#14 Life in Afghanistan :: Stepping In

Today’s post is from the archives. I’ve not been feeling well today, so I decided to use something that was already written.


I step off the plane, headphones firmly in my ears, my MP3 player blasting worship songs into my ears. I walk down those steps, the slippery metal ones, with puddles of melted snow and slush that gleam in the sunlight. My foot touches hard, dusty, soil and it hits me. My breath gets caught in my throat and my heart stops for a second. I stand still for a moment and drink in all those racing emotions surging through my body.

I feel the bitter cold against my skin, I breathe in the dusty breeze, I smell the burning fires attempting to heat buildings and homes, I let the soot floating in the air fill my nose, I see the guns, and the helicopters, and war-planes. I hear voices speaking harshly in a language other than my mother-tongue, but a language I am oh, so, familiar with. I let it all soak in for a moment. I have come back. I have returned to my heart-land and my aching heart feels ok once more.

The music cuts through my dazed thoughts and feelings. I’m filled with awe and wonder at this God, this Healer, this Saviour, this Redeemer, this Author, who would allow me to return here, allow me the privilege of walking on this ground, of seeing these faces, of hearing this mix of languages, of sharing life with this nation. Tears spring to my eyes, I cannot help it for I am so overwhelmed by the moment. Overwhelmed that He has authored this moment into my story.

I take hold of the black handle of my case and start to walk toward the terminal building, case dragging behind me, wheels of no real benefit on this dusty, unpaved, pot-hole-ridden ground. I let the music fill my being.

“Spirit break out,
Break our walls down.
Spirit break out,
Heaven come down.”

I start a conversation with my maker, with THEIR maker. “Is it possible? Will you break out? Can you break out here?”

I look around the hall filled of people queuing to pass through passport control. I see the heavily covered women, I see the men in turbans, tunics trailing to the ground. I look at the faces of the women and I see their lifeless eyes, their hopelessness, their hunched backs speaking of oppression. They exude brokenness and I can almost feel their pain. I sneak a quick glance at the men. Their faces tell the same story, of loss, of brokenness, of resignation.

My heart breaks afresh. I know I shouldn’t show emotion, but I let the tears that escaped freely roll down my cheeks. I continue the silent conversation going on inside me. “Please, please would you break out? You are needed in this place desperately, you are the only answer here. Come, break out, please.” The lyrics fill my ears once more.

“King Jesus, you’re the name we’re lifting high;
Your glory, shaking up the earth and skies;
Revival, we want to see your kingdom here.”

The melody and words are on the tip of my tongue, their expression filling my mouth. I want to sing it out, shout it out, scream it out.  Declare that He is the name that is being lifted high; that His kingdom will come, and that we long to see it. I know I must keep silent, I must purse my lips and keep any sound from escaping. I stay silent and instead, there, in the middle of that hall, surrounded by those people, I allow my mind to scream it out to my heart, and my heart to echo it back to my mind. I allow the Spirit inside me to listen and to carry those cries to the throne room.

Next in line, I pull the headphones out of my ears and hang them around my neck. I take a deep breath in preparation for what is on the other side of the border control. I prepare my self to face whatever crazies may lay ahead.

It’s my turn. I step forward. I leave the music playing as a sort of silent protest, as a way of letting truth ring out through the corridors that I walk, in hope that maybe by having this worship playing The Spirit will break out.

He looks down at my passport and back up at my face. I hear the music so faintly only one who knew it was there and was listening hard would hear it. I hear the words echoing out.

“The heavens will roar
Your people will sing
For nothing compares to your glory”

My heart resounds with a great “Amen!”

I enter the country.



This is part of the 31 Day series



11 Comments on “#14 Life in Afghanistan :: Stepping In”

  1. […] Day Fourteen :: Stepping In (the moments I arrived back in Afghanistan) […]

  2. gerritsmom says:

    Hope you feel better soon! I just love what you have written!!!!!

  3. Laurie Avery says:

    I remember that feeling after my first evacuation, “Lord, I am so awed and blessed that You have allowed me to come back to this place… my home”

    • EJ Reading says:

      :) I wrote that after the first time I went back after evacuation. I really never ever ever thought I would be able to go back. Such an amazing moment for me.

        • EJ Reading says:

          Health. Sigh. Thought it was a nasty parasite, turned out to be much worse! You can read part of the story here and here

          • lars69 says:

            I think I was praying for you… I faced that again in December 2011, and was evacuated again. Once again my heart was broken, but God stepped in. He very slowly began to change my heart and show me that this time, I wasn’t meant to go back. It was so painful, to this day, I can’t think of it without weeping. I felt like I was jumping of a cliff, having no idea when I’d hit bottom. But He very graciously gave me a cushion in the form of an incredibly loving man, who holds me as I weep, longing for the life I had, but cherishing every moment of the present with him. What a life we chose! (I did return for a month, I was meant to return for 3 to really have a chance to close things well, but my brother committed suicide, so that choice was removed.) My husband and I would really like to visit, so he can get a glimpse of my life there. We’ll see what God has in store…

            • EJ Reading says:

              You switched profiles – it confused me a little!
              So cool that someone I never met was praying for me, and then I meet them through my blog years later! I’m still processing still how heart breaking and traumatic all of this has been. I’ve been back 4 or 5 times now for short visits 1-3 months, and at the end of the year I’m due to be FINALLY moving back – inshallah.
              So thankful that God has given you such a loving man to walk this with you, praying that He makes it clear when it’s right for you to come and visit.

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