Sermon by Btissam El Hassar
This morning I am going to share with you my journey of how I got here from having relatively no belief to having a growing one, and how this growing faith helped me to be more content, satisfied, and thankful.
I grew up in a family (father, mother and sister) that is not religious at all. I was in a Mosque once when I was 6 years old, and I never went back. Thus, my understanding of the language of religion is poor.
The first time I came to Seekers I was attracted to the community, though I did not understand the spiritual life that reigns here. I did not understand exactly why people were doing what they did. Why did they admit their mistakes aloud? I was very eager to learn about the spiritual life in Seekers.
For example, if somebody told you "I love you" in Arabic or Greek would feel it as if it was said in English? No
When I attended the women’s retreat with Marjory that Faith at Work sponsored, it helped me to open up some more. I felt in another world, in a world that I wished was permanent. We were surrounded by love, understanding, respect and security. We shared our stories and we learned from them.
After this event, I started to pay attention to what we call “Coincidences” in getting what I need, rather than what I want. Many times when we focus on what we want, and when we do not get it, we do not feel faith and we feel left alone. However, what we want is not always what we need. For example, on Friday a woman from the World Bank came by “accident” to the Bokamoso performance in Seekers. She is raising money for the same kind of project they are doing in Africa, and looking for other organizations that fit their criteria to receive some funds. This is was more than a coincidence; it was just what they needed.
Being open to learn and understand, I became more comfortable with Seekers, not only as a community, but also as a church and I became more comfortable with the spiritual life there.
This process did not go without any challenges. It was not smooth. Like with most learning, I had to go through bumps. I had to have questions that are hard to answer. Do I need to be a Christian? Or a Muslim? Or something else to have faith? After struggling with myself, my answer was that I need to accept the situation the way it is; I do not have to have any title. What connects us with this Entity is not the label (Muslim, Christian, Jewish etc.). How we behave, how we think and the kind of person we are connects us. Our hearts and our minds link us. Getting to this conclusion made me comfortable with my struggles.
What I faced made me understand that when you do the right thing for the right reason, things are the best they can be. The results of my new way of looking at things are very significant to me. I became more content and satisfied with what I have. Wanting more is fine, it is life, but enjoying what you have is important too. It is less difficult to deal with difficulties because I know they have meaning. I read in a book Jackie McMakin gave me called Steps toward Inner Peace: Problems are Opportunities in Disguise. This understanding was very helpful to me to be more positive, persistent, and do the right things more often. I am not always successful, but I focus on making progress.
I am going to close with a story that I think many of you know:
One night a woman had a dream. She dreamed she was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the colorful sky flashed scenes from her life. For each scene, she noticed two sets of footprints, one belonging to her, and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of her life flashed before her, she looked back at the footprints and noticed that many times along the path of her life there was only one set of footprints. She also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in her life.
This really bothered her and she questioned the Lord about it. “Lord, you said that once I decided to believe in you, you’d walk with me all the way. However, I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would abandon me.”
The Lord said unto her, “My precious, precious child, I love you and would never leave you. During your times of trial and tribulation, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”