Passing on foot through African wildlife terrain is not advised, especially if unarmed. More especially if unarmed and alone – and after dark.
Try as I may, I couldn’t shut my mind to a growing parade of frightful images. . . a Cape Buffalo lifting its’ great head, sniffing the night air to catch my scent. . . a deadly viper lying unseen on the darkened sand before me. More fearful than these I imagined a Leopard. Strong. Ferocious. A chill passed through me “seeing her” – mid-flight in her leap my direction this moment, her great claws and teeth bared.
Though I was walking fast I knew my heart-beats were outpacing my footsteps. This panic must stop. Get control, Jerry.
. . .Call up Scripture.
The thought came strongly yet in calmness – as from a voice inside bearing an authoritative, consoling tone. Pressing my mind to respond, I willed myself past the taunting images and began mentally scrolling phrases, long at home in my memory. I paused at the great hymnal of Scripture – the Psalms.
Yes, I breathed, Psalm 91. It was a favorite. . . and clearly suited to the moment.
Psalm 91. Long anchored in history as a rich piece of literature. I needed Psalm 91. Needed heart messages found there. Crisp, Bold. Assuring. My lips framed familiar words one by one and my mouth found its voice. Keeping up my brisk pace, I called the phrases out toward a starry canopy above.
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. . .
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. . . Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day. . .
I continued my quoting, gaining courage, as if an old, half-asleep conviction were being stirred awake. Even my heartbeat seemed to be moving to a more natural rhythm . . .
A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
. . .thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
By now a boldness had risen from somewhere, surprising me in its force. I sensed a shift in confidence.
Peace seems inadequate a term to describe the near-tangible sense of well-being that followed, settling all about me. A change had come, powerful, real. I was free of fear. Free.
Stronger than ever I voiced the next phrase of the Psalm,
Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
At this I actually smiled, aware that my super-hasty march had slowed. I whispered, Thank you, Lord, You didn’t bring me to Africa to feed me to the big cats, or poison me by a cobra strike. Thank you!
Moments passed quickly. I navigated the river’s long bend – still sweetly calmed – and soon, with near giddiness, I spotted the object I had pursued for such a long time it seemed – a small vehicle of uniquely German design.
The bug sat well out of the riverbed, its’ headlights revealing the murram track ahead. Pointing home.
Because he hath set his love upon me. . He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.
©2017 Jerry Lout