She That Tarried At Home
Psalm 68:12 The kings of the armies did flee apace: and she that tarried at home divided the spoil.
Stephen has just pulled out for a return trip to evangelize in the remote villages of “The Gima Circuit”. As I watched the truck go down the hill I recalled the last time he left for this circuit and how my heart longed to be going too. In his sweet way, Stephen had answered my repeated whining about being left behind. Seated in the open door of the truck, engine running and ready to pull out, he cupped my chin in his hand. Lifting my downcast face to meet his gaze he tenderly kissed my forehead. “Next time,” he quietly said, and then left. But even as he said it we both knew it would never be. Now, here we are at the promised “next time” and I am again left alone. It’s not so much that I mind being alone; I truly enjoy the solitude. But I’d rather be in on the action.
Many of you may not be aware that I have a chronic health condition which, to my great frustration, severely limits my physical activities. It’s just part of my life and I don’t talk about it much. I’ve mostly learned to deal with it and do what I can. My problem is recognizing when to slow down. I’m notorious for trying to do too much and then landing in bed for a few weeks – a useless mess. Stephen is my moderator; he recognizes the signs of breakdown before I do; he knows when I need to rest, with the hopes of heading off a major flare up. And he wisely though gently restricts my activities.
Yet God, in His marvelous way, has actually made it possible for me to travel with the evangelism teams. In a corner of our hill-top mission station are my art studio and print shop where I produce watercolor illustrations for the wordless evangelism books which are so effective in this highly illiterate country. The pages from those books are then enlarged to banner-size to be used in open-air meetings when the scattered villages come together in the central larger village. This makes for an effective conclusion to the days of village-to-village personal work done with the booklets. I often sit at my drawing table with tears trickling down my cheeks, in speechless amazement with what God has so graciously allowed me to do for Him. I never could have dreamed it. And He has made me very content with the not going. If I do my part, others can do theirs, and these remote places can be reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Gima Circuit – just one scattered cluster of remote villages far from the well-traveled road. Tiny forgotten pockets of humanity; souls for whom Christ died. Forgotten by man perhaps, but never by a loving heavenly Father who desires to have restored fellowship. God knows the names of these places. He knows the dear faces, the tired eyes, the fearful hearts held in the bondage of witchcraft mingled with man’s religion. God also knows the flesh weariness of the ones who are willing to trudge the hill trails; willing to sleep where they can and eat what is put before them in order to take the Gospel message to these forgotten ones. And God knows the one who stays behind longing to be among the team going but cannot. Yet, as I tarry at home, working on more illustrations, I pray for the kings of the armies of darkness to flee apace that, “ the light of the glorious gospel of Christ…should shine unto them.” (II Corinthians 4:4) And, as I tarry at home, I too divide the spoil.
Post Script: This little story was originally written in my journal late in the spring of 2014, a few years before my health completely collapsed, necessitating that I permanently return to the States in 2017. As I read back through these journal notes and prepare it to post on my blog, I can see the hand of God preparing my heart for the painful, crushing blow of not being able to return to Sierra Leone. You see, here in Florida, I still have a little corner of a room where I continue to work on illustrations for Stephen and the evangelism teams to use on the dry season circuit. And I still sit with tears coursing down my face, as the wonderment of what God still allows me to do completely takes my breath away. It is in this way, through the books and banners, that my heart still gets to go.