I wanted to share with you a story that a Muslim brother shared with us recently.
He shared that as a young boy he was playing at his grandmother’s home, and as young boys do, he was into everything, and as most Grandmother’s she let him have his fun. He discovered her jewelry box and was intrigued, on opening it he found many things he expected but one item was very unexpected, a small well used Bible. This grandmother was a Muslim, and her parents before her, so this was an unexpected find indeed. Fascinated by this discovery he opened it and began to read. The book it opened to was Psalms 18:6-10 & 16, and the verses that stood out in his memory:
This God was unlike anything he had heard of before. This God heard the cry of an average regular guy and He came to his rescue. This God was caring enough to shake heaven and earth and in this God’s passion He rose up to come to the rescue! This God was a god like no other he had encountered. This was a God who one could believe in and count on.
But what was this God doing in his grandmother’s jewelry box? He didn’t ask her, so we may never know. Somewhere along her life someone handed her God’s Word. She obviously valued it, used it, kept it with her prize possessions, so someone gave her a gift like no other. Who? Why did she keep it so long? The answers passed with her, but the treasure itself continued to give. That little worn Bible found a way to speak to a young Muslim boy’s heart. Now, today he is grown and still a Muslim, his questions still come from this little seed that got spilt into his heart by this little worn Bible. He is still seeking because of that little treasure, it is like a little itch that comes and goes but keeps rising and reminding him that there is a God out there who wants to rise up and fly down to pick him out of his troubles and set him on a safe place. Maybe one day he will call out to that God and be ready to be lifted up.
But this story serves as a small reminder to us all that no matter where the seed is cast, and even if we never see the little seed come up and bear fruit doesn’t mean it can’t sit in some little jewelry box awaiting some new soul to touch. Two Muslims were touched by the giving of this little Bible... that we know about, maybe many more, but it is also quite possible that the person who gave that little gift of Life never knew that it would be so treasured or read.
6“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears. The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet.
10 He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind.
16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.”
This God Rises
Muslims view God through the lens of Islam, which tells them that God isn't a personal God. They are always impressed and delighted to hear stories of how God intevened in a personal way to help. This is why our own stories can be the most powerful ones! When we allow others to see how God is working in our lives we are making the most challenging argument for our faith!
For I know who I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able!
Muhammad apparently heard the story that Christ shared about the Prodigal son and the loving father. He stated in the Quran, “Allah does not love the prodigal”. His take on the prodigal son was so significantly different it shows us the real differences between our faiths in that simple statement. The Prodigal is someone who defied conventions, thought he knew better than everyone else, wanted independence, he didn’t care about shaming his family, he wants a taste of the forbidden fruit. He makes big mistakes and is only right move was to know that he could go home.
Islam does not love this guy. He is trouble, causes chaos to the organized way of handling things. He provokes gossip and talk, he makes people ask questions about how they live, and defies convention. Islam despises the son who thinks he can make big mistakes and get mercy after. Islam has no interest in followers who opt out and make mistakes. Islam wants this boy thrown back in the pig sty to be an example to all who dare to question, who dare to defy norms, who think mercy is an option. Allah does not love the Prodigal.
Christ, however, says the Father was waiting on the son’s return. Picked up his robe and ran to him after seeing him coming. The Father was looking off his front porch for signs of His son. A Father missing His boy. He gathered him up in His arms and kissed him, put a ring on his finger, robed him in fine clothes and celebrated. This boy was lost, but now he is home. He is loved. He made huge mistakes, shamed his Father, his family, he wasted his inheritance but he came home. God the Father has nothing in the world to fear from freedom of thought, from defiance, from breaking of convention or even foolish behavior. The only thing the Father feared was that His beloved son was lost. The loss of a child. The child returns to the Father from the dead and all of heaven sings and dances! Prepare the biggest feast we ever had! He came home. The Father doesn’t care two cents about conventions, the moment he sat worried looking in the distance for that shameful son proved that, but when he picked up his robes to run he shoved convention down the drain. He showed the whole community by His act of love that He didn’t care what they thought of His pride, status or standing. He loves His son. The Father loves the Prodigal.
We in all of our choices of independence and free thinking are loved.
but when He picked up his robes to run, He shoved convention down the drain. He showed the whole community by His act of love that He didn’t care what they thought of His pride, status or standing. He loves His son. The Father loves the Prodigal. We in all of our choices of independence and free thinking are loved.
It would be easy right now to be like Jonah, and look at the mission to carry the Gospel to Muslims like Jonah did the Ninevites. He didn’t want to go for a reason, Jonah didn’t like them, and they weren’t like him. He didn’t want them to get a chance, to him they didn’t deserve a chance they were utterly horrible. Even when he finally got around to going, he still hadn’t learned his lesson. He waited on the top of the hill to watch their destruction. Right now, a lot of Christians are sitting on hills hoping for Muslims destruction. (Ironically, in the very same hills that ISIS now hides, Nineveh existed.) Maybe now is a good time to look into our hearts and see if we can love those who are different. To see if we can love those who don’t look to us like they deserve a chance. Maybe we should see that each and everyone of us had a trip to the pig sty at one point in time in our lives and had to remember to come home, and if we got a chance that they too deserve one. Our place isn’t on a hill hoping for destruction. Our place is in love with those still in the dark. Thank you for being with us, wading into the dark and loving.
A Muslim only in utter obedience has a chance.
No free thought
No defying conventions
No considering options
No shame to his family
No walking away
No trying anything different
Allah does not love the Prodigal.