One look at this place is all it takes to appreciate where you live right now. It is a picture of Cape Lisburne, a bleak, treeless, radar site located in northwestern Alaska between the Arctic Ocean and the Chuckchi Sea, some 570 miles northwest of Fairbanks. It is now uninhabited except for the few military personnel stationed there. Point Hope is the nearest community, 25 miles to the southwest. The site is accessible only by sea and air. "Summer" laststhree months, as does the appearance of the sun.
I have a friend and neighbor, Sandy, working there as a cook. She makes her living doing temporary assignments all over Alaska, but this one happened during one of our hottest summers on record down where we live in Cook Inlet, near Anchorage. How difficult to keep from thinking about what she was missing! I keep in touch with her by the Internet, and once in awhile we get to chat by phone.
One evening we managed to have a conversation, and she began to tell me about the place. Though so isolated, she actually liked it! ("But I wouldn't want to live here permanently!", she added). Along the beach were beautiful rocks of various colors, and an occasional walrus washed up. Research vessels came by heading into the Artic ice-shelf, and the place was overrun with wildlife...especially grizzly and polar bears, caribou, moose, and thousands of shore birds. It also had a history, and there was even the gravesite of a former missionary! That caught my attention. Think of the hardship in that place! Yet someone had felt the call of God to bring the Gospel there long ago. I went to my laptop and found the picture above; and then it suddenly came to me--God saw this place exactly as we see it now, and did not neglect the people who once lived there!
No place--no person, nothing, escapes His attention. When I read that no sparrow falls that He does not know it, my mind looks about me at my environment, with plenty of trees and beauty. But the birds on Cape Lisburne, the birds on uninhabited islands, the birds flying over the oceans, all of them He sees them too! And for whatever reason people might have once inhabited such a place as Cape Lisburne, God saw their need for His presence, and sent that long-forgotten missionary.
(Mark 6:31) "And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place,and rest awhile, for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat".
I have never liked being alone in strange places; yet God has often caused that to happen and even encouraged it. Through years of experience, I have come to look differently at such times in my life. It is when we purposely, or because of events, are separated from familiar faces, from the comfort of our chosen environment, we have our best chance to experience God's concern and care for us in a powerful and unique way. It is then that we truly can understand His words, "Lo, I will never leave you nor forsake you".
In India one day, I was experiencing a deep loneliness. Surrounded by people of strange languages and customs, I was going through a valley of despair. Yes, I knew God had not abandoned me, but nevertheless I was feeling the weight of failures. As I picked up my Bible to read for awhile, I opened it and my eyes focused on Isaiah 54:11:
"O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones. And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children. In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee."
Do you know, it is possible for us to see one thing about our circumstances and never see what God sees about it? I remember another time when I was feeling low...and in my spirit-man I was thinking, "God, I feel just like the Grand Canyon--run through, gouged, torn apart--". I could visualize that place in the Arizona desert where once tremendous floods of water had eroded away the small streams into giant splits in the earth's crust, leaving behind towering walls and cliffs, barren and foreboding. What a wasteland! Suddenly, the Lord spoke to me. "Mary, it is to such a place that millions come to view it, and to give me glory for its beauty!" What He was saying to me was, "Mary, you only see the circumstances you are in right now. You see the floods and swirling, surging waters of hardship about you, but you have not understood what a glorious masterpiece I am creating out of the chaos of your life. But one day you will rejoice when you can see as I see".
Young Joseph was sold into slavery, leaving behind everything--thrust into a totally different environment among a people of strange customs and language. Surely he cried many tears of loneliness, homesickness and despair. Yet through this experience, he would one day look and see it all so differently. Weeping, he would later tell his brothers, "God meant it for good", For thousands of years, people have read this story and marvel the miraculous plan that was at work all along.
You see, unless you and I have experiences that seem to rip us apart, to tear away from our self-dependence , we cannot possibly come to see them as powerful "testimonies to come"--His goodness and mercy to draw us to Himself and work a masterpiece from the fragments of our broken and contrite hearts.
Corrie Ten Boom quoted this poem beautifully in one of her books:
"My life is but a weaving, between my God and me.
I do not choose the colors, He worketh steadily.
Oftimes he weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper, and I the underside.
Not till the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are so needful in the skillful weaver's hand,
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned".
Stretched across the canvas of a night sky are a trillion stars, each one placed there in its particular place by the hand of a loving Father God. And across the oceans, the seas, the jungles, the mountains, treeless plains, and in the midst of crowded cities, are you and I...never forgotten or abandoned. It is when we turn our thoughts away from ourselves to Him, the Comforter comes.
MARY E. ADAMS