I remember the day well. We were newly arrived in PNG and had received a Twin Otter airplane charter filled with supplies for our new medical clinic as well as some of our personal goods. That particular day I was making my fourth and final trip over the mountain with the Kawasaki Mule. Heading back over the mountain with my last 350 pounds of boxes (among which were ALL of my linguistic and Bible translation materials), I ran into a rain storm. Not mist, not drizzle…but a tropical downpour. All I could think of were my “precious books” getting soaked in their boxes. Water was pooling in my lap as I drove; a river cascaded down the trail ahead of me as the Mule slid down the mountain, heavy laden with my precious books. My glasses were rain-spotted; my grip on the steering wheel was slipping; and my attitude was falling faster than the rain. Certainly, the Lord knew that I was coming over the mountain, and that my precious books were unprotected in the back of the Mule! Those precious, irreplaceable books!
As I pulled up to a soggy stop in front of the house, I politely screamed for help in carrying my precious books into the house out of the downpour. The water-logged boxes were beginning to come apart, and I wanted those precious books out of the rain!
After unloading it all, and spreading the precious books out to dry, my son (who is also my co-worker and my predecessor in this field) laughingly reminded me of where we live: A tropical RAINFOREST.
Sometimes we surprise ourselves by our own lack of “insight to the obvious.” Many things blind us to the realities that surround, not the least of which is our zeal. Too many times I have lit my own tail feathers and gone off writing in the sky, only to find out too late that the smoke of my sky-writing was at the expense of something I could not afford to lose.
Is it possible that God just might have a purpose I don’t understand when it rains, even if it rains on my precious books? In the weeks and years that followed, I found that God had something much more precious than my books in mind. He had people in mind. And He was using the rain to work on me.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:8-11)
Some lessons are learned the hard way. No lesson from Father is wasted. Books are not precious; people are. All it took was a tropical downpour to teach me a lesson.
So what part of “tropical rainforest” did I not understand? Better make sure that we clarify that part in all of our future missionary recruiting literature. We certainly wouldn’t want any more new missionaries coming over here and being surprised by the rain.