On my remote job I spend a lot of hours in my Prado. I am so thankful that the new land cruisers are designed for comfort. A suspension that makes the ribbed and rocky roads smooth out, a driver’s seat that feels like a cloud. Not to mention a USB port for my iPod and a key-less system that starts the car with a push of a button and unlocks the door at my touch. No I’m not writing an ad for Prado … just telling you why I’m thankful for the grace of God that put me in a job with a 4-wheel drive that is a luxury and a blessing for the hours I spend in it.
Packed with my laptop, mini printer, both operable without electricity, cases of files on the communities I’m going to, a cooler that runs off the system and one of the two batteries for my lunch and cold water, my satellite phone, two spare tires and a tool for tire inflation that runs off the car battery, it is my mobile office.
I have my routine when I start out in the morning. I play the praise and worship music, joining in of course because it is just me and the Prado. Then I turn off the music for a while and I talk to God. It is more talking than praying because I feel His presence and it is almost like having a friend sitting there with me in the car. I learned years ago with my two best friends that I could work out a lot of problems and issues by just talking from the heart to them. So now that is what I do with God as I travel the miles of bush in my job.
On Fridays when I make the 3 hour drive to Alice Springs and my husband and dog Sari I have long discussions with God. I talk about things that happened during the week, plead with God for my husband’s health and for answers about what to do with Sari. My husband is not well and the doctors aren’t sure what is wrong or what to do. My dog Sari is a wild child who is way too smart for her own good and mine. She needs to be with me on my journey but I don’t have a yard for her where I live in the community… yet.
This last week has brought up new degrees of pain in my back so that was our topic for most of the hours on the road. I had gotten to the community Friday morning, where a total of 12 houses had been refurbished. Six were completed a couple of weeks ago and six more were nearly finished. I was there to meet with the contractors and inspectors for the handover and to do my own inspections and photos.
When I got out of the car the spasms started. I tried very hard to look normal while the muscles down the right side of my lower back and buttocks and into my leg to my knee were twisting and bunching up with pain that felt like hot knives. I talked to the inspectors with teeth nearly clenched and got back in my car as quickly as possible nearly out of breath from the severe pain.
I went to one of the houses and started my inspection. The pain didn’t stop but at least there was nobody around to see me buckling over with the pain and moaning out loud, begging God to help me. I had taken a folding camp seat to sit on because no way could I stand upright. Suddenly I thought of the aspirins in the car, like American Tylenol only here they are Panadol. They hadn’t worked in the past so I rarely took them but I felt I had to do something if I was to get through the day. I took two and went back in the house and sat with my clipboard and list, checking off what I could see from there. Then I moved the seat from room to room, moaning and hoping nobody would come along.
Gradually the pain let up and the spasms stopped. Within 30 minutes I was free of the worst of the pain and able to breathe easier. The pain was still there but now bearable. I got through the rest of the day and headed for home at 2:30. I stopped by the roadhouse to fill the car with diesel and have a burger. They make the best burgers, using beef raised right there on the station (ranch) that the roadhouse is part of. Nothing artificial, no hormones or anything unnatural and taste like you can get no place else.
I relaxed and read a few pages in one of the stories in my Kindle and felt very blessed. When I went to the car I felt a small wave of joy and right out loud to no one in particular I said, “Life is good.” I hadn’t felt that joy for a long time.
So heading for the last two hours of the trip I started talking to God about my back pain. I talked about what I feel when the pain becomes almost unbearable. Into my mind comes the same words every time; “I can’t keep working with this pain, I just can’t do it, I will have to quit my job.” And then a counter word comes along, “No, I can’t quit this job. God has called me to work with these Aboriginal people. God loves them and wants someone to show His love to them and that is me so I can’t quit. I must go on no matter what pain I feel. “
Then I talked to him about the specifics of the pain. It hurts so bad that sometimes it makes me sick but it always lets up in time at some point and I’m able to go on. Some days when I get to the community and get out of the car it hurts but as soon as I start working with the people the pain goes. It stays gone all day and when I go home it starts up again but then I can sit down and use my heat pad and relax and I have gotten through another day.
I thought about Job and all the loss and pain he went through as Satan tried to turn him away from God. But even more I began to think of Paul and his thorn. I knew my back was like his thorn. I have not told anyone at work about my back pain. They have no idea what kind of extreme pain I deal with and they won’t.
But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, 7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. II Corinthians 12:6-10
Even as I discussed these things with God I began to see truths about trials and hard times. I knew just as though He sat in the seat beside me and said it out loud that all the trials and hard times are what we must have to give us real life in Christ. I looked back over the years of pain, loss and sorrow and I knew that they all added up to exactly where I am right now and who I am in Christ. And I rejoiced in them and even in the terrible pain in my back. It comes and goes so I have times of relief and some day He may see fit to remove it. But if not His grace will always be sufficient for me as long as I look to Him.
God is faithful and He will not let me be tempted beyond what I can bear but will provide a way out so that I can endure it. In this case the temptation is to give up, to bow to the pain and turn my back on God’s calling. In so doing I would be saying, You aren’t enough; You can’t provide a way for me to stand the pain.
I thought back over the months of pain I have endured with my back. It has gotten worse and gone from some pain to lots of pain and then spasms sometimes to constant. Nothing I’ve tried has gotten rid of it. But it always lets up just in time. So there again is that “just in time, never too late” thing about God’s timing.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. II Corinthians 4:16-18