In an unfinished concrete house, on a hillside with a far-away view of the Caribbean Sea, as a young staff member with Cru I began my first assignment outside the U.S. mainland. Two years in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, four years in Mexico, and 28 years in the Philippines later, I returned to the U.S., wiser and grateful.
During cross-cultural training before going overseas, I awoke early to see a man reaching through the hotel window that opened over my bed. I couldn’t make a sound, but he saw my eyes, withdrew his arm, and disappeared. Coming to terms with this incident, I was struck by Psalm 91, often quoted by believers in these days of the corona virus crisis. This line stood out to me: “I will be with you in trouble” (verse 15b). I wouldn’t always be protected from trouble, but the Lord would always be with me in it.
He was with me, on the days I traveled as a single and no one in the world knew where I was. He was with me when I didn’t make it home to see my mother before she died. He was with me when I miscarried, and my team comforted me.
Trial on vacation
In the Philippines, my husband, Ed, and I often took our family to the beach for vacation. We were swimming in the beautiful blue waters of the South China Sea, when our eldest child, six-year-old Stephen, was swept far out by an undertow we didn’t know about. No lifeguards or boats were around.
Ed prayed and committed us all to the Lord’s care as he set out swimming for Stephen, not knowing if he would survive trying to reach him. When Ed was still about 10 meters away from our son, a wave suddenly brought them together. The Lord was with my family. He was with me.
As a missionary, I had longed and prayed to have a Bible study with influential women I had led to the Lord myself. When it happened, and then came to a crashing end because of an antagonistic religious leader, He was with me as I sorted through my feelings of devastation.
On countless overseas flights, He was with me. And He was with me when I missed our grown-up children, who had gone from in-flight bassinets to leaving on flights of their own for college.
In the joyful times
He was with me also in the joyful times, when the light would come on in someone’s face as, suddenly, they understood God’s Word…Fely, the postmistress who closed the post office early for our Bible studies in the back room…Leila, the photo shop clerk who told me she was miserable.
After a year of trying, we met, and Leila put her faith in Christ. Quickly involved in a local church, she proclaimed: “You don’t have to worry about me anymore.” The Lord was with me in times with all the lovely people, poor to rich, whose lives my family was privileged to touch.
Yes, He was with me, tailoring each job, building experiences and skills I would need later on. Using me in spite of my doubts, immaturity and cultural faux pas. Thrilling my soul with the daily beauty of sunrise, family, bougainvilleas, His Word. Stirring Ed and me when it was time to come back to the U.S., and smoothing our readjustment.
I may never again sleep in a riverboat hammock on the Amazon, crunch on a roasted beetle in Thailand, or tell a taxi driver in Manila about Christ. But I was blessed to be a blessing. And He was with me. Dear fellow believer, I am so glad He is with you.
In your challenges, cries, issues, and dreams, He is with you. Bringing counsel, a friend, a chance to minister, and an answer to prayer, all at just the right time. He is with you, and He will be with you. It is true: “Underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27b). Ah, your soul can relax and be at home in that love.
P.S. You might be encouraged by my Scripture song for Psalm 91 in Music.
Photo credit: Bougainvilleas by Tayla Kohler on Unsplash