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What we are made of

By Denae Jones – 

My friend Julie was part of a conservation program many years ago, and they took a trip to Namibia (Africa) to study the animals. It was August, and the desert climate that time of year got to the high 70’s during the day and below freezing at night. The sun would set at around 5:30 pm.
She and another girl on her team met one morning with a larger group to prepare for a day trip to do a field study at a watering hole in the middle of the desert. They brought things like water purification tablets, jackets, peanut butter sandwiches, and cameras. They were supposed to record the different animal species and how many of each they saw. The assignment was easy enough, but between the language barrier and poor planning on the part of the organizers, the logistics of the trip got messed up somewhere along the way.
A handful of conservationists and a couple of Namibian guides climbed into the back of a gated truck and drove for several hours into the desert. They were passing carcasses of different animals, and the guides would say things like, ‘That was from a lion’ or, ‘A leopard has been here.’ About two hours into the drive, they came to the watering hole and the truck stopped. A number was called out for Julie’s team, so she and her friend jumped out and the guide threw them their backpacks. They thought others were jumping out with them, but the truck left. Wait! That was not the plan! They stood in disbelief. Yes, they might be able to photograph baboons, giraffes, elephants and rhinos, but what if snakes, scorpions, lions and other predatory animals found them?
The sun was hot, and the only cover they could find was a small, broken down clubhouse-type shelter about five feet off the ground. It had a huge lizard in it. The sun was setting soon, so they kept watching for the truck to come back for them. It was coming back, right? As it got darker, they realized they had no idea where they were or how to get back. Even if they could find their way back, would they even make it? The decaying carcasses they saw along the way came to mind. They had no way to call for help. No weapons for defense. Only a couple of other people in the whole world even knew where they were or how to find them. It was eerily frightening! As darkness surrounded them, it was clear that the truck had no intention of returning. They made sure the lizard had vacated the tree stand and climbed in for the night, wondering if they would come out of it alive.
It got down to 27 degrees. They could hear animals moving around them, and soon found themselves surrounded by cackling hyenas who were trying to figure out what was in the small shelter. It was only three-sided and wasn’t high enough to provide any real protection, so the hyenas could leap in if they wanted to. Eventually the hyenas scattered, but why? Was there another predator after them? The girls had not slept and were freezing. They had no idea when, or even if, anyone would come back for them, and began to wonder if this was it? After the hyenas, warthogs surrounded the foot of the tree. Where did that lizard go? Probably not far. They rationed their food and water, and began to come up with plans for survival. They talked and prayed.
The night seemed to last forever, but finally there were signs of the sun coming back up. It brought warmth and promise of a new day. It brought hope. Animals could still come, but at least they could see what was out there. Finally, sometime before the sun set again, they saw a cloud of dust on the horizon, and realized a truck was making its way over to them. It all ended well, but it could have very easily gone the other way. They definitely learned what they were made of.
Have you ever been in a situation where you thought you might actually die? I have. Twice. It has a way of making a person really think about how we have spent our time. I’m sure we’ll all die with some regrets because we live in a broken world and we are not perfect people. But if today was our last day, could we say we have spent our lives well? Would we be leaving a good legacy for our family? Have we made enough good memories with them to last them the rest of their lifetime? Have we used our life in a way that will leave the world a better place because of it?
When we have a close call and come through safe and sound on the other side, we find out what we are really made of. We find strength we didn’t know we had. And sometimes, we find out how much we need God. As Corrie ten Boom once said, “You can never learn that Christ is all you need until Christ is all you have.”
May we all live our lives so that God might look at it and say, “Well done!”
Have a blessed week, friends!

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