SAFE IN THE STREAM
By: Mary E. Adams
Recently, a good friend sent me this picture. It was taken during the Montana fires this past summer by a firefighter from Fairbanks, Alaska. It is a frightening scene...as the intense flames devoured the forest. But right in the forefront we see a stream of water and two equally frightened deer. They seem to be looking around them, almost as if to say, "at least we are safe here."
No doubt our two deer had daily worn a path to that little mountain stream to lap its waters...but this time it became more than something to satisfy thirst...it became their salvation.
We all have experienced such circumstances in our own lives...times when we felt encircled with things we found difficult to deal with.....some will panic with fear and run, some will choose to give up. But there are still others who remember...the path to the stream.
In India, I once went to visit a very old couple in their modest home. They were living in Madras, but had originally come from the north. We talked a good while and shared our faith in Jesus over a cup of tea. Then the old man said to me, "can I play you a song?" He then picked up a rusting carpenter's saw and a violin bow. After a few squeaks, he ran the bow across the edge of that old saw and played with such beauty, "Amazing Grace". I almost wept with tears, and I noticed there was moisture in his eyes also... After he finished, he laid the instrument across his knees and began to tell me a story:
My wife and I were among thousands of Indians who were forced to leave our home during the time of partition. After Ghandi's non-violent movement, the British had decided to withdraw from the country as rulers. And there was an instant grab for lands by the Muslims and Hindus. Tens of thousands of peasants had been forced out of their homes and their possessions taken. We were left to walk hundreds of miles to the south, with only what we could carry on our backs.
We had traveled for several days, when we came to a large river. There was no way to get across...no ferry, no bridge. We were stranded. And then we saw a large group of men with swords come swooping down from the hillside...robbers. None of us had weapons. The people began to panic. But my wife and I and many of our friends knelt down at the water's edge and began to call upon the Lord. Suddenly, we heard the cries of the people behind us...but they were not those terrifying screams of a slaughter...they were cries of victory! We arose to see the robbers fleeing...and on the ground were all their swords. God hath faithfully answered our prayers!"
Another Indian man told me his story: "I was not a Christian. I was a Hindu...a high caste Brahmin. A very proud man...my profession was as a newspaper reporter. One day I was on the streets of a large city and I saw a crowd. So I went to investigate. There was a preacher...a Christian...and he was telling the story of Jesus and the Cross. Suddenly, he looked directly at me and said these words, "if you call on Jesus He will save you!" I was mad...he had singled me out! A Brahmin! So I left, disgusted and angry at these Christians. How I wished they would ALL leave India!
But several weeks later, I was crossing a river on a barge, late at night. The only lights were a few kerosene lanterns and the city across the river. Laden with my briefcase and camera, I was standing, waiting for the barge to make it to the shore. The river was swift. Suddenly I tripped, and fell into the swirling water. Immediately the turbulent waves carried me away from the barge. I struggled to stay afloat, but my clothing was wet and dragging me down. There was no hope for me. No one there to help...no chance to do pujis or sacrifices to my gods. I was going to drown.
Just then, I remembered what that Christian preacher had said to me. "If you call on Jesus, He will save you!" I did not have any idea what that really meant...but to me, I was desperate for anything or anyone to help. So I yelled out, 'JESUS! SAVE ME!' Then suddenly, I looked up into the dark sky and saw a large scroll opening in the heavens. Then a large hand came out of it and down to me. It grabbed me by the wrist, and I began to be dragged back to the barge....against the mighty current, until I touched the edge of it with my two hands. The people were astounded to see me, as they helped lift me back to safety. From that time until this...I have followed Jesus" he smiled. At the time he told me this testimony, he had been in the ministry for forty years.
Ironically, both these two stories take place where there are rivers. In Isaiah 35:4 is a wonderful scripture:
"Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert..."
Many people do not live with the knowledge of God's miraculous ways. They do not wear a pathway to the streams...coming again and again and tasting the Waters of Life. But there is our refuge, our assurance that He will make a way...when there seems to be no way. When all around us are fearful scenes which cause our imaginations to speak death, destruction, and defeat....remember the stream in the desert. Hurry to it, for God is there to deliver you!
Having proved it for myself, my two feet are there now. And I never plan to leave.
MARY E. ADAMS