Eight months ago my small family and I boarded a plane to Ethiopia, taking with us everything we owned. We felt called by God, and together believed that He had an abundant life prepared for us. We were ready for an adventure! Though I knew that life wouldn’t always be easy, I did not expect things to unfold as they have. I didn’t expect that that greatest battles would take place in me, and that enormous challenges in my own soul would emerge.
So far on this journey I am learning that a lot has to die inside me before I can enter into a life that is really full of God’s abundance.
When my children were feverish for two weeks and nobody could diagnose what was wrong, I was scared. When I suffered from a bladder infection during pregnancy, what was overlooked by medical staff, I was scared. When the country experienced unrest, resulting in no telephone or internet connection, I was scared. The strong Sarah died. I realised that I can trust only one, and that’s my God.
On the quiet, lonely nights, without electricity or the internet, I experienced a restlessness within myself. I’d never seen it before, but my heart wanted recognition for my achievements. Here in Africa there was nobody inviting me to preach. Didn’t they know I am young, dynamic, well-known leader in Germany, with thousands of Instagram followers? No. Instead, with every passing week, every passing month, in this new, often more tedious than adventurous life, the heroine within me was dying. I am a nobody here.
But with each death, a new life grew in me. Here, where I am a nobody to everyone, Jesus became my all. He needs to be enough for me! I probably said that back in Germany, but I had never been challenged at this level to live that truth. I had given my life to Jesus, yet I was successful enough to get affirmation from my environment and my accomplishments that I didn’t really know how ‘only Jesus’ felt. Here, my safety net has been taken away. And now that all these sources of recognition are gradually dying in me, a Sarah who is more secure awakens. Just me, as I am.
I am discovering what real life is. And this life is available to the poor and the rich, the educated and the ignorant, the weak and the powerful. And maybe it is true that the kingdom of heaven does belong to the poor because they were never tempted to get their recognition from elsewhere. Maybe it will become easier for us to discover the life Jesus has prepared for us when we first become a nobody. Maybe we have to die first to really live!
Maybe it will become easier for us to discover the life Jesus has prepared for us when we first become a nobody. Maybe we have to die first to really live!
Today, perhaps more has died in me than I expected eight months ago. But there has also been more room for real life - a life that is better, more fulfilling and deeper than I’ve ever known before.
Mail to Sarah Keshtkaran