A few years ago, I had the privilege of spending a summer in the Amazon Jungle. I don't blame you if you're thinking, "Really? Her?!" I thought the same thing. I had never been camping, had never even slept outside, and did not like meat. But I craved adventure with God and, without sounding trite, the trip was truly life changing in every respect.
Monkey on a platter. Pretty salty, but lots of protein!
While I was there, I kept a thorough journal to document each day. I flipped through it this morning, revisiting story after story of God's faithfulness. To taste again my utter dependency on Him for all that I needed each day was refreshing and left me wanting more. He not only kept me from disease when I ate jungle rat, monkey brain, and crocodile, but protected me when swimming across the Amazon River and as we traveled by canoe through dark waters. It sounds like I'm making this up. He also blessed our time there with more than 40 people coming to know Him as Lord.
We found this guy crawling toward our sleeping bags on our first night in the jungle.
One of the stories I read in my journal really struck me because it was just what I needed to hear today. I hope it encourages you as well.
One afternoon, our jungle pastor Jorge received news of an 11-year-old boy in another village who desperately needed some medication that we had. Without it, he would likely die. Jorge invited me to accompany him (because I could speak Spanish) and he and a couple of our Peruvian crew and I hopped into a motorized canoe. The trip would take about 2 hours, and Jorge asked if I wanted to steer the boat. I happily obliged.
As I steered, night fell like a blanket over the landscape and all I could see was a glowing silhouette of the jungle ahead. Even though I was in charge of steering, I had to rely completely on Jorge, who knew these waters well, to guide me through the river. He would tell me to steer to the right or to the left to avoid an unseen rock or branch that he knew was under the water. As we drove the boat straight ahead, it looked as though we were headed full speed into the trees. But to my right, I could see a wider path through the muddy water. It seemed a much safer way to go. At times, I would try to veer just barely to the right, hoping Jorge wouldn't notice. Each time, he would say softly, patiently, "a la izquierda, hija" (to the left, daughter). I'd clench my teeth and pull left again despite every instinct to stay right.
Finally, just when it seemed we would drive the boat straight into the black jungle, a small inlet opened up on the horizon and we slowed the boat into the clear, dark waters that had been hiding. Within a few minutes, we had reached our destination.
The parallel is obvious. Sometimes it seems that when following the Lord's narrow path for our lives, we are driving a speeding boat toward land. We think we know a better way and try to steer the boat toward smoother, safer waters. But Jesus sits in front of us in that boat saying softly, patiently, "Stay on my course."
We are so shortsighted. We simply cannot see what's ahead of us, but He knows exactly where we're headed. And if the Holy Spirit is truly guiding us, there is nothing at all to fear because the looming land will soon break open into clear, life-giving water. It is never the easy way to go, but choosing the wider path doesn't require an ounce of faith and does not allow us to reach our intended destination.
Today I had a job interview. On paper, the job would make complete sense - easy work, good pay, benefits. But when I know that deep down God is asking me to trust Him and wait for the best job (and clearly, this is not it), I can't accept this job in good conscience.
And so I wait for His next directions. Life is too short to make safe choices.
Me with Jorge Monterro, a true saint of a man. He has poured his life into the people of the Amazon and seen so many turn to Christ.