Recently a pilot from another mission agency told us “I Unexpected That” was his catch phrase, because we live in the “Land of the Unexpected” and there are things outside of one’s control that come up, and you just have to deal with them. Personally, we have found that earthquakes, lightening storms, and other things may catch us by surprise, but they do not surprise God. We may live in the “Land of the Unexpected,” but God is completely faithful, so we don’t have to be afraid of whatever may come. (See Psalm 91 if you need some encouragement in that direction.)
One recent Thursday afternoon, everyone was working. The kids were finishing up school. Rick and Anji were in the office working on translation and Bible lessons. Suddenly we were swaying back and forth. When cupboard doors started banging, Rick declared, “Everybody Out!” And we stampeded for the stairs and out our front door. It is a strange feeling to have the floor move under you while going down stairs.
We got outside and away from the house, and we could see and feel the ground rippling. Trees waved their tops. We could hear the water sloshing in our tanks, we could hear things rattling, hear the house creaking. There was absolutely nothing we could do but wait for it to stop. Let’s just say we were all suffering the after effects of an adrenaline rush for a while.
Later we found out that it was a 6.9 earthquake just south of us, less than 30 miles away. We were thankful that God had looked out for us. We had a little clean up to do, but no one was injured. The biggest thing affected, was an overflow pipe from our tank had been pulled off, and now needs fixing.
One even more recent Sunday noon, our family was gathered around the table for lunch. Rain was pouring down, as is usual in a tropical rain burst. When suddenly, there was a flash of light in all directions, and a simultaneous BOOM! I do believe that everyone there shrieked, or at least exclaimed something manly, and then we all looked at each other. That was incredibly close! Anji thought it had hit on one side of the house, Rick thought it hit on the other side. And so we went to assess the situation.
Let’s just say that God’s protecting angels were surrounding us and guarding us in all of our ways.
Lightening had hit a breadfruit tree, less than 100 feet from our house, and followed it down to the ground there. It was near our water system overflow, where girls fill up water containers, so they don’t have to hike so far to get water. One girl had been filling up her container, and had fallen down, but she wasn’t hurt. It was near our electric fence, which a young boy had just stepped over when the lightning struck. But he wasn’t hurt. It was near our radio antenna, our main means of communication with the outside world, but it wasn’t hurt. It was also near the cable for our dog run, but he doesn’t seem to have been affected by it all (i.e. no animals were hurt in this lightning strike). It was near our solar system, which has lots of electrical wires, but only the two charge controllers were dead.
Later in the afternoon after the roof dried off, Rick went up on the roof to inspect the situation. It wasn’t a problem with the solar panels. It wasn’t a problem with the surge control. Meanwhile, Anji went down and checked on the batteries. It wasn’t a problem with the batteries. It wasn’t a problem with the fuses. What we finally figured out, was that it was indeed the charge controllers. (For those of you who don’t own a solar system, this important component helps regulate the amount of energy going into the batteries as they recharge.)
Fortunately NTM has some pretty smart technical guys, and we were able to email back and forth with them. We were able to get one charge controller reset and up and working again. And Rick found an old C-60 somewhere to replace the dead one. God is so good. It only took 3 days! It could have been a lot worse.
The unexpected can happen to anyone at any time. You don’t have to be a missionary on a foreign field in a “Land of the Unexpected” for unexpected things to happen to you. We didn’t expect Rick’s dad to die of a terrible cancer. We didn’t expect Anji’s dad to need heart surgery. We didn’t expect our home church to go through so many changes. We didn’t expect accidents, incidents, and national disasters. We didn’t expect . . . that God would walk with us through all the hard times, even when we didn’t feel like He was there. But we should have. We can testify that:
It is so much better to cling to Him.
He is the source of our strength.
He is our protector.
He is our Rock, our Refuge, our very present help in all troubles.
Isn’t it better when we keep our eyes on Him? When we can get off the rollercoaster of our up and down existence, and focus on Him? He is constant. Unswerving. Eternal. Capable.
Isn’t wonderful that we all serve a trustworthy God? No matter what happens, we know that He is true and true to His word.
Recently we just finished exegeting, translating, and testing chapter 13 of Mark. In that chapter, Jesus tells his disciples that they are going to hear about a lot of unexpected things: wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, and famines, but those are just the birth pains of living in a fallen world, waiting anxiously for its redemption.
However, there is one thing that IS going to come suddenly and we shouldn’t find it unexpected. In fact we are to watch for it and not sleep. That is His quick and sudden return. We, his disciples, are to be living and working and watching for Him to come back. The early church understood the urgency of living that way. What about us? Are we living with that kind of urgency to tell the lost the Good News of the Gospel? Are we living with the urgency to disciple other people to follow Him, to become like Him?
What a shame it would be for Him to return today, and to have us say, “I unexpected that.”
Your coworkers, for assisting the Mouk to reach the Lusi and beyond in PNG
Rick & Anji Zook