Right now, I remember what Miss Johnson, founder of Bible Study Fellowship, wrote in her autobiography while she suffered from bone cancer. (The book was published in Nov. of 1982 and she died in Dec. of 1984.) She had lived through a lot. A sister who had a nervous breakdown. Health issues even before she went to China as a young missionary. An operation shortly after she got to the mission field that nearly took her life. A second surgery without anesthesia to try to save her from infection. The trials of learning a new language and a new culture. And then the advent of civil war followed by the Japanese invasion and years spent in a concentration camp.
Finally, in middle age, she came to the States where she began a teaching career that would affect hundreds of thousands and lived to experience the joys and trials of growing older while traveling and speaking, praying and teaching.
IN her book she wrote these things:
"Upon arriving in Shanghai, we found our mission directors making plans for future eventualities of war. So severe was the fighting in the city that the C.I.M. set up a second headquarters...Life goes on even in the midst of war. Some parts of nearby Shanghai were safe, and I was able to take advantage of some free time to do some shopping for dresses. Shanghai had a good tailor whose unintentionally humorous advertisement, splashed on his window in big English letters, we all enjoyed:
LADIES HAVE FITS UPSTAIRS." (p. 135)
After WWII took off and she spent almost three years as a prisoner, during which time the prisoners received one gift - a roll of toilet paper which the prisoners promptly termed "The emperor's Gift" - she was repatriated back home. On the voyage back home, the boxes she had which contained all her possessions - those were lost on the way. This was, oddly enough, the straw that broke the camel's back.
She wrote: "My mother had died while I was in China, and also one of my sisters and my closest friend. There had been other painful bereavements. I had been ten years without a furlough, and all I now possessed was in those three lost boxes! I am ashamed to say that I thought to myself, "I have been in China ten years and nearly three years in internment camp. I was unconscious and in sick-bay on the last boat, so could not look after my possessions. Really God, You might have looked after my precious boxes!" ... I was now Eyore! I was sore and bitter, resentful and weary. While everyone else was exclaiming in joy, I was wondering how I would manage when we reached England on November 11! I knew it would be bitterly cold.... I would be a "charity case". This was not how I wanted to return home! I sulked before the Lord....
Early next morning about six a.m., I got up to walk across the wards through the large front door, out across the lovely lawns... and down to the ocean's edge. For almost three years I had not been alone nor been able to pray aloud. I always felt nearest to God in the high mountains or by the sea... How good to be alone, to pour out my heart aloud to God in the midst of His exquisite creation. There was no one to hear except the ocean - and God! As I looked up to my Father, I remembered all His tender lovingkindness to me every day of the internment camp. It had been rugged... Yet God's lovingkindness was in everything... All my years in China I had lived by faith in Him, not knowing how the next need would be fulfilled but knowing the complete faithfulness of God. How could I doubt Him now?" (p. 160-161)
After this time of pouring out her heart to Him, God provided a beautiful winter coat for her in an amazing way and she arrived at home looking like anything but a charity case! In fact a fellow missionary sized up her attire while Miss Johnson was speaking at a meeting and thought, "Hmmmm. .. where did she get a nice coat like that!"
Sometimes life is like a roller coaster and as the cart you are in slowly chugs to the top of this seemingly impossibly high hill, the best thing you can do - really the only thing you can do - is just hold on and go with the flow, trusting in the ride to get you safely to terra firma again. Which means basically you are trusting in the engineers, although you've never seen them, who designed the ride.
We all have times when, after we've done the best we can do, we reach the place where we have to relinquish control and trust in the Engineer of our lives, knowing that one way or the other, He will bring us safely through and that at some point we will be able to look back and say, "He was with me all the way."
I'm not writing this as someone who has mastered this lesson - I still balk at roller coaster rides along with the best of them. I'm writing this because I believe it is true and right and because I need to keep going back to this lesson myself over and over again.
This song has been going through my mind this week but I couldn't find a recording I really liked on You tube. So here are the words.
Be not dismayed whate'er betide,
God will take care of you; beneath his wings of love abide, God will take care of you. Refrain: God will take care of you, through every day, o'er all the way; he will take care of you, God will take care of you. 2. Through days of toil when heart doth fail, God will take care of you; when dangers fierce your path assail, God will take care of you. (Refrain) 3. All you may need he will provide, God will take care of you; nothing you ask will be denied, God will take care of you. (Refrain) 4. No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you; lean, weary one, upon his breast, God will take care of you.(Refrain)