I scrambled onto the top of the cab of the jeepnee and chained myself in.
What an exciting day! We had just finished a massive open-air type evangelism meeting where hundreds of people made decisions for Christ. Afterwards we had been invited to eat a lavish meal of lechon (a pit roasted suckling pig), fruit and rice.
We were experiencing a tremendous sense of joy and wonder for all the The Lord had done as well as all of the new and marvelous adventures that we had been enjoying. With all of these things bubbling over in our hearts, we began to load up our jeepnee and make our way to the next set of villages.
Now the jeepnee’s we had been using were like massive jungle eaters. They were specially fitted trucks with “roo bars” near the front to knock down small trees and debris. We had been traveling in and out of the jungles, going from village to village and these trucks, ugly as they were, faithfully carried us through dirt, mud and jungle debris. There were a lot of us on this team and we shoved our sound equipment, luggage and ourselves into every available space. Three of us would take turns sitting on the huge spare tired situates on the top of the cab, securing ourselves from falling with a heavy weighted chain strapped over our legs. It was thrilling.
I scrambled up onto the top of the cab and chained myself in.
Our journey began in the heat of the day. We rumbled along dirt roads and enjoyed discovering all of the exotic tropical scenery. Weird sounding birds squawked above as the leaves and bushes rattled below. As tropical breezes blew gently and the sun began to set in the west, it seemed as if we were in paradise.
As darkness set in, someone handed a small bag of odd looking fruit up to the three of us sitting on the top of the cab. I remember pulling one out and reaching down to ask one of our guides what to do with it. He was a skinny, happy young man and he eagerly peeled one for me. It looked rather like an infected eyeball. But I had learned years ago never to offend anyone when it comes to food and as it came from a plant I thought I would give it a try.
The road was bumpier now, and we were moving at a much slower pace. Because we sat so high up, every now and again a palm tree would brush against us. We could barely seem them in the pale moonlight. That is when it happened. Another one of those, “I am not, never was, nor ever will be prepared for this,” type of moments.
I had just popped another lanzon into my mouth and my hair got caught in a tree branch. The branch gave away but it tore at my hair with its weight and was pulling me off of the top of the truck. I was afraid I was going to fall and the noise of the diesel engine drown my moans for help. I was finally able to grab at my friends arm with one hand and pull myself while reaching with the other hand to try to pull the branch out of my hair.
As I pulled the branch out of my hair with some difficulty and pulled it to my face to have a good look at, I was horrified to find that it was not at all a palm tree branch pulling at my hair and scratching my scalp. There in my hand before my very eyes, I held a large fruit bat, whose wings continued to scratch away for freedom. I think we were equally shocked. I screamed and shook it away as best as I could. Eventually, it finally flew off.
This was my first up close and personal look at a bat, indeed a rather large bat. It had tiny fangs, and the fingers near the joints of the wings seemed incredible fragile and dainty. The actual claws at the end of its wings were long and strong and apparently what had been clawing at my hair. As we all looked up, shaking as we were all girls, we could see the fruit bats swirling above us, looking for an easy meal of lanzones. As soon as we peeled the odd little fruits, we were inviting the bats to a feast.
Needless to say that this brief encounter absolutely ruined the rest of my evening. I spent the rest of the trip searching the skies and praying in fear.
Isn’t that true though for all of us in life? We could be having the time of our lives, seeing the majesty of God in everything around us, miracle after miracle drawing us close to His amazing love, and then some small thing comes and completely ruins it all for us.
We are so easily distracted aren’t we? Well, at least I know I am.
Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.
Song of Solomon 2:15
I often think about that night, and how that little flying fox ruined my beautiful evening full of wonder and filled my heart with fear. I am grateful for the experience because it taught me something I will never forget. Here in this beautiful verse, the bride is asking her Beloved to protect her beautiful garden from the little foxes that have come to destroy it. The garden was their special place of communion together, a place where they shared special moments of solitude and beauty.
We are meant to cultivate the garden of our souls. We cultivate it through nourishing it with the Word of God and prayer. Is your garden flourishing or flailing? Have the little foxes come in a taken what God has lavished upon us freely through the sacrifice of His Son? Let’s stand firm today and not allow anything to distract us or pull us away from that sacred place of fellowship with Him.
Just one final little thought…look back and laugh, it’s okay to laugh. I love looking back over the memories of my life and just breaking out in laughter. There is a great verse about that…
A merry heart does good like a medicine… Proverbs 17:22Stasia is mother to six beautiful children and wife to a dedicated, loving husband. They have served as a family together on the mission field on four continents for nearly 29 years. Stasia’s passion is to share in true colors the grace of God in her life. You can read more about her and the ministry of the Women’s Bible Cafe here. Meet Missionary Mom and Ministry Leader Stasia Nielsen If this article has blessed you in any small way, please consider showing your support by clicking subscribe in the upper right corner.