“For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:11 NKJV)
Prior to my arrival in Australia there were two incidents that (looking back) clearly show the protection of God over me. The first occurred while we were still in Tanzania, a few months before our departure. The second en route to Australia.
Living on a Bible College campus meant that there were a lot of adults moving about the property. The female dormitory was closer to our house than the male one, but as a rule, students didn’t come into our house and any visitors to the College would go to Admin first. But every now and then someone would come directly to our house.
On this particular day, a man came to our door looking for my father. I don’t know if he was a student or not, he wasn’t someone I had seen before. I was at home with the housekeeper, her daughter and my brother, and as my father wasn’t there, the man said he’d wait for his return. At some point he came to me and asked if he could use our bathroom. Not realising I shouldn’t let him into the house, I took him to our bathroom. At the door to the bathroom he asked me to go in with him. I refused, saying I didn’t need the bathroom. He insisted, saying he wanted to show me something. Again I said no. He again insisted, saying he wanted to see my underwear. I again said no. Still trying to persuade me, he said he would let me see him naked if I went in with him.
I was scared!!
Even now I can recall the feeling that came over me as he said that. I was completely naive about anything to do with the topic of sexuality (obviously hadn’t had ‘the talk’ yet), but something about his request made me anxious. I wasn’t supposed to see adults naked, so why would he want me to see him?!
I refused again, and he reached out, grabbed my hand, and started pulling me toward the door. At that moment our housekeeper came down the hall and asked him what he was doing inside. He let go of me, turned and quickly left. She reprimanded me for letting him inside, and that was that. He didn’t come back to see my father, and I didn’t see him again.
I didn’t tell anyone about that incident for a long time. But every time I thought of it, I would churn inside. A few days before my 10th birthday I told my father. I don’t know what made me tell him, but we were sitting together, just the two of us, and the story came out. The look on his face and the way he pulled me into his arms and held me is permanently imprinted in my mind. On the morning of my 10th birthday, my father presented me with a small mango tree sapling (we had recently moved from interstate and he’d been working on plans for the garden and bought various fruit trees to plant). He said my gift was to plant the first tree in our new home, and that eventually when the tree was grown and I would sit under its shade and eat its fruit, it would remind me of God’s protection over me. He took a photo of me planting that tree (right in the centre of our front yard), and that photo sat framed on his desk for several years.
Our first stop as we left Tanzania was in Kenya, where we’d be staying a couple of nights before embarking on the longer leg of our journey overseas. Everything was just so incredibly exciting! It was my first time out of the country. My first time in a plane. My first time in a hotel.
The morning after we arrived, I wandered off. I don’t even know how that happened (as in, why I was able to leave my parents so easily), but somehow I found myself down in the hotel car park looking at a shiny red car. It was unlike any car I had ever seen before. It had no top. I was fascinated.
As I was looking at it, two men arrived. One was the owner of the car. He asked me if I’d like to sit in it for a while? Of course I would!! So I hopped in, sitting in the front, on the lap of the second man while the first went behind the wheel.
We sat for a while, as they chatted with me, and I was even allowed to toot the car horn a few times. Then the first man asked if I wanted to go for a ride. Of course I did!!
He had just turned the ignition when I heard yelling. My mother was calling and running across the car park towards us. In a moment things turned frantic…the man whose lap I was on opened the door, pushed me away from him, slammed the door shut and before I knew it, the car had driven off.
It all happened so quickly. There was my mother yelling at me about not getting into stranger’s cars, and my bruised body from the tumble out of the car…I was so overwhelmed that I burst into tears.
I didn’t know that I shouldn’t talk to strange men. Or get into their cars. Oh I was so naive!!
My parents kept a close eye on me the rest of the journey. But I was so shaken by the encounter that I didn’t even consider wandering far from them again.
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There is, even now as I write these accounts, one big question hovering in my mind. What if?!? What if the housekeeper hadn’t arrived when she did? What if my mother hadn’t come running up when she did?
As a parent now myself, it’s frightening to think of the what ifs that could have eventuated. And yes, there’s the possibility that the outcome may not have been anything bad, that in both cases no harm would have come to me…but somehow I doubt that. When I consider how abruptly both situations just stopped where they did with a rescue, I’m convinced that there was a potential danger before me on both occasions, and that both times God intervened.
My upbringing up to that point had not prepared me to deal with, or even discern, the bad in this world. My formative years were spent in a cocoon and I was a product of my environment. While there were ‘real life struggles’ going on in the lives of people around me, I somehow didn’t see or feel these things.
I believed the best of all people. I trusted easily. I was confident. I was secure. I was happy.
Most of these character traits would remain at the core of who I was as I grew up. Even when situations and people would came along to shake me up, challenge me, test me…even as I battled periods of confusion, hurt, anger, depression, hopelessness, even then…the simple, child-like trust that had been part of my formative years remained deeply ingrained.
I do agree (as the ‘experts’ say) that our earliest childhood memories have great significance in forming who we become. That being the case, I’m so very grateful that my earliest memories are ones that made it easier for me to trust God and rest in the assurance that He was with me, and would carry me through whatever difficulty I was going through.