7:23 p.m., September 23
Bolts of lightning flash across the sky, illuminating the dark night. On my perch at the edge of Justin’s bed I begin to count; one, two… Thunder explodes overhead, the sound waves rolling over the dips and valleys of the mountainous island we call home.
Justin whimpers and dives under his pillow, covering his ears. I sit motionless as I feel the sound waves vibrating through the tile floor. Fighting my own fear at the powerful sights and sounds, I turn my thoughts over to God.
As a child I always thought that thunder was God speaking and recently I looked it up. I found quite a few Bible verses on thunder, some of my favorites being:
Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? Job 40:9
The Lord thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice. 2 Sam 22:14
God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend. Job 37:5
Seeing God’ s power in the storm fills me with awe and a deep reverence for Him. It serves as a good reminder that we serve a powerful God.
My thoughts turn to the previous week, where I had put myself, so to speak, in God’s place. What a failure that turned out to be.
Anoud and Denise and their four children, who live with us, had been heavy on my heart. Phillipians 2:4 says “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” In other words don’t only look out for your own interests and affairs but also look out for the interest and affairs of others.
As I prayed and asked God how I could help them He reminded me of the words in Ezekiel 16 where it talks about strengthening the hands of the poor. How can I do this I wondered?
In my kitchen, later that morning, I came up with the idea that maybe I could teach Denise how to cook American style food. I talked to her and she was very excited. A few days later I saw a note online from someone in Port au Prince who was looking for a part time cook. It would just be a week or two each month and on those days only several hours in the afternoon, which would work perfectly for Denise.
I contacted the lady who wrote the note and then set up an interview. At the interview we quickly ran in to some difficulties, as the lady did not speak Creole. I acted as translator however, and the lady said she would be interested in having Denise come for a practice run for a week. I came up with a meal plan, a grocery list, spent hours going over simple recipes with Denise and then translated them into Creole. Then I busied myself trying to control every possible variable.
When I received a message at the end of the week saying it was not going to work out, I was devastated! Here I thought I was doing what God wanted me too! And it had seemed to be going so well too; Denise was catching on very quickly, was learning English words and had even conquered her fear of dogs! Confused and upset I went to bed and sobbed into my pillow. As I lay crying I was suddenly reminded of the words God had led me to earlier that week.
Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:1-2
“But God,” I argued in my mind, “I thought I was supposed to strengthen the hands of the poor, to look out for the interests of others?
The song we had recently sung in church began to play through my mind. “The battle belongs to the Lord…”
Sighing, I realized my mistake. I had done what He said, but I took it too far. I thought the outcome was up to me as well.
More verses flooded my mind. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9.
I laid there, silent; now only an occasional tear trickled down.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. Psalm 127:2
Comforted, I slowly drifted off to sleep.
The following morning I dreaded telling Denise what the lady had said but she took it in a stride. “Can I still keep learning to cook and practice English she asked?” I nodded. “These skills won’t be wasted,” she continued, “There’s plenty of other people out there who at the right time will need a cook.” I nodded again, dumbly.
Now sitting here quietly in the darkened bedroom watching God’s lightning and hearing His thunder I’m comforted by the fact that He’s in charge, not me. That His thoughts and ways are higher. That the battle belongs to Him. I need to obey and then leave the outcome in His capable hands.