It’s 2:30 in the morning. I’m looking at the drape of white gauze mosquito net illuminated by the security lights outside our building. The buzzing of mosquitos is a safe distance away.
As I’m laying in bed fighting jet-lag, I think of a childhood song “his banner over me is love”. This mosquito net is like a banner that I’m beneath. I think of the hedge God puts around us to protect us. This mosquito net is like his hedge.
This is what travel to a far part of the globe looks like for the first few nights. Sleeplessness during the night watches. Can’t stay away during the daytime. I’ve learned a lot about helping my body adjust, but jet-lag is a companion of travelers. God doesn’t seem to hedge jet-lag away from us.
I hear my roommate tossing and turning. He flew in from East Asia. He’s fighting jet-lag also. When I room alone, I can turn on the light and read. But I don’t want to disturb my roommate, so I spend this sleepless time looking at the white gauze and listening to the buzz in the room.
And I pray for Betsy.
Betsy was my seatmate for 7 hours flying from Amsterdam to Nairobi. Betsy loves Africa as I do. She lived in Kenya for a year and comes back frequently. She is married to a writer for National Geographic who is in Tanzania doing a story. She runs a wildlife conservation foundation. We talked of our experiences in different parts of Africa.
And we talked of spiritual things. Betsy grew up in a Christian home, but she’s explored most of the world’s major religions. She converted to buddhism a few years ago. She said she loves the beauty of all the religions. We talked of Christ’s claims which seemed to rule out other ways to God. We also talked of the exclusivity claims of Islam and Jewdaism. She was troubled by these but kept talking about how beautiful the religions are.
Betsy’s conservation group teaches monks in Mongolia to care about the earth. She is attending a conference in Kenya to help religious leaders care for the environment. She is very aware of the good that religious leaders can do.
We had a robust conversation, but I felt unable to help her think more critically. I especially wished I could have connected her with the God whose banner over me is love, who cares deeply about his creation, and who cared so much for Betsy that he sent his Son to pay for her sins.
I was not able to get that far with Betsy.
I was encouraged, though, that I was able to have a robust conversation without bruising the fruit of Betsy’s heart. She commented that she hadn’t had such a good conversation about spiritual things in a while. I am glad that I could be the evangelical Christian who could love things about Africa with Betsy and could talk about God without bruising her.
So I pray for Betsy during these night hours.