“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Strange things happen in Africa. For the past 12 or 13 years, our church has made regular trips to Africa. We began in Niger and later moved down to Mali. The last six years or so we have been working in Uganda. Regardless of what country, you can count on Africa to give you plenty of unusual and strange sights. So in some ways I wasn’t surprised.
We were on an island in Lake Victoria, Uganda. On any given trip we visit at least three or four different islands offering free medical care, children’s ministries, ladies ministries and visiting the people in their huts to tell them the stories of Jesus. The point of it all is to let them hear the Good News that there is a God who loves them—a lot. So we were winding down the day. The medical clinic was finishing and four or five of us men were sitting in the shade under the “front porch” of one of the buildings.
So, we were talking and like I said you see some strange things in Africa so I wasn’t surprised when my friend said, “Look, there goes a woman with a peg leg.” Well, I turned around to look and didn’t see what he was talking about. I did see a lady some distance away but couldn’t see her peg leg. I mean, the only peg legs I knew about were in Peter Pan, so my curiosity was peaked.
I turned back around but didn’t say anything. But, it stuck in my mind. After ten minutes or so, I just had to ask my friend about this strange sight. I said, “Tim, did you say something about a lady with a peg leg?” His expression told me I must have missed something. He gave me a perplexing look. All he could manage was a “uh?” I said, “You know, a few minutes ago you said you saw a lady with a peg leg.” He responded with, “No. I said I saw a man carrying a stringer of fish.” Silence. Snickers. Laughter.
Yup. Somewhere in the process of the conversation what was said and what I heard were two totally, and I mean totally, different things. There was no lady with a peg leg only a guy with a stringer of fish. You are probably wondering how I got “peg leg” out of “stringer of fish.” All I can say is strange things happen in Africa. I’m glad there wasn’t a crippled lady but the idea of a peg leg like Captain Cook’s sure did intrigue me.
And do you know what? Sometimes I think this happens with God and me. I think He is saying something and I totally miss it. Does that happen to you? I think it’s more common than we think. We think we hear Him say, “You have the right to be mad” and in fact He’s saying, “Forgive.” We think we hear Him say, “Take” and really He was saying, “Give.” Oh, and then we thought He said, “Quit” and He was saying, “Serve.” And it just goes on and on. We hear “Leave” and He is saying, “Stay.” We hear “Go ahead” and He is saying “Stop, wait, don’t.” Seems strange things don’t happen only in Africa. Smile.
So, I’m not sure what caused the totally humorous miscommunication in Uganda. It may have been my hearing, could have been the village noise…who knows. There may not have been a fix for that, however, when it comes to hearing God clearly there is something that will really help. It is His Word. In so many situations (though I’m not sure peg legs are one of them) the Bible gives us clear guidance.
Here is one thing you can count on. The voice of God (what we think we hear God saying) will not, ever, never, contradict the Word of God. If you think you hear Him saying, “Revenge” when someone has hurt you, you probably have “Peg Leg Syndrome.” If you think you hear Him saying, “Be afraid” when circumstances are frightful, you probably have “Peg Leg Syndrome.” You get the idea.
Talking about the Word of God, Paul said that it is good for learning, good for insight about what is wrong in our lives, good for correcting us when we are wrong and good for teaching us about how to live right. The Bible is an amazing Book. It has stood the test of time and, while there are different translations, there is not a version 4.3 because God got it right the first time. So if you are talking with your friends and someone mentions a lady with a peg leg, you might want to ask for some clarification. And if you think you heard God say something that sounds a little not like Him, check the Book, go to the source. Peg leg stories can be funny but withholding forgiveness when it is ours to give, hating instead of loving, leaving too soon instead of staying…well, that can cause a lot of pain. And if find yourself singing and living that 1974 hit “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” it might just be a bad case of Peg Leg Syndrome. Just pull out the Book, read a little and rest in Him. He’s got this.