My Account

Life on the Backside of Nowhere

Thinking of the isolated pastors I worked with in the Amazon jungle, I realized a summary of their stories might go something like this:

Pastor Marcus sat on a shaded rock. Bugs sang a sharp, grating song. Calling birds and hooting monkeys punctuated the cacophony from the trees above. He batted the gnat cloud swarming his face and scanned the stony bank.

The surging river before him churned, spitting its defiance. Clearly he was going no farther today—maybe even for several days if he read the water right. He pushed the muddy stones at his feet and wondered, Wait it out or go back?

Sometimes nature itself seems to oppose God’s plan. MAF file photo.

He thought about Anabelle, one of his parishioners, who could deliver anytime. Her husband, Fidel, was threatening to leave. Said the baby wasn’t his. They’d been squabbling for months, flinging ever more bitter insults and taunts. A few weeks before she confided her fears that Fidel had a girlfriend, if not a mistress. He, their pastor, was supposed to help. He wanted to help. He was trying to help.

He scanned the convoluted torrent again. What if the water suddenly lowered and I could get across to reach them? he asked himself. What could I actually do? He had no idea. But his mentor, Victor, who lived in town, would know. Trouble was, they’d had no contact for three months. Marcus considered walking to town to ask him. He could make it in a week. Maybe. Of course, he’d have to fight this same river.

“Lord?” he asked aloud, looking up. “What am I supposed to do? Do you even know I’m here?” The hot, hard sky didn’t respond. A slow, cold knot grew in his stomach. He shook his head and slowly rose, looked once more at the river. “Does it even matter?” he muttered.

A little airplane at the right place and time can make a big difference. Photo by Jim Manley.

He turned and trudged slowly up the slippery path towards his village. He stopped. An odd sound joined the jungle chorus. Like a faint insect, a steady buzz grew louder above the trees. He smiled despite himself and quickened his pace. Several minutes later, when he finally reached the clearing, he saw the red and white airplane parked at the far end of the airstrip. The pilot was opening the door. Passengers began stepping out. And one of them, the one with the gray hair, limped like Victor. “Thank you for high water, Lord,” he said aloud as he trotted closer.

So what happened the last time you felt lost on the backside of nowhere, certain that not even God himself remembered where you live?

Even when we’re on the backside of nowhere, God remembers where we live. Photo by Jim Manley.


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