Posted in Family, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, missions, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials

Lost in Niger

He counts the stars and calls them all by name.” Psalm 147:4

Don’t follow me. I’m lost.  That may sound like something a pastor should never write but at least one time in my life, that was the message.  It seems like I was probably ten years old, and Momma and Daddy bought me a new bike for my birthday, and I was so proud of that bike. I remember it having the little “streamy” things that kids used to put on their handlebars so they could wave in the breeze.

There was one other thing that set it apart.  Attached to the back of the seat was a little “tag” (you know, like a license plate but a lot smaller) and it said, “Don’t follow me. I’m lost.”  I don’t know if Momma and Daddy bought it and put it on the bike or if it came on it. However, since I was like most ten-year-old boys—it was probably appropriate.  Of course, at that time I had no idea that one day I would be a pastor and do my best to help people find the right path in their lives. We all know how imperfect preachers are but hopefully there is one thing that we can do and do right—show people how to follow Jesus.  After all, we all get lost, and we all need someone to point us in the right direction.

Several years ago, we were in Niger, West Africa and we were in the Sahara Desert.  We were traveling from one small village in the middle of nowhere on our way to another slightly larger village in the middle of nowhere.  Keep in mind this is West Africa and more often than not, you are going to end up on a road made of sand with only an occasional road sign.  Our missionary was driving a 4X4 and we thought we were heading in the direction of Abalak—a medium sized town in the middle of the desert.  We drove and drove, and she was pretty sure we were going in the right direction but who knew?  After all, it was West Africa, it was the desert, and signs were few and far between.

We drove for several hours till we came to a place where in the distance we could see a couple of tents and a few camels standing around.  I remember there was a young lady sitting on a donkey who looked like she could pass for Mary on her way to Bethlehem but there also was a man. We opened our window and the missionary greeted him and he asked where we were going.  She told him we were going to Abalak.  I remember his reply. In his local language he said, “Not this way, you’re not.” He also said that he had a cousin in Abalak.  Of course, in West Africa, in the middle of nowhere, it seemed everyone either knew or was related to everyone.  But he offered to guide us to Abalak if he could ride along.

Well, we readily agreed and off we went with a new friend pointing the way. Remember the song we sing at Thanksgiving about over the river and through the woods?  Well, it was just like that except it wasn’t Thanksgiving, there was no river and there were no woods but after several hours we did find ourselves in Abalak.  It turns out our new friend was just the person we needed.  We were lost and he pointed us in the right direction.

You know, sometimes in life we get lost too, don’t we?  Don’t be shocked and don’t make me turn in my “man card,” but I’ve actually stopped and asked for directions. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t, but it was always reassuring when the landmark the person mentioned or the right color of house on the corner appeared.  It was always about then I knew we were on the right path, and everything was going to be ok.

As we emerge from the pandemic and all of its craziness and if you are feeling a little lost, remember it is ok to ask directions.  It might be a trusted friend or someone you know from church, but it is ok to get a little help. I’ve found a Friend that always points me right where I need to go.  He never gets lost because He made everything and He is never wrong because, well, He’s just never wrong.

There is a place in the Bible where it says that He knows the total number of stars in the heavens, and He calls them all by name.  And I figure if He knows the stars…He probably knows the way I ought to go.  How about that?  So today, if you’re feeling a little lost, just ask Him.  He loves pointing people in the right direction and, as always, you can rest assured that “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Author:

Southern born. Love God, my wife, family, and a great adventure.

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