There are some moments that require you to stop and soak in your present reality.
I've had a lot of those moments lately...and yesterday was one of my favorites.
Dee*, an exceptionally cool lady I recently met, invited us to go on an adventure with her. I can hardly keep up with all the adventure I have in the small radius I operate in now, so I didn't really feel like going. But, I am glad we did...
We started early and after clearing the congestion of Conakry, spent another couple of hours driving through villages in the bush. We navigated through mountains, alongside steep ridges and twisted through forests. When the weaving roads proved too much for Wildheart, she objected by vomiting all over my legs. We stopped briefly to recover. I'll not soon forget the faces of the natives whose peaceful day was invaded by our chaotic and wildly putrescent, interjection.
We cleaned up and continued on. I was struck by the contrast of our modern vehicle driving on dirt roads through "neighborhoods" of thatched huts.
I felt like an intruder barreling through their quiet world.
We passed women and children at work, and one of our friends commented that they were doing things they same way they had for a hundred years. As a native of a country that has a new, more efficient way of doing things every five years, I was amazed.
I love the ingenuity of Americans...but I must admit, I was enamored with the beauty of simplicity and community of their methods.
Eventually, we parked at the top of a ridge and hiked down to a clearing where a table had been set in preparation for our arrival. Next to a small hut by a river, under the shelter of trees we sat and broke bread with a few precious ones. We sat on chairs made of sticks nailed together. Goats and chickens wandered by and we offended them by eating some of their rather delicious relatives. Blossoms twirled their way down from the tree branches, finding haven in our glasses. While we sipped juice of the Bobo tree, we took in a sweet smell the breeze was delivering from nearby trees. All of our senses were striving to keep up.
We finished and geared up for another hike, deeper into the bush. Little Aggie, walked ahead of me, periodically looking behind to make sure his old mama was keeping up. As we descended through thick forest, balancing our rocky steps, I was reminded of a few years ago when the LORD began telling me HE wanted me to live free of fear. There is still so far to go, but I realized that if HE hadn't begun that work in me, I would never be here, hiking my babies through a snake-filled African forest.
I relayed this observation to Dee, who added that life in Africa requires leaving your fears at home. After all, there really is no safe place but with the FATHER. It's safer to be on the ledge of a cliff with HIM than to be camped in an armored fortress HE didn't call you to.
Finally, we began to hear the roar of a waterfall. The trees cleared and we approached a stick foot bridge. Little Aggie ran fearlessly across while I followed a little more cautiously. On the other side we found the small beach of a pool whose waters were fed by the tall, glorious waterfall.
The kids charged into the cold water to swim and play. All I could do was stop and take in the reality of where I was. After several minutes, Curly Girl came up to me with a huge smile and no words.
I knew she was feeling the same thing as me.
"Can you believe you're swimming in a waterfall in the middle of a forest in Africa?" I asked.
She shook her head.
"Do you think GOD thought of us when HE made this waterfall? Do you think HE knew the Smith Girls were going to loooove this one?"
"YES!" she responded and then turned and bounded off to swim.
Adventure isn't without cost. There were so many things to be afraid of there, and you can bet that some of them crossed my mind. But, we wouldn't have this experience if we couldn't let go of them.
Francis Chan once compared this life to a gymnastic routine. Imagine a gymnast who spent the entire routine lying down, hugging the balance beam and then finished by carefully sliding off to stand before the judges. Not very exciting. Wouldn't you rather be the one who flips and jumps and barely maintains their balance on that narrow beam and finishes with a dramatic leap to the floor, hands in the air?
Well, I think that's what life with JESUS is meant to be. And it's only scary if I'm seeing it with earthly eyes. Spiritual eyes see beyond what looks scary. Spiritual eyes see that the FATHER has prepared the way ahead of you. Spiritual eyes see the joy and the wonder of abiding in HIM. Spiritual eyes see that when you're with JESUS and HE plans the adventure, all you are is safe.
I'll take an adventure like that anytime.