Last week I was away visiting my sister in Denver. I brought my 7 month old, while my husband stayed back with our other ten children - evidence of his saintliness.
At the airport, people commented on how busy I must be with a baby in tow.
I had a good chuckle.
On the flight home, I was seated first and waited eagerly to see who would be the brave soul who would willingly choose to sit beside the lady with the baby. It was a young international student from Kenya who smiled brilliantly. He introduced himself and asked about the baby. I asked him if he had siblings back home. He said there were nine of them and waited for my mouth to drop. I told him that I was holding baby number eleven and watched his mouth drop instead.
In the course of our conversation, the young man revealed he was a devout Muslim and that he was upset by the misconception of his religion. He said that he was tired of a small percentage of radicals attempting to define the religion as a whole. I told him I thought that was unfair and that I understood. "How can you?" he asked, "If I had worn traditional Muslim attire today, many people on this plane would look at me in fear, making the worst assumptions." I told him that I had many friends who were priests and that following the abuse scandals, some were yelled at by complete strangers who blamed them for the terrible actions of the small percentage of offenders. People were afraid to let their children anywhere near them and many wrote off the Catholic Church as a whole. "Most priests are good men who have laid down their lives in service to God, but when a few commit odious acts, sadly all those affiliated with that particular religion bear the weight of condemnation in the eyes of the public."
He nodded solemnly. He asked about the Christian faith. He appreciated our common history, Abraham, our mutual Father of Faith, and many stories in scripture, but found it hard to understand The Trinity. I assured him that it was hard for anyone to understand The Trinity - that its reality was shrouded in mystery. He looked confused, "Then how can you believe it? I love learning about other faiths, but this concept of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit leaves me baffled."
I took a moment to ask the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts and words.
There are many components of the faith that at first appear baffling. If you want to understand the Christian faith, I think the journey often starts differently than with some other faiths. The Christian faith is not necessarily learning about something, but more so, meeting someone and ultimately finding yourself in a deeply intimate relationship that seems to defy human logic. I'm a Christian because I love Christ. With every fabric of my being, I long to unite myself to Him. I talk to Him continuously throughout the day, and though it may seem impossible, I can feel His presence, I know He hears me and He often answers in ways that leave me in no doubt of His immense love for me. Studying Holy Scripture only fuels my love for Him, and my gratitude in recognizing how He has sought the hearts of mankind since the earliest times. The teachings of my faith are given as a means of helping me live life to the fullest without allowing the great burden of sin to permanently steal the spark from my eyes and weigh down my heart. The Christian faith has brought me to a place where I can see the inherent dignity in each person. I see their value. I see how they are loved unconditionally by Christ and I am compelled to love them too. If you are really looking to investigate the Christian faith, it begins with an honest, open prayer: "Christ, if You are real and if You are really seeking me, please reveal the truth to my heart. Help me come to know You. Help me to experience Your love for me."
He thought for a moment. "This is a very different approach. I feel that I have learned a great deal through my faith. I have sacrificed much for the sake of Allah and I have sought truth. I will continue to seek truth." I saw so much goodness and beauty in him. "I know you'll find it." I said.
He smiled and shook his head, "I have never had a conversation about religion like this one before." I agreed that it was pretty unique.
I always feel somewhat inadequate when it comes to speaking about the faith, but Christ was able to inspire hope and wonder in the hearts of the wise men looking to the skies. He was able to win their hearts even as a tiny babe, so I trust that if He wills it, He can call someone at ten thousand feet within the skies in the least coveted seat beside the lady with the baby.
Wishing you many blessings as you approach the crèche this Christmas - as you find the source of all goodness, beauty and truth.