It’s May 14th, almost 6 months since I bumped along in the back seat of this van. These days I’ve been riding along the smooth roads of Southern California. But this week, I have needed to be reminded again…that even in the Valleys, He is with us.
We were sitting in the back seat of the full van, bumping over the roads from Ica back to Lima. My heart was in my throat more times than I could count, passing cars coming straight for us and nearly missing a trucks bumper. We had one close call that morning that left my adrenaline racing…but I consoled myself with the fact that drivers here seem to have a sixth sense on the roads and a hairs breadth is all you need. Never mind the ‘Don’t pass on a solid line around a corner when you can’t see what’s coming rule’…There’s always the rutted shoulder if need be. And the ‘Leave- a-cars-length-in-case-of-sudden-stopping’ must not have been part of their driver’s Ed training.
‘They know what they’re doing’ I thought.
We had left the ‘Efata’ orphanage & school for the deaf early that morning and had been driving for hours along the coast. Sandy, dusty hills surrounded us, and my 8 year old friend Camila and I were singing, practicing ‘O Canada’ in sign language, and passing the time by watching the beautiful sunset splash across the water and soften the dusty hills. We paused in our singing and I posed a question to her. ‘Hey Camelia, why does the light stay even when the sun is already set? ‘
‘Cuz it’s Jesus that has the light! His light never goes off!’ she exclaimed. And she continued, ‘….and his Church is ALWAYS open.’
And she began to sing…’
‘You are the way the Truth and the Light,
Were living by faith and not by sight.”
‘Mira mira’ oh no! Exclamations of horror at a car rolled into the ditch, people stopped on the side of the road, no ambulance or police…and how would they get there in all the traffic anyways?
‘There was a man holding his hand, and trying to get him out’ I heard the little voice of my 8 year old friend Camila . She had seen it too. Oh so sad. And nothing we could do to help.
My heart sank and my stomach rolled. ONE split second was all it would take.
Fear began to grip my heart, and I just wanted to be safely back at the complex, or better still back home where the paramedics were minutes away and people usually followed the respectful cars- length- away-from your bumper, and no-passing-on-a-double-line-around-a-corner sort of rules.
But even there…accidents happen. The truth is, I’m not safe. I’m vulnerable. And sometimes that truth fills me with fear.
I heard a little voice beside me. ‘But even when I walk in the Valley of the shadow of death, I don’t fear, because your rod and staff are with me….’
Even when. In the Valleys, in the Shadows, You are with me.
She couldn’t have known how much I need to hear that. But Someone else did.
‘I thought of that because we were in a valley…’ she said.
Even in the valleys. Even when we can’t see clearly, and we have to walk by faith. Even there…He is with us.
Just like the young mom I saw holding her sleeping baby on the bus ride through Manchay, through the town called ‘Fear’ in Quechua. She held him close, covered warmly in a yellow sleeper and hat…and he slept, oblivious to the chaos of the traffic, the jolting of the bus. The poverty of the hills around him…the unknowns of his future.
His Presence, His Love, loosens the grip of fear on my heart…calling me to Rest. To just let go…and be held.