"'You are Christian, yes?' she asked... Her question was more of a declaration. She was asking for a decision. What did I intend to stand up for in my life?
I left everything behind including my commitment to God. I boarded a plane from my home in Texas to Moscow, Russia intending to disappear, to immerse myself in my studies, and become invisible. God wouldn’t see me. Surely I’d be hidden from His sight if I blended anonymously into the crowd. Or would I?
I dedicated my life and heart to Jesus in my early teens. The two years following my baptism I absorbed everything I could learn about God. I was growing and sharing my faith with anyone who would listen. Until the day I fell flat on my face into the trap of vanity and turned away from the God who loves me.
I began to seek attention and approval and self worth from the people around me. Instead of God's words of affirmation, joy, and abundance in Him, I sought the false promises of popularity and pride. The liar said if I wanted to be popular I would only associate with the "right" people, so I changed my friends and hurt those who had been closest to me. The liar promised that the girls would like me if I attended their parties, wore the right clothes, and gossiped about everybody who was not there. I listened when I was told the boys would notice me if I drank alcohol underage and engaged in premarital sex. The voice I listened to assured me these would bring me happiness and satisfaction in this life.
When I left home for college I still wanted what the lies promised. Instead, I noticed young people standing up for their faith in Jesus. They advertised their associations on t-shirts and ball caps claiming Sisters for Christ, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Navigators, or Campus Crusaders for Christ. Everywhere, it seemed, I ran into or sat next to someone brave enough to say no to the lies and declare them straight up as the false promises they were. I felt lost, torn between my sinful desire to be approved by my peers and my inward yearning to run to the unconditionally accepting arms of my Savior.
In my confusion I felt desperate to hide and become nameless far away from home or anything familiar. One bad decision after another had left a wake of hurt and disappointment threatening to engulf me. My teacher asked me if I wanted to study abroad in Moscow for the summer. I signed up to lose myself.
After a few weeks of study and settling in to my new home abroad my class went on a walking tour of the city. Along the way I noticed a young lady sitting on the top of a short flight of stairs. She stood out to me with short, cropped, strikingly white blonde hair. She looked straight at me. Her eyes were a deep blue. I didn’t want to be noticed; I dropped my gaze to the ground. When our tour guide ushered us forward I chanced another look at her. She watched me. I shivered though I wasn’t cold and kept walking.
“You are American?” A female voice asked in a thick foreign accent close to my shoulder.
My heart leapt sideways. The blonde lady had fallen into step beside me. I hadn’t seen her leave the stairs. Wouldn’t I have heard someone catching up to me on the sidewalk? I nodded quickly.
“I am from Sweden. You are Christian, yes?” she asked.
I stopped abruptly to gape at her causing a domino effect of my tour group stumbling into my back. I didn’t know how to react at her intrusion into my private inner struggle as we stared at each other. Her eyes were curious, calm and without judgment. Anger flared inside of me at her insinuation. Almost as quickly the anger subsided into guilt, which settled into resignation and finally an exhausted sense of gratitude. I was tired of running. Her question was more of a declaration. She was asking for a decision. What did I intend to stand up for in my life? I knew without a doubt that Jesus Himself was calling me back to Him through this stranger in a foreign land.
The lady smiled and handed me a small piece of paper. “This is my name and phone number,” she said. “Please go to church with me sometime. It’s nice to meet you.”
I took the piece of paper. She walked away before I ever said a word.
Over the next two months I attended her Christian church and fell in love with Jesus all over again. He had sought His lamb that was lost. Did I really believe my Savior wouldn’t see me? He knew exactly where I was, lost and alone. His love waited patiently for me to return. In a faraway land, amongst strangers and fellow believers I finally learned to rest in the approval and acceptance of God-- God alone.
Author: Carrie Kempisty