"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."
Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."
Psalm 91:1-4 (NIV)
I kept hearing a voice calling to me, but I couldn't make out who it was that was saying my name repeatedly. I turned over in my dream and was instantly awake. I realized that the voice in the darkness was my roommate's terrified whisper.
I groggily answered her with a sleepy, "What's the matter, Cindy?"
"Don't you hear that "ping" sound on the [window] screen? What do you think is making that noise?" she asked, the terror rising in her voice with every word.
I honestly had been sleeping like a log. I had to actually hold my breath for a few seconds so that I could try to hear what she was talking about. Cindy and her family had lived in the Congo for less than six months compared to my veteran length of two and a half years. Our newness to being missionary kids bonded us like glue since we were surrounded by classmates that had been born in the country or had moved to Congo as toddlers. I had long since learned to drown out even the sound of the rats that raced across my plywood ceiling at night as I lay in bed at night at our mission station. Cindy, in her newness to all things Congo, had not yet acquired that ability. Almost everything sent my darling friend into a panic, especially if that everything had to do with creepy crawlies in the dark.
The generator had gone off hours before. We had no way of finding out what was making the "ping" sound unless one of us was brave enough to turn on the flashlight every student at Ubangi Academy was required to have at their bedside table. I decided to take matters into my own hands. I would turn on the flashlight's beam.
Cindy and I, because it was our first year at UBAC, were ignorant about the notorious position of our bedroom. Unbeknownst to us, we had been selected to have the dreaded room directly across the hallway from the bathroom. If anything scurried in from a drain or the door to the outside, more than likely it would run right into our room. We were completely naive to this well-known fact up until this night.
I directed the flashlight's beam on the wall farthest away from our beds. Our small room had a dresser and connecting closet directly to the left of the door. The shaft of light revealed something even I had never seen. It appeared from my vantage point that both the dresser and the closet were moving. I knew that couldn't be. When I looked again, I realized that what was moving were...
HUNDREDS OF COCKROACHES!!!
I quickly shined the flashlight on the screen window directly above our heads where we had heard the "ping" sound. The cockroaches were jumping from the bedside table onto the screen, thus creating the "ping" noise! Cindy and I both opened our mouths and let out the most blood-curdling scream. I thought she was going to faint. I was enjoying the chance to wake up our entire hall of sleeping girls. I decided, even though I was not really scared, to sure act like I was!
Our screams had the desired effect. The big girls (those in high school) came flying into our room with all the concern of big sisters trying to protect us. The little girls (those younger than sixth grade) came running in, too. And our poor dorm parents, Aunt Ruth Ann and her husband, Uncle Bob, were in our room seconds later. No one could deny that we deserved everyone's utmost sympathy. It would be cruel and unusual punishment to leave us in that cockroach-infested room. After hugs and reassurances and general coddling all around, we were given the unbelievable privilege of pulling our mattresses off our bed frames and sleeping in the big girls' apartment at the end of the hall. Uncle Bob assured us that the small hole believed to be the entrance and exit of our "friends" would be covered over with drywall the next morning.
I could hardly keep myself from laughing in delight over the night's events. Cindy and I were treated like princesses that night. We had the undying sympathy of all our girlfriends for having to endure a whole eight-week term living in the dreaded room across from the bathroom. Everyone thought I was as afraid as Cindy was. I wasn't. I was laughing at fear.
And that is what Jesus does for you and me. Under the shadow of His wing, we can laugh at what should make us scared out of our minds. When we choose to believe that He is there with us, the deadly pestilence and the fowler's snare cannot harm us. If we have made Him our refuge, our hiding place, we will hear those songs of deliverance that He sings over us. We will understand that we are His beloved one whom He longs to quiet with His lavish love.
"The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)
Jesus, thank You that You are my refuge, my ever-present help in trouble. Your presence allows me to laugh at the days to come and to have no fear of bad news (Psalm 112). You are mighty to save me. You take great delight in me, not because of anything I have done, but because it is Your good pleasure to do so. You have the ability to quiet this terrified heart of mine with Your love. Be still my soul...listen to the One who is rejoicing over you with singing!