When I think about God’s faithfulness in what I can see, I am astounded at the thought of all I can’t see that is His work going on around me. Psa. 44:22 From the University, our marriage and call to missions, and Boot Camp Training…all were in preparation for the job He was readying us to do in the jungles! An expectation is me, presuming on God with my engaged will (that I have not yet yielded to Him!). That sense of entitlement can become a “ditch of despair” and reveals discontentment and a personal right that is being claimed. It often exposes itself in anger.
Of course, all of this learning to give my expectations to God; to catch His vision and to harmonize with His plan was pre-field training for our time in the jungles of Panama. And I had much to learn! On the practical side, we learned to plant and harvest, raise and slaughter animals, can what we raised and rustically prepare food, etc. On the spiritual side, “seasoned” missionaries wisely taught us from the Word early each morning until noon.
Fall came and went. After the long, hard freezing winter, spring came and summer brought six weeks of Survival Training in the thick woods of northern Wisconsin, where it rained three out of five days for the whole six weeks! The mosquitoes and spiders were larger and more aggressive than anything we ever encountered in Panama!
Part of the survival training was to become proficient in a canoe over some of the most dangerous rapids we had ever seen! It had rained for twelve days and was still raining when we pushed our canoe into the hurtling current. Macon and Katy Hare were just ahead of us. Macon was a seasoned MK (missionary kid) and it seemed like a good idea that the city-slickers (us) would learn from the master. As we were rapidly swept down the fast moving river, our canoe got too close to the shoreline and I screamed, “We’re going to swamp!!!” Ralph instantly yelled back, “DUCK!”. We looked up from the bottom of the canoe, only just gliding under a fallen tree! Not seconds after that we see Macon successfully make it through the approaching gap between two mammoth rocks and drop down ahead of us. As aggressively as we tried to steer clear of those rocks…they got us and we totally swamped.
When I surfaced, I could hear Macon yelling, "Get the canoe! Get the canoe!" I, frankly, did not care about the canoe...I wanted to get to shore! Where was Ralph? Searching the fast moving water, I saw him surface...and...oh, yes, there he was...he got the canoe! No matter, this missionary woman was determined to get out of the freezing water and she did! I stood watching Macon in the distance and my drenched and strong husband fighting the current to drag that canoe to the shoreline.
In survival camp, there was no contact or communication with the outside world. There was no GPS and it prepared us for three-day river trips, many in rainstorms with fast moving currents in a dugout to reach our home among the Kunas in Pucuro.
On one journey upriver, Ralph threw a plastic over the girls and I to keep us dry; however, between the heat and humidity, the plastic fogged over and the makeshift sauna forced us to unanimously decide to enjoy the hammering raindrops. Kim was just a few months old. Her boot camp had already begun!
“And we know that all things work together for those who love Him,and have been called according to His purpose.” Rom. 8: 28
This walk down memory lane has been a reaffirmation of how God uses adversity… difficulty… challenging times to confirm our commitment to Him and to those He is preparing us to serve.
What challenge are you facing today?
Is your anger revealing your true spiritual condition?
God is forever going before us, making sure we are prepared for the next task or circumstance. What a comfort to rest in Him, knowing nothing will ever touch us that has not already touched Him first. We can survive without anything, except …HIM!
“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue
at the testing point.” C.S. Lewis
~Jackie Johnson - I am a former tribal missionary to the Kuna Indians on the Colombian border in Central America. Fluent in several languages, my husband and I currently pastor a Spanish-speaking church in Southern California. My passion is discipling and equipping dedicated young women for life, marriage, motherhood, and beyond. I am the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of three Princesses and four young Knights.