"You are my hiding place; you shall
preserve me from trouble. You shall
surround me with songs of deliverance"
Bolivia, South America is a long way from here. It seems like it is getting farther and farther as each day passes. The past 3 weeks have been filled with a medley of emotions and feelings. There has been joy and sorrow. There has been expectation and disappointment. There has been sickness and health. There has been healing. And today? Well, today there was abundant protection. God's merciful hand of protection upon my daughter and 2 of her friends.
Their group 12 (plus 5 Bolivians) traveled late last night from Santa Cruz to Cochabamba, which was about the halfway mark to their destination of La Paz. They will be in La Paz about a week building a church. They will be laboring for the Lord and helping to erect a house of worship for the glory of the Lord to settle in and minister to the lives of new christians and those needing salvation. The elevation in La Paz exceeds 12,000 feet and so the group needed to become aclimated to the altitude, so that is why they traveled to Cochabamba for an overnight stay.
When I answered the phone this evening, I heard Melissa's voice and knew something was wrong. The tentative, "Mama?" was filled with trepidation and tears. My heart just fell to the floor as I heard her telling me what had happened to her just a few short hours before. I almost couldn't catch my breath as I stood there listening to the details. I wanted to be at her side immediately, hugging her and checking her out from head to toe to make sure she was unscathed! I must have asked her 100 times if she was okay. It's a long way from here to there when your daughter is sick. It's a REALLY long way from here to there when her life has been threatened.
As they were doing a little sight-seeing and hiking/climbing today, the group got temporarily separated on the way back down the mountain trail and my daughter, Melissa and 2 other girls were held-up by a Bolivian man at knifepoint. One of the girls actually had the knife touch her chest and was pushed to the ground before he stole their backpacks and purses. He had come out of the edge of the trail shouting and waving the knife and he scared the girls half-to-death. They are OK. They are quite shaken up and very unsettled. Melissa had actually seen the guy at the edge of the trail and said for just a minute she felt very fearful and said she immediately prayed and asked God for His protection.
As I sit here and think about it, I am angry at the man who had the audacity to attack my daughter. And steal her purse and her camera and her money and her keys. I am angry that he has stolen her trust and her security. I am angry that her joy has been temporarily replaced with sorrow. I am angry that she now has fear instead of peace.
But then the Lord tapped me on the shoulder and reminded me that HE is our peace. HE is our joy. And HE is our trust. He reminded me that the material things that were stolen, can be replaced. But Melissa and her friends lives could NOT have been replaced. And I realized that our precious Lord once again reached down His loving arms and wrapped them tight around my daughter and granted her life. His mercy was abundantly dispensed upon her today.
And I am humbled beyond words. Astounded at His love and grace. Amazed at His tenderness. In awe of the wonder of who He is.
As I hung up the phone with Melissa, they were about to go to dinner. She said, "Mama, I am afraid to go out there. But I am more afraid to stay here alone. I know I can't live in fear, I have to trust Him."
Yes, Melissa. We indeed have to face our fears. Otherwise they will overwhelm us and threaten to drown us in their uncertainties. God already has our lives planned and He already has our days numbered. He knows what will take place each step of the way. We just have to walk in His will. Walk in His ways. Be surrendered and obedient. And seek His face.
"When You said, 'Seek My face', My heart said to You, 'Your face, LORD, I will seek.'"