THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD
On February 10, 1990 I sat at the airport. I thought about what had happened in my past, what was happening now, and what could happen. My plane to Jordan would leave soon and my life would never be the same. I would marry a man my father had chosen and I would never return to the U.S. unless my husband decided to move here.
I was born in Jordan. When I was eight, my father decided to come to the U.S. to work. He held very strongly to his Arab customs and wanted his children to follow those customs, so my father sent me to Jordan to go to school.
I lived with my extended family there, travelling between Jordan and the U.S. so I could see my family while going to school. As much as I loved seeing my family, I was happy in Jordan.
I prayed five times a day, fasted, and read the Qur’an. No matter what I did, I felt I needed to do more to show God how obedient I was to Him. The more time I spent in Islam, the further I drifted from God. The Muslims I knew only worshipped God to obtain heaven. Worshipping God became an important issue to me.
When I was 23, my father decided I should get married. In the Arab culture, the marriage process required a man asking for a woman’s hand from her family. Several Muslims came to ask for my hand, but I refused. I didn’t want to marry someone I didn’t know. My father didn’t understand why I would refuse all of these men when he knew that love comes after marriage and not before.
When my dad realized that reasoning with me wouldn’t work, he tried force. He decided that I should go back to Jordan and stay there until I was married. My younger sister was sixteen, so my dad decided she should come with me.
A daughter bringing disgrace to her family is the worst shame a family can go through. While sitting in the airport, I knew I faced either disgrace or misery. I was angry at my father and at God. I was angry at my father for what he was doing and angry at God for allowing it. I made a decision that day to stop praying to God and to stop worshiping Him the way I did in the past.
As I sat in the airport, I decided that I could not marry. My younger sister and I left and went to the nearest hotel. The plane landed sixteen hours later as my father waited in the airport to greet us. When he realized we weren’t on the plane, he called my brother and told him. He began to search desperately for us.
My family might claim that I had kidnapped my sister. We agreed that she would tell them I had dragged her off the plane and forced her to come with me so they wouldn’t harm her. I promised her that if they tried to force her to do anything she didn’t want to do, I would come back and get her. We said good-bye to each other thinking that we would never see each other again.
Four years passed. During that time I had joined the National Guard, met new friends and started a new life. But I still missed my family. I slowly began to contact them. and finally made peace with them. It amazed me to see how accepting my family was. I began to see God’s grace in my life. “He didn’t neglect me after all,” I thought, “I don’t know what I would have done without His love and grace. He protected me and gave me the courage, wisdom and strength to survive on my own.” I was ashamed for being angry at Him. I needed to make peace with Him by going back to Islam.
I began talking to God again. I didn’t know why He did what He did, but I had to accept it because I knew He did things for a reason. One evening, I met a woman walking her dog in front of my apartment. She and I became friends instantly and she invited me to go to her church.
I really enjoyed the pastor’s sermons. Sometimes the pastor would say that Jesus is God in the flesh and sometimes he would say that Jesus is the Son of God. I knew that the pastor was confused because how can Jesus be God and be God’s Son? That didn’t make any sense to me.
Who is Jesus?
I continued to go to church. One day the pastor said that Muslims didn’t know Jesus Christ. I thought, “Of course Muslims know Jesus; the pastor is sadly mistaken and I need to set the record straight.” After the service, I went to the pastor and told him that I was a Muslim and I DID know Jesus Christ. He apologized for making a blanket statement, and said, “I know that Muslims believe he is a prophet.” That comment forced me to search for the truth even harder.
I was convinced that the prophet Mohammed was the last messenger and that the Qur’an was the last book from God. The Qur’an clearly states that Jesus was a prophet born of a virgin. He did many miracles including bringing the dead to life and healing the sick. In the Qur’an, Jesus never told anyone to worship him but to worship the One true God.
As I continued to go to Church and listen to the pastor’s sermons, I began to wonder why Christianity and Islam were so different. As I listened and read books, I became confused and didn’t know what to believe anymore. How could I betray my family or maybe even God if I believed in Jesus Christ? I continued to search for answers.
I needed answers and I didn’t know who would help me. The pastor recommended a seminary professor. As I talked with the professor, things started to make sense. I began to compare prophesies in the Old Testament with how they were fulfilled in the New Testament. Doing this led me to believe in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The only thing left for me to wrestle with was Jesus’ deity as part of a Triune God. I thought, “I can not, under any circumstances, believe that Jesus is God; that would be pure blasphemy!” I had to either end my search or challenge Jesus’ deity because I knew I couldn’t embrace Christianity unless I believed in Jesus’ deity.
One Sunday, I went to church and the pastor was talking about prayer. He said, “When I pray for something, I say: God, if this is Your will, then open the door wide open or slam it shut.” As soon as I got home I prayed, “God, if you want me to follow Christianity, then open the doors wide open or slam them shut.” For a whole week nothing happened.
One Sunday, I woke up depressed about my search. I decided not to go to church. An Iranian Christian pastor called me and said he would like a Al-Quran. I took it to him that evening. When I arrived, he asked me about my searching. I told him that I believed in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, but I didn’t believe in his deity. I also told the pastor that I’d studied the life of Jesus, and no one in history compared to him. He said, “Well, if you think he is that wonderful and that he died on the cross for your sins, will you confess that before God?”
I agreed so we prayed together. Once finished, the pastor asked me to continue to pray, read the Bible, and tell everyone what I just did. I had no idea what he was talking about. The pastor and I said good-bye and I headed for my car. I got in my car and it all hit me. I sat in total shock and said, “You (God) really wanted me to do this all along didn’t You?” I began to cry as I realized what had happened. I fought with Jesus and I lost! I wanted him to reveal himself to me on my terms, but he revealed himself to me on His terms. It was clear to me that Jesus wanted me to walk with him instead of challenge Him.
I am grateful that the Lord has been my Shepherd throughout my life. He has been there for me when I needed Him and even when I thought I didn’t need Him. He has taken me down roads I never dreamed I’d take. Above all, I’m amazed that He loved me so much, He sent Jesus to die on the cross for me! How humbling and precious that is to me!
This article is originally published athttp://www.isaandislam.com/testimonies/the-lord-is-my-shepherd.html