Before I go into talking about this photo and the chosen verse I would like to set the record straight that I am in no way claiming that I am one of those “few” faithful men! Even though it has been my heart’s desire since my early teens.
About two weeks ago I looked in the mirror and I remembered my dad because I had not shaved in few days—that’s how he looked liked whenever he came from the army back home so my earliest memories of him from my early childhood is of him not shaved. So I decided to take a photo, and later on I decided to include one of my favourite verses, Proverbs 20:6.
When I was born my dad had already joined the army so I really didn’t see him much. He actually joined the army 1 year after he got married at the age of 25 and left the army in his late 30s! Back home men are forced to join the army; they fought and died for a cause they didn’t believe in, against a neighbouring country they did not consider an enemy, in support of a president they did not elect. My dad had a vacation of around 7 days every 45 days, so when he came home he didn’t want to shave because in the army they are forced to wake up at 5 AM and shave every morning, so he just wanted a break from it!
Needless to say I didn’t know who my dad was! I actually didn’t know what a dad is! I remember thinking to myself when I a child of around 3-5 years old, “Who is this man and why does he come visit us every once in a while!” I even remember asking my older sister who this man was, and she answered that he was our dad! But that didn’t help me because I didn’t know what he was there for! I mean, my mom I understood, and I even understood that my grandparents who lived with us and I loved a lot were my dad’s parents, but who is he! Even though he loved me, told me stories, bought me gifts and hugged me, but that didn’t help—seeing him few days on an average of a month and a half was simply not enough (two days are usually lost for transportation to the battlefield.) I sometimes thought he was the man who came to fix the house! Because whenever he came he would start changing light bulbs, cut trees, do carpentry work and fix this and fix that! So for the 1st 6 years of my life I had no idea what a dad was for!
A year after that war stopped our president started another war in 1990 which again my dad was enlisted to fight in. To make a long story short, my 1st real recollections of him was around the age of 12. It was actually right after the Gulf War and he had just come home and we hadn’t seen him in months, and I was sitting on the stairs that lead to the roof building some kind of toy or device and I was whistling some classical music when this man (my dad) in military uniform and gear came in. He was very weary and tired, and he was carrying more stuff and bags on his back than I had ever seen him carry and his face was expressionless. That was pretty much initially I took a Great look at my dad’s face. As kids, especially teenagers, we rarely spend time getting to know our parents, and this sometimes continues into our adulthoods—we simply never take the time to get to know them. Not even to know what they really look like: what eye colour do they have, how pretty or handsome they are, how beautiful they look when they smile, or how sad they look even when they try to hide it.
My dad had grown up as a devote “Christian” in his denomination, and you can see that in the way he acted as a grown man. Mind you he was not your Biblical example of how to follow Jesus, and so on, but he held some values until today I haven’t seen many hold. One of those values is being honest, and trustful. I have not seen a man trusted as much as my father. Strangers would trust property with him, because they knew that if they came after many years to claim he would still have it ready for them sound and safe. This impressed me much especially as a young man growing up looking for role models.
Actually Christians are very much trusted back home because my home country is divided by race, religion, and you name it—and everybody was against everybody! Even our president’s staff, like his cooks, house takers, cars mechanics, even engineers were mainly Christians because he knew they wouldn’t try to assassinate him. I am not even talking about people who accepted Jesus in their lives or were obeying Him…I am talking about people who have the brand-new Testament as their Holy Book and believed in it! That can tell you how powerful God’s Word is that even applying a principle or two like love your enemies and submit to authority figures can make such a powerful testimony in our world.
My dad’s 2nd attributes that I admired is that he was loved by everyone! People for some reason just had a great affection and respect toward him. He somehow could find favour in people’s eyes so easily! My dad is not a powerful man in any way, he doesn’t even have siblings! Yet, because he wronged no one men respected him greatly. A book store owner my dad used to visit frequently used to leave my dad to the last then would process his purchase! He did few times that my dad finally asked him how come he always left him to the end before he sold him what he wanted to buy! The store owner answered, “Man, I knew you were going to ask me this one day, so let me explain. Every time you come into the store is like heaven’s door open with buyers! People start coming in as if they were following you! That’s why I keep you to the end so I make more sales!” People back home are very superstition like most in the Middle East, but I do believe that my dad has somehow found a favour in God’s eyes.
Another thing I learned from my dad that I am thankful to him to this day is being neat. I don’t know why my dad was so neat, I doubt it was the army who taught him to be neat, because my grandfather is very neat too but he never went to the army! I guess it is just in the family, which is something I like very much. It has dangers though, because very neat people can very easily fall into the trap of perfectionism, but I will talk about this in another project.
(I so love being organized and having a place for everything, and everything in its place. Actually my heavenly Father is perfectly organised, and even when He works in our lives He always does so in a wise and perfect order. And what is even more amazing is that when He works in the lives of two people, for example a man and a woman who He predestined to be husband and wife one day, He does so in such a fashion that at the right time everything falls into place! It is one of the most awesome things to witness: the gradual, steady, and effective work of God in people’s lives.)
Another thing I would to mention about my dad is that he is a quiet man, not that he didn’t talk or anything, but his demeanour is quiet. He joked and told stories but he was not easily shaken—I guess war toughen you up! And the most impressive thing about my dad is that in all the years I’ve known him he had not once said a bad word about another person! Can you believe it—not even once! I mean, I’ve seen him being wronged, accused wrongly, insulted, put down, and so but he never complained or said something negative about any person. This my sister admires a lot about our dad too.
I miss him and love him a lot; I haven’t seen him since 1998. I believe that God is at work in his life starting with his heart. I accepted Jesus before I come to Canada, and I believe God has a bigger plan for my dad than just bring him to Canada and let him drift through life aimlessly. I believe God is trying to get my dad’s attention, and bring him to Himself. All I can do is pray for him that God’s work be fulfilled in him and his life whether he is here or not. And I hope he would join us in Canada in God’s timing, and even if it is not God’s will for him to join us here, but I so desire him to join us in heaven for eternity.
right now if you are still interesting in reading I would like to talk about the verse, and I must warn you that it won’t be a short writing either! It is hard to put a Mighty God’s work in few words; otherwise the Bible wouldn’t be so big 🙂
Since my early teens I had held few values and principles that I walked by. I am not talking about Biblical principles or anything like that because that was before I became a Christian at the age of 16. After I became a Christian my values and principles were pretty much erased and replaced by God’s—thank God!
One of those early values I held was that lust is wrong. And I am not only talking about looking at a woman’s body and wanting her in a physical/sexual way…I am also talking about the habit of looking at every woman who a man comes across even if only looking at her face or checking if she has a marriage ring on or not! I think I was around the age of 14 sitting on a bus back home and I looked to my left and there was this lady who was at least twice my age with an attractive face walking toward the bus and I thought how beautiful she was. Suddenly then somehow I came to the conclusion that was wrong. right now I know that a lot of people will think this is crazy, stupid, or not Biblically supported. But there is a power in paying attention to people’s appearances, even seemingly innocent looks. A power of captivity to that other person, do you know what I am talking about? Not to mention developing a habit that very easily can lead to sin.
As a young man I was pretty known and loved in my neighbourhood and because of those standards I held for myself I remember a couple of neighbourhood friends whose parents have told them not to go anywhere that I wouldn’t go to. That put pressure on me because I felt that I was responsible for friends whom some were older than me. However, those same standards alienating me from my friends once we reached puberty, because a lot of them were right now suddenly interested in knowing about girls anyway possible. This somehow left me from having a ton of friend in one year, around the age of 12 or 13, and having no friends to hang out with the next year, around 14 or 15. I simply could not find fun in what they considered to be fun.
After I accepted Jesus at the age of 16, I was surprised to find out that my standards were nothing compared to His standards—love your enemies…come on! He was my hero from day one! I was a very easy child to raise in the sense that I rarely got into trouble or disobeyed my parents, but I also felt very strong about what I believed in and walked in it. I was never interested in impressing a group of people, and certainly didn’t find following a crowd for the sake of being in the crown a wise thing—and usually it is not. I believe this somehow helped me follow Jesus, because I could finally trust someone for guidance so I could follow Him.
Don’t get me wrong following Jesus is the hardest thing I had to do, over and over and over again, and the biggest obstacle to doing so is always one’s self. Here I would like to share some little stories about obeying Jesus in my life.
When I was 16 years old and living in a neighbouring country to my home country waiting for our immigration papers to complete I found a job in a barber shop. So I went in the morning and someone was showing me what to do and so on, you know clean up, organise things, etc. Everything went find to me until evening came. Suddenly all those youth, and men came into the barber shop and started hanging out there, which was fine by me. The thing I hated though is how dirty they talked about women and how low they thought of them. And the thing that I didn’t like even more was that every time a lady would pass by the shop they would say a thoughtless comment, usually sexual in nature. I simply couldn’t stay in that atmosphere any longer so I told the stop owner that I was quitting and went home. I can’t explain the relief I felt as I left and reached home! I believe I couldn’t stay in that place any longer because I had just spend the prior year reading the Bible all day long for many hours—it was such a change in atmosphere to work there.
When I went home my mom asked why I came home and I told her that I had quit, she asked why but I didn’t give her an explanation because I know she doesn’t agree with my beliefs (until today). Later she asked me again and so I told her, and she was very disappointed with me. You see, in my home country a definition of a man is someone who does whatever it takes to win in life—personal standards don’t exist. However, my definition of a man is made of two words: Jesus Christ. Needless to say she told me that I need to be a man and act like a man, and men don’t care about these things. But I cared and until today I care. And if I’ll have children one day then I will raise them up to believe in those things—the things that please God’s heart.
Another decision I made after graduating from high school was not to go to university or college until I found out what Jesus wants me to do as a career because I was clueless as what I was supposed to be doing. Shortly afterwards God provided me with a job in a warehouse as a general labourer: cleaning, lifting, loading, backing boxes, cutting empty boxes, shovelling snow, operating a forklift, etc. My family and friends didn’t understand and until today they don’t understand why I did that for four years! I simply had to know what Jesus wanted me to do before I could make such a big step as to enrol in a higher education institute. God had a plan for me as a career and I wanted to know what His will was so I could obey it! It took four years; but God made His will known and I believe in His timing too. I won’t right much details about school because that will require a topic by itself.
Waiting upon the Lord for His guidance to continue my education was by far the least popular thing I have done among my family and friends–I did not have one person to support me in waiting–and not only that but every body opposed my waiting. That made waiting harder, but I had decided that I won’t take a major decision in my life without having His blessing. I don’t believe in doing my will and praying for His blessings; I believe in doing His will and know that He will bless my obedience. And if I have a chance to do it all over again, I would still wait upon Him for guidance. I must say that the only person supported my waiting upon God was pastor Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries through his sermons which are truly a blessing for me.
Another instance I was asked for a copy of Microsoft Office by a co-worker so I told her that I will think about it. I went home and prayed that God gives me the courage to tell her my answer. The next day she reminded me so I told her that I can’t give her my copy of Microsoft Office for her to copy or install on her computer because I believe that’s stealing, and being dishonest because I will be breaking the agreement of installing the software. This might sound like a trivial situation but obeying God in the little things are harder sometimes because everybody is doing them! And telling someone who you’ve known for four years and have became friends “no” to such a seemingly easy request, is even harder! Thank God in this case she understood; she actually agreed with me which is amazing because I haven’t met many people who think copying music, or software is a sin. Especially here in Canada where it is not even illegal—but again there are a lot of things that are legal that dishonour God.
This verse is one of my personal favourite in the Bible, and I so desire to live it out. But living a faithful life has been anything but understood by my loved ones. If you are reading this and decide to pray for me then please pray that I may know Jesus and love Him—that is to obey Him and be faithful to Him. I know it is not easy and I yet have to see the full work of the Holy Spirit in my life, but I am so thankful that God got my attention at such a young age so if it is His will that I live many years then I would get to know Him more and more while I am here on earth so that when I join Him in heaven I will feel at home 🙂
Here I would like to mention that my mom is a sweet woman who loves me so much that her love and care for me are 2nd only to Jesus’. She is funny, and everybody who meets her thinks she is adorable! The reason I am saying this is that when we write about someone who hurt us or said to us others automatically think that person is evil! That’s not true! It’s only in movies where a person is completely "evil" or "Great". In the real world the people who hurt us the most are usually the ones who are closer to us–the ones who offered us and loved us the most. My mom had grown in that culture and has been hurt by the way the culture thinks too–believe me nobody enjoys being criticized, or put down. It is just that the hurt goes so deep inside that it becomes part of who we are: how we think and act. That’s how I was before coming to Christ, and I certainly didn’t want people to think of me as evil because of that! So let’s us show others grace and patient as God has shown us.
Sadly, if she could write her story she probably would mention that she has been hurt by me more than I have been hurt by her–and that she would probably be true 🙁
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