Sunday, March 18, 2018

Third House Left Of The Forty-Second Bamboo Tree On The North Side Of The River

It was during Spiritual Emphasis week at language school when it happened. Time has dulled my memory as to all the circumstances, but during one chapel, a single missionary-elect stood up to unburden herself.  Distraught and in tears, Helen* described the situation she was heading into. She was going into the jungles of Colombia to teach missionary children at a remote mission outpost. Helen was attractive and capable but I suspected that the only two single American missionary men doing language study with us were too busy fending off all the beautiful “ticas” to pay her much attention. At that time, I was heading to Colombia as well, but unlike Helen, I was going to the urban setting of Medellin, one of the largest cities in the country.

For some reason, Helen was having second thoughts. She had no doubts about her calling. The problem was her “clock” — the biological one. It had suddenly hit her that out there in the middle of nowhere, the chances of her meeting “Mr. Right” were remote, if not non-existent. How was she going to meet the man of her dreams if she went where God had told her to go? As the date for her departure from San José drew closer, Helen had become all the more desperate about her single state.

Looking back, I wish I had known the following story. If I had, I would have shared it with Helen as a word of encouragement.

Several years into my service overseas, I was on Home Assignment and visiting a missionary prayer group in one of my supporting churches. The custom was to read to the ladies any prayer letters that had arrived, and then spend time praying over all the requests. A letter had arrived from a single gal working in Bangladesh, who was financially supported by the group. She’d been there for a couple of terms but was planning on returning to the states. Her “clock” was ticking and there were no prospects in sight. She had made all the arrangements, including booking her flight, when she got deathly ill and had to be hospitalized. Her departure date came and went and she was still in Bangladesh. When she was feeling a little better, the doctor allowed her to go for brief walks around the hospital grounds. On one of those walks, she noticed a man running toward her. As he came up to her, he stopped to introduce himself. He had just arrived that week to work in the mission hospital.

He was single—but not for long! One thing led to another and the soon-to-be-married single gal was writing to let her supporters know about her change in status, and that she and her husband would be staying to minister in Bangladesh.

If she had left when she planned to leave, she would have missed “Mr. Right.” Her illness was a “God-thing” meant to keep her where she needed to be so that He could provide for her.

God made biological clocks. He knows what we need. He also knows where we live and doesn’t require GPS to get there, or to get what we need to us. He goes where UPS doesn’t and where GPS can’t.

Of course, all eyes turned in my direction after that letter was read. The lady in charge of the meeting suggested that the group pray that God provide me with a husband just as He had provided this gal in Bangladesh. I appreciated the offer, but my biological clock had been out for repairs since I was born! So I came up with a better suggestion—one that I’ve mentioned to lots of other singles thinking about going overseas to follow God’s call but worried that Mr. or Miss Right wouldn’t be able to find them.

I told the ladies that if they wanted to pray for me,

Psalm 84:11 (NIV) was the perfect prayer: “…the Lord God is a sun and shield;the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

God would provide exactly what was good for me as I walked with Him. I believed that then, and I believe that now. And the next verse highlights what our attitude should be no matter what we need:

O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man [or woman] who trusts in you.

Helen went off to Colombia. I lost track of her after language school so I don’t know how her story ended. I can only hope that she stayed when God had sent her long enough to learn that when we trust in God, ALL our needs will be supplied. He knows where to find us.

*not her real name


 Lynda is a missionary, speaker, educator, writer, editor, and cat lover. She was born and raised in Timmins, the heart of gold mining country in northeastern Ontario, Canada. Lynda has served with Fellowship International for more than thirty years, first in Colombia, a brief stint on home staff in Toronto, Ontario and, more recently in Venezuela. She is currently on staff at First Baptist Church in Timmins, Ontario where her primary focus is spiritual formation. The author of Divine Design for Daily Living, a 365 day devotional journey through the entire Bible (published in Spanish and English),  Lynda blogs Lynda’s Grain of Sand, maintains her own website Northern Breezes , and has been seconded by Fellowship International to serve on the Communications team of The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada.

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