Today you have the pleasure of meeting Julia. I met this beautiful girl while attending Wheaton College and today she is serving the least of these on the other side of the world. Her heart is so huge, and she daily serves as a huge inspiration to Kevin and me. She is someone we have been in prayer for for a few years, and I can’t wait for you to read about God’s provision for her.
I don’t care how small of a thing you’re worried about, you guys. God cares.
Read this and see what I’m talking about.
“Some stories are just too good, too important not to tell.
This is one of them.
Tuesday night I was at the peak of emotional misery. Nothing seemed to be going right in any area of my life. My muscles felt tired and my body ached from emotional erosion. I didn’t want to face the world. Unfortunately, the world was coming to me, in the form of a dinner party for a visitor staying at our house. Originally excited to meet our guests, the idea of new faces seemed too much to handle. Thankfully, a last-minute invitation to dinner offered me refuge in the only place in Amman I know as “home,” a young family who has opened their arms to me, mentored me, loved on me. I knew I could go there and not need to perform.
With a weight five times my own, I left my house, dragged myself up the stairs, and handled society until safely in the confines of a cab. I stared outside the window at the city passing by, blinking back tears and mentally numb from thinking. Were we there yet?
Almost to the destination, we stopped at a major intersection. Peddlers, young and old, Gypsy and Arab, often congregate here. Selling newspapers, life-size teddy bear stickers and plants of all shapes and sizes, they walk between the cars, peddling the day’s deal. That day, it was white flowers. 4 lanes of traffic over, I watched two young brothers cajoling a young man to buy a bouquet for his wife.
Suddenly, the idea of flowers felt so great to me. My heart longed for them. They were beautiful: White, crisp and joyful. They seemed like the perfect salve for my weary spirit and heavy heart. I yearned for one.
But, not only were the boys far away, I also didn’t think I could spare the money to buy them myself. With my heart heavy with disappointment, I decided I’d just tell God. “God, I’d really like some flowers. I know it seems silly, but I just wish I could have one. My heart hurts and they seem so nice.“
[I wish I could say that at this point I said something to God about being able to see the other “flowers” in my life that He blesses me with. I’m not sure if that happened or not. I’d sound like a better person if it did… but it probably didn’t.]
The light changed and our cab moved forward, leaving the boys and their flowers far behind in the exhaust.
Fast-forward two days. I was in a cab again, heading towards the same intersection. A few minutes earlier, while waiting for that cab, an 8-year-old boy had run up and grabbed me, hissing lewd obscenities no 8-year-old should know. I was furious, insulted, assaulted. To cope, I began vigorously typing a blog post on my cell phone; consumed in the text, I lost all awareness to my surroundings. I didn’t even realize the cab had stopped at an intersection until, suddenly, a white flower appeared in front of my face.
I froze. It was the very flower I had asked God for.
Looking up, I saw we were at the same intersection from Tuesday night. A different boy is smiling at me from the passenger side window, bouquets of flowers clutched to his chest.
“Oh, no thanks, I don’t want to buy flowers” I tell him.
“No, it’s for you” the boy pauses, and then gives me a toothy grin, “it’s a gift.”
I’m sure my eyes doubled in disbelief as he passed the flower through the window. With a smile, the boy turns and walks away. Our cab pulls forward.
I suddenly have no more interest in my phone. I can only stare at the flower in disbelief. I had asked God for a flower, and he gave me the very one I wanted. He didn’t have to. I’m not worthy of it, heck I almost beat up an 8-year-old. And at that moment all I felt was pure, complete, love. God loved me enough to give me flowers. Not because I did anything special or deserved them, but because He loved me.
I stared at that flower for another 5 minutes, flabbergasted, dumbfounded, in complete awe of our delightful God who gives us even the smallest, most minute desires of our hearts. A God of the details. A God of love.
I debated for 30 seconds before deciding I had to tell my taxi driver about the best present I’d ever received. “Can I tell you something?” I asked. I then proceeded to tell him about seeing the boys two days before, wanting the flowers but not having any money, and asking God to give me a flower. And then today, just then, I got the very same flower.
Through the rearview mirror I watched the face of my driver, trying to figure out if he understood my Arabic. Without a word, the worn face of the driver broke into a smile. For a moment, I just watched him smile. It seemed internal, like the smile inside of me, and I knew he understood. Still silent, the driver lifted his hand to his face and quietly wiped a tear from the corner of his eye. Looking up at me, his smile grew.
Shaking his head in disbelief he praised, “Subhan’Allah” he said. “Subhan’Allah”
Yes. Praise God.”
Julia is a 2014 grad of Johns Hopkins’ SAIS with a Master’s in International Economics and Development. Before SAIS, Julia spent three years in Jordan working with female entrepreneurs in Gaza Refugee Camp to establish community programs and distribute aid to the camp’s most marginalized. She will spend the next year working on women’s livelihood projects in rural India as a Clinton Fellow with the American India Foundation and has been placed in Cairo, Egypt in 2016 as a fellow with a humanitarian and emergency relief agency.