Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Singing (10/31/05)
TITLE: The Support of Strong Arms
By Mary MacKinnon
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On Sunday nights about 50 people crowded onto our L-shaped front porch and when the singing started you could have heard them a mile away through the Brazilian jungle that surrounded us.. Only harmony was missing. Most of them had never sung in a group before and staying on key wasn’t their first priority. Batting out the words was what interested them. Luci, our 17-year old next door neighbor, made up in volume all she lacked in hitting the right notes. Sometimes flat, sometimes sharp, but oblivious to that, she was always deliriously happy as she sang because she had recently decided to turn her life over to Jesus Christ. We felt confident that those listening from heaven forgave the wrong notes because of the dedicated heart. One of her favorite songs was “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” and she memorized every word, just as she did with every song.
Luci and her husband, Jose, our field manager, didn’t have a car and had little change of diversion from the strenuous work in the coffee fields, so one day my husband and I decided to give them a treat. In our area of southwest Brazil, there was one obvious choice of where to go and what to do—visit the spectacular Sete Falls (Seven Falls).
The name of Seven Falls was a misnomer. There were fourteen falls in all, each dramatically different from the others. In the near future, the falls would disappear under water backed up from the Iguassu Dam downstream.
So one hot summer day we piled the couple and their seven-month-old baby into the mission jeep and bumped for two hours over the rutted, dirt road as we headed there.
Under burning sun and fighting countless mosquitoes, we traipsed all morning through the park. and marveled at the beautiful falls, each one different, each with a tremendous force of water but all rushing downstream to join the main channel.
“If a safety engineer were here, he would have a heart attack if he saw all these safety hazards,” my husband commented in all all-too-true observation.
We threaded our way across precariously slung wooden bridges, so narrow only one person could pass at a time. Often yawning gaps caused by missing boards on the bridges caused us to hop to straddle the holes. We clung tightly to the cable strung along the side like a lifeline. One place we had to walk across a six-foot plank that connected the two sides of the trail. Several inches of water gushed over it and down to the chasm below. One misstep or stumble would have thrown us into the boiling maelstrom. As we negotiated our way along, the verse I had been memorizing was a steady comfort, “The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27 (NIV)
Luci carried the baby as we walked the trails, but at each bridge she frowned, then stopped, shook her head, and handed the baby to me. Even though danger was below and around us, Luci trusted the baby to my arms, just as I was trusting the Lord’s support and protection.
Each crossing reminded me of Luci’s favorite song, “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” so applicable now as she also trusted in me and had nothing to fear. As I carried that baby across I depended on those words too, and realized again that we were safe and secure—not just today in this precarious situation, but for always. How I thanked the Lord that his promise is valid forever no matter what the circumstances.
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