while now, and suddenly eight years have passed since I first moved to Los Angeles.

I am restless.


I went to church twice today. After knowing Jesus for so many years, I am less surprised and more delighted at how his truth for me finds me no matter where I am. (Sometimes, it is less delightful and more “Okay, God, I get it!” There were many times in college when what was shared in chapel was the same topic we’d discuss in my life-changing New Testament class [taught by the wonderful Dr. John Wright] which would then be the same message preached by the pastor in church that weekend.)

This morning at Hope Christian Fellowship, Pastor Mike spoke about generational bondage and strongholds, and how sin has a ripple effect through generations. In Matthew 23:29-39, the Pharisees (those hypocrites) tried to make the excuse that they would not have done as their ancestors did, but Jesus called them out and said that they have done exactly as their ancestors did, murdering prophets and sages and teachers. The Pharisees were exactly the same as their ancestors, and deceiving themselves and others by claiming they were different. But then we heard testimony how with Christ we can break free from these strongholds, that we do not have continue the family line and be who our ancestors were.

Stronghold: a place dominated by a particular group or marked by a particular characteristic; a place of security or survival.

I have two strongholds in my family: divorce and broken families, and God’s enduring faithfulness. I will break free from one, and cling to the other.

Jesus says to the Pharisees “look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say ‘blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord'” (Matthew 23:38-39). The fourth commandment reminds us that God is a jealous God and that he punishes “the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me” (Deuteronomy 5:9b). This is almost too much to comprehend. It’s overwhelming to think that Sin has such an effect not only on my life but on the lives of so many others. And then there is anger and bitterness that my life is affected by the sins of my ancestors.

But the very next verse holds a great promise, one that my family has experienced personally for nearly 400 years. Deuteronomy 5:10 says that God, though he be a jealous one, shows “love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” My ancestor John Robinson was the pastor of the “Pilgrim Fathers,” and even though he sent his congregation to the New World in 1619, my family is still only 16 generations in to the thousand that God promised. Whew, how exciting! I feel the blessing of this promise, and the privilege to be a part of continuing that promise to future generations.

This evening at Fellowship Monrovia, Pastor Becky spoke about faith in action, citing Hebrews 11 as examples of people who lived their life in faith: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Sarah. The list could go on. These were not just people who lived faith in action, but they lived in the hope and promises of what God had yet to do. “These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth,” (vs. 13). They all lived not for the promises on earth, but for the promises of God’s heavenly kingdom.

It is so easy, especially as a sinner in a fallen world, to remember the failures and forget the faithfulness. And this sinful, human flesh of mine wants to see promises delivered here on earth: the perfect job, the perfect husband, the perfect family, the perfect retirement plan (complete with a little bookshop in England with a flat above where my perfect husband and I can spend the last of our days, cozy in front of a fire, drinking tea, and reading to our hearts’ content). “Well done, good and faithful servant,” but I want my reward here on earth, too.

Becky challenged me tonight. I don’t serve Jesus for my reward here on earth. (That actually sounds gross, writing “reward.” I think I have claim to a reward??) Living for the heavenly kingdom means letting go of the earthly one. How, then, does my faith change? How does the way I hope for things change, if God’s promises to me extend beyond my earthly life? Is living for God’s promises truly enough?


There are things I need to stop; there are things I need to start. I feel I am on the cusp of a new season, and I am restless. After hearing from God today, I feel that restlessness turning into renewed hope and excitement. I long for a better a heavenly kingdom, one God has prepared for us.

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis


Hallelujah Anyhow

On Sunday we joined the Be One team (a mix of missionaries from different churches/denominations) at The Rock for church. One of the Be One members, Joey Millard, preached on Acts 16:25-34 and how Paul and Silas worshipped God in spite of their circumstances. He talked about what it takes to turn our words from grumbling to praise and that it is a change of attitude. This is a choice we are free to make in every circumstance – grumble, or praise; moaning or praise; crying or praise.

He ended the sermon by recalling an old gospel song he loves (the irony, he said, is that he only listens to gospel music once a year and that’s at the annual gospel festival which just happened on Saturday), “Hallelujah Anyhow.”

No matter what comes my way,

I’ll lift my voice and say,

hallelujah anyhow.

Oh, yes Lord, me, too. Though I am sore from sleeping on the floor and am perpetually perspiring on account of the humidity and can never seem to get enough coffee, hallelujah anyhow. I only have wifi in the evenings back at the house and the shower is too short (though maybe I am too tall – I have to duck everywhere!) and I have not had sushi yet, but hallelujah anyhow.

Monday morning found us bright and early with a 40-minute drive to a nearby costal village. We joined up with another L.A. church (whose leader teaches at APU and whom I’ve met before – small world) and we were dropped off at different job sites around the village for a day of work alongside local farmers and fishermen.

My group’s task for the day was to shuck barnacles from lead weights used by the fishermen to keep their nets taut and in one place in the water. Little by little, we learned about the fisherman we were helping. He used to be the fire chief, and used to have workers who would help him with his scallops business. We also learned that this little garage-sized hut that housed the “factory” we’d been working at all day stands on the site where his house used to stand.

Hallelujah anyhow.

Everyone here remembers where they were on March 11, 2011. We have yet to meet someone who can talk about it without tearing up and getting lost in vivid memories. Some have not yet been able to clean up and repair the damage to their homes. We have been told many times by both the missionaries here and by the locals that lots of people helped immediately after the tsunami, but that it is the Christians who keep coming.

Culturally, the Japanese people are very polite, kind, and reserved. It takes relationships to win them over, not just gifts or acts of service – it takes time. The missionaries here emphasize and prioritize relationships over any task or chore we may do while we are here. Prayers are full of pleading for soft hearts, wisdom for discernment, and time to spend with the people of Ishinomaki. Servant leadership is on full display here with the Be One group, and they give most freely of their time.

Hallelujah anyhow.

Selfishly, this is why I do short-term missions – perspective. My “hallelujah anyhow” is a lot different from Paul’s. It is a lot different from the Be One group and the Christians here in Ishinomaki. But my “hallelujah anyhow” has value, too, when used wisely. Go ahead and roll your eyes at me for the things I mentioned above – I certainly did as I wrote them. Yes, they are “hallelujah anyhow” moments for me, but honestly? I know better than that. 

But there are seasons in life when it seems too hard to do anything but put one foot in front of the other, times when I worry if God has forgotten about me, times when I feel like I am on my own. We all have unknown battles we are fighting, and it is in these battles that we cry out “hallelujah anyhow.” There is a lot of pain and fear in these cries, but cry out I must. My battles are not insignificant compared to the battles of Ishinomaki; my battles are different. And I thank God with all my heart that He is bigger than everything. Just as he provides and cares for the birds (see? they’re everywhere!), so he provides for me, the Be One team, and the people of Ishinomaki.

Hallelujah anyhow.

Hallelujah anyhow.

Japan – thoughts after just 14 hours here.

It is a strange thing to be in another country where they do not speak English and they also do not speak Spanish. I found myself trying to default to Spanish upon hearing a language that was not English and that I did not understand. “Gracias” does not mean “thank you” in Japan; “arrigato” means “thank you” in Japan. Spanish is my comfort zone, my security blanket, for when I am hearing unfamiliar language, and here it does me no good. There is still unspoken language, however, and that has served me well. My eyes wide open, accompanied by a big grin, and constant bowing seem to get across how grateful I am for all the assistance I have received.

Tokyo itself, what I’ve seen of it in the past 12 hours so far, is for the most part exactly what one would expect. My expectations are a little off, but this is most likely due to my recent viewing of “The Last Samauri.” (Japan, as it turns out, is not still in the late 1800s.) There are lots of people, but polite people. Busy people. Lots going on here in Tokyo, even at 9:30pm. The weather is humid, but it is not too hot yet so the humidity is bearable in shorts and a tank top. I literally forgot to bring pants on this trip, but think I will manage just fine with only shorts and one skirt. Lots of bright lights, smells of savory food, and sounds of busy traffic. I will be ending my trip with two days of sightseeing in Tokyo, so I will have lots more to share in a week.

Figuring out the trains – where to buy tickets, how to buy tickets, which platform to wait on – is tricky. Most of the signs also have English on them, but not all. And did I mention the busy people? They are patient when you get in their way, but barely. We had been told that Americans are given quite a lot of grace here in Japan, and I have definitely seen that. Whenever I travel, I try to not be the stereotypical “dumb American.” I try to be respectful of local customs, traditions, behaviors, etc., participating in the culture here and trying new foods and drinks (instead of sticking to McDonalds and Starbucks, both of which are right outside the train station), and I like to think that generally I succeed. Even so, there is not a lot I can do to hide my blue eyes, blonde hair, and freckles.

I definitely would have been overwhelmed coming here on my own for the first time. But now, even after less than a day here, I know I would be fine to navigate around on my own.

I have often said that my experience living abroad opened my heart and soul to foreign experiences, that it keeps wanderlust close to the surface, and that it has made me ready for whatever adventure God has next in store for me. This current adventure has been an exciting one so far, and I look forward to the days ahead!

Keep praying for me, the team, and the missionaries we are partnering with here. Everyone is in good health and good spirits so far, but I suspect jet lag has yet to catch up to us…

Stay tuned!


Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about birds.

According to local legend, many parrots were released during a 1958 fire which destroyed Simpson’s Gardenland and Bird Farm in Pasadena. The most common breed of parrot still living in Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley is the Red-Crowned Amazon.

So I get to see and hear these beauties every morning:

Red-Crowned Amazons (Photo credit: Salvatore Angius)

Red-Crowned Amazons (Photo credit: Salvatore Angius)

I grew to love them when I first moved to the San Gabriel Valley back in July 2013 (I’m an early riser, so their morning chatter never woke me), and I actively missed them when they migrated south to Mexico for the winter.

But they’re back now, and I look forward to hearing and seeing them every morning.

And then last week writer/comedian Jon Acuff reposted something he wrote last year about birds. You can read the original blog post here, but the part that still lingers with me is this:

“In Matthew 6:26, Jesus tells us to look at the birds of the air. He intones that “they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Have you ever thought about how common birds are?

You can find them on every continent. In fact, scientists estimate there are 200 to 400 billion birds on the planet.

Have you ever thought about the kindness of Jesus, using birds as his example?

He could have picked any rare animal in the world, but he didn’t. Instead, he picks one that blankets the planet. One you’d find in Antarctica or hundreds of miles out to sea. One you’ll see in the city or the suburbs, the desert or the jungle.

He picked one that’s everywhere.


Because that’s where God’s love for you is too.

Look at the birds.”

So this morning, when the birds and I were waking up at 5:45, I was reminded of Jesus’ analogy and of the abundance of God’s love for me.

And that has made all the difference.

Instead of being cranky because it’s only Wednesday, I need to go grocery shopping, I’ve lots of never-ending homework to do, and the birds won’t let me snooze, I woke up feeling like Cinderella from the 1950 Disney animated film.

Cinderella and her birds.

The next time you’re annoyed or bothered by birds (or as my friend Vanessa calls them, “mocking, slumber-stealing beasts”), remember that Jesus used them to remind us of God’s love for us.

It’s everywhere.

Reflections: On “The Lion King,” and Nelson Mandela

Yesterday, December 5, 2013, was a big day.

As I was running around yesterday doing errands and getting my hair cut and highlighted, I read the news that former South African president Nelson Mandela had passed away. 

I must admit that my knowledge of Mandela and his story in South Africa is pretty limited. I vaguely remember hearing as a child when he was released from prison (I was just seven years old at the time), but all I knew was that he’d been in jail for a really long time. I don’t remember hearing about what happened after that, though. It probably wasn’t until high school that he came onto my radar as the leader who led South Africa through ending apartheid.

And that is still pretty much all I know about Mandela. After his term in office ended (just four years!), he continued his works of activism and philanthropy, eventually “retiring from retirement” in 2004 due to his health problems.

Clint Eastwood directed and produced the film Invictus (2009), which chronicles Mandela in his first term as the South African President and how he initiated a unique venture to unite the apartheid-torn land: enlist the national rugby team on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

I’d not seen the film until just two weeks ago when we watched it one night in my grad school class (yep, back in school!). Now I get it, a little bit, the impact Mandela has on his country. So when I read the news that Mandela had passed away, I felt the heaviness and grief of not just South Africa, but the whole world.


Fast forward through a hectic drive to Hollywood and an intimate meal with an old friend to 7:30pm which found me in literally THE most perfect seat in which to see Disney’s “The Lion King” on stage at the Pantages Theatre. With me were the aforementioned old friend (Nick), as well as my cousin and his wife (Nate and Sara).

My cousins had seen the show before, but eleven years ago. For me and Nick, it was our first time seeing The Lion King on stage. (Random note: my cousin Nate has never seen the Disney cartoon “The Lion King.” I suspect his children will change this within the next few years.)

The show was truly fantastic.



That opening note (you know the one) sent me into a wave of goosebumps, and the goosebumps remained throughout the rest of the song. It’s an overwhelming number, with emotions running the gamut, a spectrum of colors everywhere, a pulse-pounding score, and amazing puppetry.

And that’s pretty much how the rest of the show went.

A friend of mine is in the touring cast, so that made seeing the show extra special. He is a member of the ensemble as well as the understudy for Banzai the Hyena. We messaged briefly during intermission, and when I told him I’d already teared up three times and was basically a mess of goosebumps the whole first act, he replied that that means the production is doing their job!

When the show ended, the cast stayed onstage and did a brief call for donations to benefit local charities in Los Angeles and Broadway Cares, which was neat, especially going into the holiday season.

Then the cast asked us all to stand with them while cast members from South Africa shared a brief farewell and sang the South African national anthem in honor of their beloved Madiba, Nelson Mandela. I felt honored to join them in celebrating Mandela and sending him off to rest in well-deserved peace.

I am grateful for this quiet morning I’ve had to reflect and write about what happened yesterday. It was a wonderful way to kick off my birthday celebrations, and a fitting way to honor a great man.

I will leave you with this: go see the show if it’s ever at a theatre close to you and be prepared to experience a beloved story in a new and fresh way, and be inspired and motivated by Mandela and the life he lived.

“Oh yes, the past can hurt. But from the way I see it, you can either run from it, or… learn from it.” – Rafiki

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” – Mandela


You’re Reading It Wrong

I follow some monks on Facebook and Twitter, and they’re very often hilarious and just a little sacrilegious. Sometimes I don’t quite get the joke (are they really monks? do they live in an abbey? are there unvirtuous nuns?), and sometimes they share something so simple and so profound and so “DUH!” that you just have to share.

Here’s today’s wisdom from Unvirtuous Abbey:

If reading the Bible leads you to hating people, you’re reading it the wrong way.

I wish I could just keep sharing this over and over again until everyone gets it. Maybe bigger font?

If reading the Bible leads you to hating people, you’re reading it the wrong way.

The Pulley

On this, the National Day of Encouragement, I want to encourage you to learn how to rest, truly rest, in Jesus.

The Pulley

When God at first made man,

Having a glass of blessings standing by,

“Let us,” said he, “pour on him all we can.

Let the world’s riches, which dispersed lie,

Contract into a span,”


So strength first made a way;

Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure.

When almost all was out, God made a stay.

Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure,

Rest in the bottom lay.


“For if I should,” said he,

“Bestow this jewel also on my creature,

He would adore my gifts instead of me,

And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature;

So both should losers be.”


“Yet let him keep the rest,

But keep them with repinning restlessness;

Let him be rich and weary, that at least,

If goodness lead him not, yet weariness

May toss him to my breast.”


– George Herbert (1633)

Joy In Syria: A Father’s Unrestrained Joy Upon The Return Of His Son

The video (embedded below) is (according to the Washington Post) “from the southwestern Syrian town of Zamalka, that was posted online Monday by Syrian activists. The footage shows a father reuniting with his young son, who he thought had been killed, as thousands of Syrian children have been, in a recent attack by regime forces.”

There are two things I want to point out before you watch the video, and afterward I’ll share a few thoughts with you.

First, the man whom we first see with the child is not the father (though perhaps a relative – the kid is clearly overwhelmed, yet not totally alarmed).

The child’s father finally exits the house about a minute into the video (he’s in gray pants and a white t-shirt). This is when cries of “Allāhu Akbar” (Arabic for “God is the greatest”) start filling the air.

Now turn the sound up (I recommend headphones), make sure you won’t be interrupted, and watch the video in its entirety.

My first reaction was to cry. And cry I did (at work, in my cubicle). I cried along with these men as the celebrated with the father. I cried with the child as he cried from being overwhelmed and probably a little frightened at all of the commotion and recent trauma. I cried with the father, as he quietly wept while kissing and just staring at his son.

And in the midst of my empathetic tears, God spoke a quite word to me. He said, “This, Emily, this is a glimpse of my joy in you. This is a little bit what it’s like when a child returns to me.”

Ah, the father’s joy at the lost son’s return. The story of the prodigal son. I get it now, what the end of the story means.

Luke 15:24 – ‘For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

I think that this verse has been somewhat lost in translation in my American culture. I personally don’t think I’ve ever seen such unrestrained emotion from my father or from any man. True, my father has never thought I was dead, but you get my point. And it’s not that my father doesn’t show emotion, he does – just not to the visible extent of the men in this video.

I’m not writing this to debate the quality or quantity of emotion in men, but rather I want to point out the context in which Luke wrote down this parable. For a Middle Eastern culture in the time period of Jesus’ life, the phrase “and they began to celebrate” would’ve have a different connotation than it perhaps does for us today (I’m thinking the celebration in this video vs a tailgate party before the Super Bowl).

The second thing that struck me with this video was how instantly one of the men began to chant “Allāhu Akbar” as soon as he saw child reunited with father.

Setting aside the religion and debate about which god he’s praising… It made an impression on me how it was this man’s first and most insistent reaction to praise his god. Repeatedly. Over and over, getting louder and louder as other joined him.

I try to live a life that is constantly praising God and giving thanks to him, but I must admit that it’s not always my first reaction. Or if it is my first reaction, I say it once or twice and that’s it.

But this man couldn’t seem to stop loudly praising. It seemed almost compulsory at times, as if his body simply didn’t know what else to do except shout “Allāhu Akbar.”

I have a feeling that this reaction was largely due to habit. The habit of praying five times a day (which, to this busy American, sounds overwhelmingly like an all-day thing), praying the ritual prayers of Salah, is intended to focus the mind on God and is seen as a personal communication with him that expresses gratitude and worship.

Tradition and ritual like this is something I’ve been missing in my own Christian walk, so this video is serving as a good reminder that it’s up to me to develop the habit – God is always ready and waiting for me.

So I’ll leave you with a few reminders. Remember to keep praying for peace in Syria, peace in large and small ways. Be encouraged and feel cherished by God, remembering that he loves you even more than the father in this video loves his son. And remember to develop a habit of expressing gratitude to God, so that your primal reaction to surprising events is to praise him.