Category Archives: Lessons from the African Bush

Nuggets from lessons we experienced in the African bush as missionaries.

An Eye for Eternity

Birchenough Bridge 1966

Birchenough Bridge, Zimbabwe in 1966 Taken by Glyn Davies

AN EYE FOR ETERNITY

Yesterday our Pastor preached a heart stirring message that impacted me deeply. He challenged us to not allow our desire and focus of our heavenly home to be clouded by the “politically correct fodder” that is spreading like wild-fire, and the desire to amass worldly trappings, in this present life. It is so easy in this modern generation to get side-tracked, following the crowds who choose the “wide path” of ease and self-indulgence.
Musing over Pastor’s challenge last night I was reminded of an incident that brought this truth home to me in living color.

I had been outside pruning some of our bushes, even though it was a very hot and humid day. Now before those of you who know me well, start lecturing me, that I am not meant to be doing this type of work; just remember, I have a very independent streak and am not quite ready for a rocking chair!

Once the heat began to get to me, I came into the house to rest for a few minutes.
Turning on the ceiling fan, I stretched out in my recliner to “re-charge” my strength.
While laying there enjoying the cool air of the fan, I was transported in my “mind’s eye”, back to my childhood years.
I remembered with intense clarity Dad and Mom taking us children to the Hotel at Birchenough Bridge in the Sabi Valley. This was a very dry, hot and inhospitable part of the bush but it had one saving grace. The Sabi River ran through this arid area providing shade and water to the wild life and weary travelers.
This river was spanned by a beautiful single span bridge that for these early pioneer days in Rhodesia, was an engineering feat.
Sprawled on the banks leading up to the bridge was the Birchenough Hotel, which had been built to accommodate curious visitors who came to this very remote area, just to see the wonders of man’s ingenuity.

It just so happened that this area was part of Dad’s District, so we were very familiar with its pristine, primitive surroundings; and was always a highlight for us children when Dad would make at stop at the Hotel and Bridge.

The Birchenough Bridge Hotel was an oasis to escape from the oppressive heat of the day. It had a long veranda that ran around the building. The veranda was lined with ceiling fans and tables to accommodate guests seeking out respite from the relentless heat.
My thoughts carried me back to that moment in time.
I vividly remembered the soft whirl of the fans and the cacophony of sounds from African bush that surrounded us.
Dad and Mom would order tea and cucumber sandwiches and ice cold Cream soda for us children.
I remember seeing the waiters dressed in their crisply starched, white uniforms, walking softly on the concrete floor in their bare feet, delivering our treat of the day.
We would sit and sip our refreshments savoring its wonderful flavor and eat our cucumber sandwiches in total silence.
We were complelely absorbed by the beautiful trills of the song birds and the sounds from the bush; wafting gently to us on the cooling breeze. It seemed that we did not want to break the wonder of the moment with mundane conversation.
Suddenly I was flooded with a yearning to “go back home to that place and time,” as it represented a time of safety, security and peace. The yearning grew with such intensity that I had the sense that if anyone tried to prevent me from returning to “this place of peace and security” I would literally run them over.

This yearning set in motion a far stronger yearning in my heart. The Lord gently reminded me that this is exactly what heaven will be like and that we, as children of God, should have that same driving desire and intensity to make sure nothing stands in our way.
When it is time for us to enter our eternal rest, we will take that quantum step from mortality to immortality without hesitation and a shout of victory!
We, as children of God, need to be so focused on eternity that our vision is not “earth-bound” but “heaven-bound”.
We must not let anything stand in our way, even to the point that if something or someone does impede our eternal focus, we will “run them over”; just as an athlete circumvents the hurdles in the race!
I assure you my friends, Pastor’s morning message was a “tangible experience” for me and a lesson with such intensity, it will not be soon forgotten!
We, as children of God should, live continually with an “eye for eternity” in our focus!

Yes, Hebrews 12:1 & 2 is still in the Book!
Let nothing, absolutely nothing, stand in our way as we run this race that is set before us!

Hebrews 12:1-2 (KJV) “ Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

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A Ranger & an Elephant

Elephant at Mana by Marlon du Toit

(Photo by Marlon du Toit – used with permission.)

Anyone that has followed my Nuggets or seen many of my posts and pictures on Face Book can quickly see that I have a long standing love affair with African elephants. Apart from the obvious fact that I was born in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), I lived in an era when the country had not yet been tainted by the trappings of the modern world.
I grew up knowing what it was to see these magnificent animals plus many other African animals, in their natural pristine wild setting. As a teenager and subsequent years I read everything I could get my hands on about the character, personality and habits of Elephants; the more I studied them the more I fell in love with them. It goes without saying that these are unique and highly intelligent animals that continually amaze the naturalists that study them.

This Nugget was passed onto me from a friend, who served in the security forces in Rhodesia. I am sharing it because it is a prime example of the nature and intelligence of African elephants.
The setting of this experience took place when the terrorist war in Rhodesia was ratcheting up; heinous and brutal attacks on innocent farmers, villagers, children and missionaries were being perpetrated by bands of roving terrorists.
As missionaries we had been targeted on several occasions. They were even returning to their own villages and killing their own families. It was a time of carnage, heart-ache and tension for our beloved country. The setting for this account takes place in a wilderness sanctuary called Mana Pools.
To any Rhodesian, this place will evoke warm memories of camping or staying in a lodge with so many species of wild-life moving freely in the bush, within sight of the camps. Mana Pools is well known for its elephant population.
Due to the ever increasing problem with poaching, there was a good Game Ranger contingency that patrolled the Mana Pools area daily. Many patrolled on foot and others patrolled with Land Rovers. One of the Game Rangers; who for the purpose of this account I will call “Boet” (to protect the identity of the family), was assigned the perimeter patrol.
He daily did his forays into the deep bush in his trusty bush scarred Land Rover. He carried a radio for communications with base camp, a high powered rifle and the obligatory canvas water bag; that hung on the front of the vehicle providing a source of cool water.
One day he was in a more remote part of the Reserve and he stopped under the shade of an Acacia tree to eat his sandwiches. The serenity of his resting place was disrupted by the entrance of a rather agitated young bull elephant. It would seem he had parked in this particular spot the elephant used for his afternoon siesta!
Boet gently released the clutch and moved a short distance away where he could observe the elephant in relative safety. He appeared alone; probably a young bull that had been kicked out of the herd as he was getting too big and it was time for him to be separated by the matriarch elephant from the babies. Once he moved the elephant relaxed and stood contentedly; while keeping a wary eye on the human intruder. Finally Boet drove off to finish his rounds and headed back to base camp.

Day after day this scenario was repeated! Boet would park under the tree and within a few minutes, his new found friend would arrive letting him know he needed to move!
Over time the elephant became relaxed and comfortable with this strange smelling machine and its human occupant! So Boet decided to try an experiment and slowly got out of the Land Rover and simply stood still beside it. The first couple of times the elephant became agitated but slowly he relaxed and would stand resting under the shade of the tree with what now was his human companion. Weeks passed and Boet gradually built a trust with the elephant, to the point of tossing him dog biscuits which he downed with relish.
Even though Boet had developed a comfortable relationship with the elephant, he did not try touching him as he did not want him becoming too trusting of humans, for fear he would easily become a poacher’s victim.

One morning he was asked to check an area that was not on his normal patrol route, as there had been some reports of a possible poacher camp. Boet headed out bumping along as he followed the animal trails. He reached the area in question and his keen “bush sense” told him something was wrong. The calls of birds, chirping of crickets…..all normal sounds of the African bush had fallen silent and there was an uneasy air prevailing strong enough to give Boet the goose-bumps.
His eyes scanned the tangled bushes then without warning, all hell broke loose. Boet had actually driven into a camp of a band of terrorists and not poachers, as he was expecting.
Four men came out of the undergrowth with their AK 47 assault rifles blazing; Boet was out gunned and outnumbered! As he tumbled from the Land Rover crawling on his belly to hide behind it, he frantically radioed base camp for help, and then began to fire back knowing that it was highly unlikely help could arrive before these four men took him out. If he was going down he was going to go down with a fight! Bullets were flying and hitting the Land Rover, Boet took a hit in the leg but was determined not to give up when suddenly silence reigned.

What had happened? Why had the terrorists not finished him off?
The shriek of an enraged elephant gave him his answer.
Out of nowhere the elephant that Boet had developed a friendship with, came charging through the bush and straight for the terrorists who dropped their weapons and fled for their lives!
Boet was shaking so hard with his brush with death that it took a few minutes to regain his composure. He pulled off his belt and made a tourniquet to staunch the bleeding, then propped himself up against the land rover hoping the ranger team would arrive soon as he could not defend himself if the terrorists came back.
Then the elephant did a strange thing; instead of continuing to chase the fleeing men, he came back and silently stood right beside the disabled vehicle and his injured human friend. He made no attempt to leave; just standing guard until a Patrol of Rangers arrived. Then silently, the elephant melted into the bush as though he knew his duty to Boet was done.

Why had the elephant come when he did as this was not their normal meeting place?
How did he know his kind human friend was in trouble and badly needed help?
I have no answers to these questions but it shows the amazing level of intelligence of these magnificent animals and the result of a trust that had been forged between the Ranger and a wild elephant. Amazingly Boet never ever encountered his wild friend again.

One thing I have learned in my journey with God is that many times God will meet our immediate need from the most unlikely sources!
He has promised His trusting children Divine protection! An example of this promise is:

Psalm 91:11 (NKJV) “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”

That hot day in the Mana Pools wilderness, God sent an “angel” in the form of an elephant to save Boet from being killed by evil men!

This gives me courage to face my tomorrows no matter how foreboding they appear, for I have a Divine friend who is walking beside me and who is greater than any enemy, or evil plan, that would harm me!
Yes, in today’s world, the “out-look” may be bleak; but I assure you the “up-look” is bright!

Let me close with God’s promise to Joshua of old, which still stands true today.

Joshua 1:9 (NKJV) “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

 

Water of Life

Elies on the move by Michael North Imagery

Photographer – Michael North Imagery (Used with permission)

One of the amazing things about the African bush is the symphony of sounds that are carried on the warm breezes during the course of the day and the night. The bush is never truly silent. Each insect, bird or animal has a distinctive musical signature. To those who have had the privilege of spending extended periods of time in the bush, quickly learn to recognize the “music of the heart of Africa” and the can identify its source. The bird calls are prolific, each one with a unique call. Animals both large and small have vocalization among themselves which communicate a variety of emotions that they are experiencing; from fear to contentment.
Throughout the uninhabited bush there are areas where pools of water collect during the rainy season and slowly shrink, eventually drying up at the height of the dry season. These areas are known as “salt pans” and the animals instinctively know how to find them to quench their thirst. It is not uncommon to see a whole spectrum of wild life mingle together around a salt pan as they satiate their thirst.

We have sat in the dubious security of a vehicle or up in a man-made viewing platform near a salt pan for many a pleasant hour. Our presence is not hidden from the animals as they all have a keen sense of smell. As long as we are still and quiet all is well as we do not pose a threat to them. We would sit drinking in the picturesque scene unfolding before us, listening to the distinguishing vocalization of the animals as they intermingled at the water’s edge. In a tree close by the call of the Grey Lourie; more commonly known as the “Go-away bird”; sounded the alarm of our presence. This bird’s call sounds as though he or she is saying “go-away”; to the hearer it instantly symbolizes the wonders of the Rhodesian bush.
A small herd of Impala hesitantly stepped out from the shelter of the scraggy bush and walked carefully to the water’s edge; ever alert even while drinking. Next a mother Warthog with 5 noisy squealing piglets came scampering across the dry sandy approach to the water. Across the salt pan two giraffe made quite the comical site with their front legs spread wide so their long neck could reach the water. Lurking under the surface of the muddy water was a veracious killer; a crocodile, just waiting for an opportunity to grab an animal that was not vigilant. Life in the bush can be cruel, survival of the fittest was lived out daily; but this was very much part of the natural rhythms of life.

Something to the side of our position caught our attention which caused us to hold our breath. As silently as the falling of the morning dew, a herd of elephant had moved within a few yards of where we were seated. It was mind boggling that such large animals could approach us so quietly that we were totally unaware of their presence until they moved into our line of vision. No wonder we love to call them “gentle giants”! They made their way confidently to the salt pan, they feared no enemies. The young elephants entertained us with their antics splashing with gay abandon as they played in the cooling water. Mothers would corral their little ones which strayed too far with gentle rumblings and nudges with their trunks.

Suddenly an eerie silence invaded the scene before us, not even the smallest bird was chirping. What had happened to change the tranquil scene that we were soaking in?
The animals showed their apprehension with every muscle ready for flight, except the elephants. The matriarch of the herd spun around with agility belying her bulk, letting out a powerful shriek while shaking her head. Instantly the herd closed ranks behind her putting the young ones in the center and out of harm’s way. The subject of her ire was the arrival of four lionesses either on the hunt or simply wanting a drink! Smaller animals took the opportunity to flee to the safety of the bush while the elephant Matriarch challenged the lionesses’ right to the salt pan. There was a few minutes of a stand-off but in this case “might was right” and the lions turned and sauntered back into the bush leaving the elephants the victors.
The haunting call of a fish eagle echoing across the valley reminded us that the sun was soon going to be setting; so reluctantly we headed back to “our world” carrying the sights and sounds of the unspoiled Rhodesian veld, at its best. We had a rich heritage that we carry in our hearts no matter where our feet take us!

The refreshment of the life giving waters of the salt pans in Rhodesia reminds me of the account in John 4 of the Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus at the well. Now I am sure my readers are scratching their heads and thinking this a quantum leap on my part! Hold steady and follow my line of thinking!
In this passage of scripture we read the account of a Samaritan woman if questionable repute arriving at the well to draw water. To her chagrin she finds a Jewish man sitting at the well that breaks all cultural rules and asks her to draw some water for him to drink. This request from Jesus engages the woman in a conversation and this is where my picture of the Salt Pan comes into play!

You see thirsty animals had to make daily trips to the Salt Pan to drink from its quenching water. They needed that water so survive but it required returning daily.
So too, this Samaritan woman had to make daily trips to the well to draw water as its ability to quench her thirst was limited; it did not last forever.

Jesus explained this principal to the woman and then went on to give her an amazing promise:

John 4:13-14 (NKJV) Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

The animals visiting the Salt Pan would never have the opportunity that the woman of Samaria had offered to her. Jesus was going beyond satisfying the physical thirst and offering the woman an eternal spring that would quench her spiritual thirst and lead her to everlasting life!

Are you tired of the chaos of life and THIRSTY for peace and security? Then drink deeply from the spring that the Lord makes freely available to weary mankind. That divine spring leads to everlasting life and peace.

Listen for the Song

White breasted Bee eater. By Michael North Imagery (Used with permission)

White breasted Bee eater. By Michael North Imagery (Used with permission)

LISTEN FOR THE SONG

Music is the language of the soul. It comes in many forms some raucous, loud, jarring; some created by master musicians whose subtle notes cause the hearer’s emotions to soar to lofty heights. Then there is music that is part of the foundation of our faith which brings comfort and courage to the seeking hearts. There is another source of music that is pristine in its beauty yet many never hear it. It is the song that comes from nature that fills our daily lives which many drown out with the distractions of this modern life.

Among my cherished memories are the times when we lived in remote areas in the bush of Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and hearing the songs of the bush. For the initiated ear the African bush is never truly silent. Dawn arrives, drifting softly in satin slippers gently rousing the bird life first. Before the crimson fingers of the rising sun have touched the Masasa trees the birds announce the new day, with melodies that defy the imagination. As I became familiar with the bird songs I learned to identify the different species by their trilling calls.

Slowly the rest of the animals in the bush begin to stir. The night prowlers find their chosen place of rest for the day and the animals that feed and play during the day begin to vocalize to one another. Baby elephants squealing in play; while the mothers give off deep rumbles, keeping their energetic babies in line. The sharp “bark” coming from a herd of Springbok heading to the river for a morning drink, signals to all the animals in the surrounding area that a predator is on the prowl. If one is patient and silent you might even hear the “chirp” of baby cheetahs calling their mother. The sounds of the African bush floating gently on the soft winds become a cacophony of songs that is a balm to the soul. There is one requirement though. In order to fully immerse your senses in the songs of the bush veld you have to take the time to stop and “listen”! Your ear needs to be tuned for the songs just as a mother’s ears are tuned for the faintest cry of her child.

Having spent so many years in Africa I developed a deep love and appreciation for its sounds which were music to my heart. As a result music has played a vital role through-out my life and even in my relationship with God. During times of deep heart-ache God has always given a song; during times of joy there was a song……yes……in every season of my life I have found the “song of God’s heart” by listening for it. I assure you, just as the trumpeting of an African elephant close by will give you a rush of adrenaline, so too God has a song that will cause your heart to race or stir you to tears!

Do you want to soar with the eagles to the loftiest mountain peaks? The song from God’s heart will take you there!

Do you long for a place of peace? Listen and the song from God’s heart will carry you to “green pastures” where you can rest and bathe your soul in His melodies that minister peace.

There is a song for all to hear but we must silence all the other voices demanding our attention and LISTEN FOR THE SONG!

Exodus 15:2 (NKJV) 2 The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.

 

 

Feathers and Temptation

FEATHERS AND TEMPTATION

Roaring Lion photographer unknown

Roaring Lion photographer unknown

My mother stepped out on the porch at the Rufaro Mission house scanning the area for me. It was early in the morning and life was stirring on the Mission compound.

I had hopped out of bed when I heard the herd of milking cows being driven into the milking shed. I dressed quickly, didn’t bother with socks or shoes and headed out to watch the milking. It fascinated me how skillfully Tubeho was able to quickly get a stream of warm milk directed into the pail sitting between his feet where he sat on a low milking stool. I was determined to learn how to do it and would beg Tubeho to let me try. He would chuckle and pat the stool for me to sit on. Then with the experience of time he would guide my hands to draw down on the udders. Some days I was not successful but other days I would manage to get a weak stream of milk which was cause for much laughter and squealing of happiness on my part.

When Mom could not see my red-head anywhere she figured I was down at the cattle kraal so she sent Matikala to call me to come up to the house for breakfast.

I raced back to the house, my eyes sparkling with excitement as I had been successful in learning my milking lesson this morning! My tongue was running a mile a minute and Mom shooed me to go wash my hands, then join her and Dad at the roughhewn table for our breakfast; followed by family devotions which included any of the staff that were in the kitchen or in the dairy.

While we were eating, my parents were having a discussion about what animal was getting into the chicken run and killing Mom’s  laying hens. They had reinforced the mesh chicken wire but after a few days the cunning animal would finally find a way into the run; in a flash it would grab a hen and make off with it through the opening it had found. I sat listening to the conversation; Dad speculated that it might be a fox or a mongoose. Mom was too frustrated to speculate what it could be but it was clear to me that she wanted it caught sooner than later!

Dad gathered the staff and after reading a passage of scripture the little group knelt and raised their voices in prayer. I loved to listen to the different voices call upon the Lord in prayer; a blend of hearts speaking in their own languages in humility to the Lord they loved!

As the devotion time was coming to a close there was a frantic knocking on the kitchen door and a voice calling; “Mfundisi (teacher or missionary) come quickly and bring your gun!” Startled by the unexpected intrusion Tubeho ran and threw open the door to see who was calling for a gun!

One of the school children from the Mission School had been sent to get some milk for the children’s morning tea. As he passed the chicken run a sight filled his eyes that sent shivers down his spine. A large wild cat had got into the run but was unable to find his way back out. Several dead chickens, a pile of stray feathers spread across the dirt run, combined with the snarling of the angry cat added an even more ghoulish atmosphere to the scene.

Dad grabbed his rifle, he and Tubeho were the first out the door with several of the male staff following. Naturally I wanted to go with but to my chagrin mother made me wait with her on the safety of the verandah. A short time elapsed before a single shot rang out, reverberating on the granite Kopjie  (rocky hill) beside the house.

I held my breath wondering what Dad had shot but did not have to wait long to see what the

Mom holding African Wild Cat

Mom holding African Wild Cat

chicken thief was. I let out a gasp when I saw the large wild cat Tubeho was carrying to the veranda to show Mom. Suddenly the tension of the unknown was broken and everyone began to laugh and chatter excitedly.  The chicken thief had been caught much to my mother’s relief; as the eggs from the hens played a vital part in our and the school children’s diet! Sadly for the wild Cat his taste for a juicy fat hen cost him his life.

Reflecting back on this episode, that took place while I was a mere child in Africa, I can see a valuable lesson that carries through into today.

The wild cat made a huge mistake by straying from his natural prey and chose to raid hens that were an easy catch. Today we are living in dangerous and evil times.  Look at what the Apostle Paul warns says on this topic:

Ephesians 5:15-16 (NKJV) “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Paul is encouraging us to be careful with the choices we make in this life. If we chose the easy road that is littered with lucrative but questionable choices we will find ourselves in a world of hurt.

What does Paul mean when he says that we should “walk circumspectly”?

He is telling us that during these evil days we are to be constantly vigilant of snares that will affect our walk and relationship with God.

Even the Apostle Peter exhorts us along the same lines that Paul did. He reminds his readers:

1 Peter 5:8 (NKJV) “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

We are living in a time where wickedness abounds.  Peter likens the devil to a roaring lion “seeking whom he may devour”. In order to thwart the snares and wiles of the devil we need to be sober, alert and very wary of the choices we make in our daily walk. If we yield to the temptation to take the easy road we will end up just like the African wild cat did that early morning on our Mission Station in Rhodesia!

TAKE HEED my friends in the path you walk and choices you make!

Priorities-Temporal or Eternal

A typical hut in an African Village

A typical hut in an African Village

PRIORITIES-TEMPORAL OR ETERNAL

In a recent Face Book post I encouraged each one of you to set your eyes skyward.  I want to continue with that theme in today’s Nugget. The Apostle Paul encouraged the saints with a similar encouragement when he penned the following words:

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” Col 3:2 NIV

I am pretty confident that if the average American had the opportunity to visit or to live in a poverty stricken Third World country; this verse of scripture would take on a whole new meaning for them.

For many years of my life and my husband’s life; our feet walked the dusty paths of the African bush which led to remote villages. Many in the village would be barely clothed and the majority of the small children had no clothes to wear at all. The darkened mud huts showed the stark contrast between their primitive world and modern day trappings that more affluent nations take for granted. Once your eyes became accustomed to the gloom inside the hut you would see a dried cow hide or weaved grass mat laying on the hardened mud floor, which served as the communal bed for the family. Furniture was non-existent unless the father had hand-made a semblance of a rugged table and bench which would be considered a treasured possession.

Cooking utensils usually consisted of a couple of tin pots, along with a few hand beaten tin cups and plates. Wooden spoons for stirring would be hewn from local hardwood trees. Hand woven reed baskets would be stacked in a corner to store the ground corn meal which was their staple diet.

There was no running water or electricity in these villages. Most of their day was spent by the women of the village tending their small gardens and long walks to a nearby river to draw water to cook with and drink. Children would spend the day herding the few malnourished milking cows, goats and donkeys. A few more fortunate members of the village might have the luxury of a rickety bicycle to use as transport.

At best it was not an easy life especially compared to life in our modern cities.

So many individuals in the affluent world place great importance on instant gratification and acquiring more stuff. But “earthly things” lose their appeal once the bill arrives and the interest on the credit cards starts piling up. When that happens, blessings can turn into curses and rob these individuals of the joy of living.

It has been noted that materialism doesn’t satisfy because it’s tyrannical; and human beings were born to be free.

We find we don’t own the house—the house owns us. We’re married to a mortgage. We become slaves to gadgets and garments. After they’re purchased, delivered and installed, we enjoy a fleeting sense of pleasure, but they still dominate, dictate and demand; ‘Press me, polish me, patch me, paint me, prune me, plaster me!’

It is a sad reflection if we spend our best years and the bulk of our money working for ‘things,’ until… we’ve no time or strength left to pursue life’s truly eternal callings.

Surely it should be our greatest priority to invest our time, energy and finances to further the “good news” of the Kingdom of God!

Paul says, ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain’ (1Ti 6:6 NIV). To experience that contentment we need to count our blessings every day and thank the One who made them all possible yet recognizing that the greater importance lies in things which are eternal.

I close this Nugget with a quote taken from the writings of Jon Walker: “Assume there’s an imaginary line dividing what you can see from what you can’t see—the temporal from the eternal. Our objective-in-Jesus is to look upon the things ‘above,’ so we can understand that what we see and feel is not a full and accurate measurement of God’s reality…people are eternal beings, and decisions that seem insignificant now, when seen in the fullness of reality, are of eternal significance.”

How about checking your priorities today – I know I am!

 

 

POWERFUL PROTECTOR

Charging elephant - photographer unknown

Charging elephant – photographer unknown

POWERFUL PROTECTOR

My voice has been silent for many weeks on my Blog. Many of you know that this past month my husband and I have been traversing some very turbulent waters. Glyn contacted a debilitating bacteria and we have had to fight hard for his life. This Blog will give you an insight into the emotional roller coaster ride we have experienced and continue to be on!

A Pastor friend posted this scripture verse on his Face Book page today.

Psalm 116:7-8 (NKJV) Return to your rest, O my soul, For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you. For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling.

When I read his post I messaged him that these two verses summarize the events that have unfolded over the past month in our own personal journey. We have experienced moments of ecstatic joy only to get broadsided yet again and find ourselves plunging into the depths of despair. Glyn’s physical battle with the debilitating CDIF bacteria literally knocked our world off its orbit! Through all the eruptions of emotions, exhaustion, fears and tears that have become our daily onslaughts; one thing remains steadfast…….God’s powerful promises to us.

Having spent years in Africa; we have been privileged to watch firsthand the daily battle between “predator and prey” and experience the ebb and flow of death and life being played out in the African bush. Predators such as adult lions, leopards and cheetah have mastered their art of seeking out and catching their prey. There are certain of the “big game” that these master predators have learned to respect though; one of them is the majestic “gentle giants” of the bush……the adult elephants.

A pride of lions will only go after the sick or small babies of an elephant herd. Should they happen upon a baby or juvenile elephant that has strayed or lagged behind the formidable protection of the herd, they will take the opportunity to come in for the kill, using stealth and speed to spring on their unsuspecting prey.

More often than not, it does not end well for the pride of lions, even though they are armed with claw and teeth which their prey, a baby elephant in this case, has nothing to defend itself with. At the first swat of the dominant lion’s claws, the elephant will begin squealing loudly for his or her mother. Only in isolated cases is the mother elephant ever out of ear-shot of her baby. Upon hearing that cry for help ten thousand pounds of muscle and sinew will explode out of the bush with such speed that it boggles the mind to see an animal of this size move so fast. Every nerve in her massive body will be at fever pitch to reach her baby before the predators succeed in their mission. Her trumpeting rises to a crescendo that is capable of making the blood run cold and the fury of her attack is hard to comprehend. With one swing of her powerful trunk she will send a full grown 300 pound lion flying and then with a swift jab of her deadly tusks she will disembowel her victim. Her screams of defiance and protection bring other members of the elephant herd into the fray. By now the remaining members of the lion pride will hastily retreat into the bush, knowing that they had chosen the wrong prey! Once the mother elephant knows her baby is safe she gently will guide the little one back into the protection of the herd.

I trust by now you are seeing where I am going with this Nugget. God comes swiftly in answer to the cry of his children, to protect them, succor them and sustain them against the attack of the enemy.

At this juncture let put to rest the protestations of those who thrive on theological debates! I am NOT saying that God is a woman!

I am merely painting a picture of the intense protection & caring a mother elephant has for her young to show that God’s concern for His children is even greater! I am attempting to give you a visual “plumb-line” to focus on!

In the midst of the darkest hour and deepest time of testing God mercy becomes a tower of strength and He will bring good out of the direst of attacks from the enemy of our souls.

You may ask………..what about the persecuted church?

What about countless ones in this troubled time that we live; who are dying for their faith?

Does God not care about them? Does God merely have his “favorites” that He protects?

Let my answer reverberate down the halls of time……. NO………ABSOLUTELY NO.

God hears our cry and as we see in Psalm 116:7-8 He deals bountifully with us according to His Divine knowledge and Will.

He will do what is BEST FOR HIS CHILDREN.

For the child of God there is no bad outcome.

If God comes to our aid and delivers us, we put the enemy to flight.

If God in His infinite mercy takes us home to Glory, our earthly suffering is over and our eternal reward awaits us.

So either way, my friends, the child of God wins!

YES – God, in His mercy HAS sustained us.

Through this time of testing He has preserved and protected us.

He has delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, And my feet from falling!

BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD!