Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8
It was like something out of National Geographic. I was on a vision trip to Uganda several years ago and it was one adventure after another. I was working with a missionary who had a ministry to the people living on the islands of Lake Victoria. This massive lake is the second largest in the world and is more like an inland sea than a lake. There are places that you can lose sight of the shoreline and you feel very much like you are out on the ocean.
Our vessel was anything but an ocean liner. It was a handcrafted open vessel that was about twenty-five feet long and powered by a fire breathing dragon of a motor with a whopping ten horsepower. We would tear across the lake at a heart stopping ten miles an hour. Ok, there really wasn’t a fire breathing dragon effect, nor were we tearing across the lake, but it was a great adventure! Usually.
One day, after a long day of preaching and teaching, it was time to head back to our home island. We were a little late leaving and night was coming soon, so it was imperative that we begin heading back. Our boat was parked in a small, secluded harbor and from there we all loaded up. There were only about six of us in the boat and the small engine started and off we went. As soon as we left the harbor we were greeted by some rough water. The waves were large enough to be “white caps” and I gave the missionary a glance but he assured me that these were not big waves. Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so is wave size. These were boat swallowing monsters. And then, after a few minutes, it happened.
As the pilot guided the boat and tried to determine just how to navigate the large waves…the motor quit. I mean, it just stopped. Suddenly, at least in my eyes, things got a bit more interesting. We could no longer navigate the waves, rather, we were at their mercy and no matter how hard the pilot pulled, the engine wouldn’t start. About then I began a worship service of sorts, part music, part prayer and part personal eulogy. You know, “Friends we are gathered here to honor the life of…” Meanwhile the pilot is still pulling on the motor and I kept praying.
Finally, one of the guys in the boat named Joseph went to work on the motor. Joseph is a young man that can do just about anything—from preaching to apparently fixing motors. The shorter version of a long story is that He proceeded to take the carburetor apart and “blow it out.” Now keep in mind we are still rocking like crazy…and I still am praying and preparing to die. But I had planned my funeral just a little too soon. Before long, Jospeh had the carburetor reassembled and back on the motor. Three or four quick pulls later and we were back “on the road.” The waves were still big (at least to me) but we were underway and eventually we arrived back at the other island. Safe—if not too sound.
It really was one of those times that I wished I had paid more attention at swimming lessons because I wasn’t totally sure of the outcome. But thankfully I did remember one thing. I remembered that whether I am rocking in a boat on the world’s second largest lake in East Africa or driving down the Interstate at 70 miles-per-hour surrounded by people looking at their cellphones or doing life in a tumultuous point in history, my Father, my Dearest Daddy, is in control. Fate and circumstances are not calling the shots—He is. And if that isn’t enough, we have the promise that the Lord will personally go ahead of us. He will be with us; He will neither fail us, nor will He abandon us.
Now to be clear that doesn’t mean that everything is going to turn out exactly as I would like. It doesn’t mean that I get to write the script and He has to follow it. Quite the contrary, He is writing the script and He invites me to trust Him and to believe that ultimately the end of the story is for my good and His glory. I’m learning that the story never ends here—it ends there. For the person who decides to trust Him there is always a surprise ending and that is—the end is not the end. We may change locations, but the story continues. How about that?
So, I survived that day on the lake and now have returned many times…each time taking others with me including the one that I love most on this earth—my wife, Judy. I do so knowing, that while there are risks, ultimately the pilot of the boat doesn’t sit at the back but up in heaven and He’s got his eye on us and everything we do. It’s true in East Africa and its true where you and I live. We can say with certainty that if we belong to Him, we don’t have to worry because, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne