April 29, 2014

what I asked to see

As our time in the Paruima jungle was quickly coming to an end, I began praying more and more to see a sloth. Something was drawing me to them, something was pressing me to seek them. 

I had never been overly interested in sloths before moving to the jungle. Yes, they were kind of neat to see in books, a little weird, but I never had a burning desire to see one, much less come in close contact with one. 

But as we counted down the days until we would say goodbye to our jungle home, my desire grew. I couldn’t explain it, I started to feel almost desperate to see one. 

Finally one day, we spotted one way up in the canopy. The highest part of the jungle. It might as well have been a mile away. My first reaction was to grumble. All this praying and all I get is a far away look at it. Quickly though, the Spirit reminded me to thank Jesus. As I thanked Him, and prayed that I would be content with my sloth sighting, my heart let go of my displeasure and truly was thankful. Even if it was far away, I got to see a sloth in the wild! What an experience!

I stopped praying that Jesus would show me a sloth, because He had, as I had asked. I let my heart be content and cheerful, and gave thanks to God.

But God wasn’t quite finished. In fact, God had something much more amazing in store for me, He was just waiting for my heart to be ready for it. 

And ready for it I was. I was on the second-story deck hanging up the laundry I had just washed. I was thinking of nothing other than whatever tune was in my head and keeping one eye on Sam. Something in the yard caught my eye, and in an instant, I knew what it was. 

I screamed for my friend Christine to come fast, told Sam to put his boots on, and grabbed my camera as I went flying out the door. 

I landed on my knees about 3 feet from him. He was just moseying across the yard, and apparently I was in his way. But instead of going around, he decided to just keep going up and over. 

I asked Jesus if I could see a sloth. He put one literally right in my lap. 

I was shaking as I reached out an stroked his back. Then his arm, then his head. He didn’t seem to mind. We took photos and I filmed him walking a bit. In an instant I had a new friend and a new favorite animal. Not because he was cute (he was!) or because he was so awesome to hold and watch (he was!), but because Jesus has used this elusive little animal to teach me to be content and thankful. My heart still surges with delight every time I think of that little guy in my lap. 

A year later, I am again in the interior. Bethany Village this time. 

After a fun day at the lake with the Bethany Medical Missionary College students and staff, we were in the boat heading back to the school. I was scanning the exposed banks (low tide) for a kaman (small crocodile). I said to Todd, “What I’d really like to see is something awesome like a sloth swimming in the river.” 

A sloth swimming in the water would have been awesome, but once again God had something way better in mind. 

My eyes lazily watched the bank as the boat puttered down the river. Then I saw her. I yelled for the boat driver, Brother Calvin, to stop the boat. He maneuvered the boat right over to where the sloth was climbing out of the water on some vines. He got me right up to the sloth when up from her belly peeked the tiny baby she was carrying. 

I again found myself trying to stop shaking with excitement so I could take photos. 

Oh, God is so good! 

I was able to take some beautiful photos and video of this very rare sighting and was reminded once again that God cares so much about my heart! I can’t stop thanking Him! 

Here’s the thing. As silly as it might seem that God might use a sloth to draw me closer to Him, it’s true! God knows us all so well and He knows the desires of our hearts. Does that mean we’ll always get what we want? Of course not. But that means that when we open our hearts to Him, He will know the best way to reach us. And oh! What a wonderful experience it is when our hearts are open to Him! 


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