My oldest brother, Rob, lived in Blessing, Texas, when I was a kid. One summer, when we were around twelve, my sister-in-law drove to Arkansas, picked my niece and me up, and took us home with her for the summer.
Oh, it was a grand adventure! I met my nephew for the first time. I spent time with family, and I’m thankful I have those memories.
I mostly had a great time, but some moments weren’t so great.
Even though I didn’t care for everything that happened, I have no choice but to take the good with the bad and tuck those things away in my treasure box of memories.
Isn’t it funny how life works like that? We have access to many amazing pleasures and things that bring us joy, but we also have trials and tribulations. What matters is how we react when (not if) they come our way. Do we realize that we all must face unpleasant, painful, and scary things in this life? Do we understand that we can still have untold joys, even with the painful realities we must sometimes face?
That makes me think of what James wrote to the Christians that faced trials and more hardships than we could even imagine. His purpose was to make the Christians wake up and realize their sinful state. He wanted them to know they had to get past the worldly mindset and focus on what really mattered: God.
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
Today, we must accept the things we face and continue working towards our end goal: Heaven. Even when trials, hardships, financial difficulties, disease, and sickness hit close to home, we must keep going.
Now I wouldn’t go so far as to say that trip brought trials and tribulations, but I would say that some things were painful. Unfortunately for me, I had to take those things and deal with them so I could have the joy of the other things!
What could I be talking about? Let’s go through a few of the things that happened, as I remember them.
The first painful memory includes me and a pack of fire ants. Yeah, I called them a pack. Because those suckers came at me like a pack of wild animals. Go with me back to a sunny day in Blessing, Texas, and picture little Leah deciding to lay on a blanket in the backyard.
HA! Wrong! I wasn’t watching like I should’ve been. My mind must’ve been on getting some sun and relaxing!
Of course, I must wonder about us today. Are we watching as we should be? Or do we go through life just looking to relax?
“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
I one hundred percent did not expect fire ants to light me up that day. I’d never encountered anything but regular ants, so I was shocked.
Pay attention to your soul - don't be shocked on judgment day!
Another not-so-great memory has to do with another type of fire. My skin! Okay, let me explain. We decided we would go to the beach, and like almost everyone back then, my niece and I rode for an hour+ in the back of the truck. In lawn chairs. Yes, we did.
Those fire ants had NOTHING on the sun.
We had our minds on playing in the awesome beach waves and lost sight of almost all else. We didn’t care that our skin sizzled like an egg. We were having FUN!
Not so much when we got home. That. Was. Miserable.
Don’t lose sight of what is the most important part of life. Getting to heaven.
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Those twelve words say it all. If we all set our minds on God, the world would be happier!
The last memory I’ll bring up is one of my all-time favorite memories (okay, I have a bunch, but this ranks in the top 5 of forever). Rob agreed to take us camping, and I had the time of my life!
We swung off ropes into rapid water that my mama would’ve passed out if she’d known. We camped. We ate. We simply enjoyed being alive.
But then my niece and I talked Rob into letting us float down the river on tubes. Alone. Well, not completely alone – we had an extra innertube with an ice chest on it.
We thought we were big dogs! Things went great for a while. Then we heard a loud noise. It was a waterfall. Yes. A waterfall. Not a super tall one, but a waterfall, nonetheless.
We went down it because we had no choice. Our tubes went flying in different directions! Before we made our way back to one another I got sucked under a boulder that jutted out of the water. Thankfully a woman stopped and helped me. Without her, I’d probably still be there trying to escape!
Rob felt so guilty for letting us float the river alone. But honestly, we didn’t give him much choice. At least I know I didn’t because I was determined to do it.
As I compare this to my spiritual life, I realize there are times when I need to slow down and think about consequences before I act. I’d dare say we all have those times!
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”
In spiritual matters, we all need to slow down, think things through, and determine if what we’re involved in will bring glory to God or not. Then, decide with that in mind.
I’m so thankful for the woman who tried to help me get unstuck from the boulder. I wish I could thank her as an adult. Ultimately, I had to work hard to free myself. The water was too strong for her to pull me out, but she coached me and worked with me until I was free!
That makes me think of the noble Bereans when Paul and Silas taught them in the synagogue. The Bereans listened to what Paul and Silas had to say, and then they acted on their own!
“Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
Don’t be too proud to accept a helping hand, but always look to the Bible for your final answer. Not what man says. Strive to be like the Bereans, who heard the Word and then studied it for themselves. They seemed to understand they were responsible for their own salvation. Not the preacher. Not a Bible class teacher. They were!
I don’t think the kind woman would’ve left me there, but I realized I had to listen to what she said and then work to free myself from the boulder. Today, we must work to understand what God expects, and then we must act on it.
My friends, please take time to immerse yourself in God’s Word so you are not shocked on the day of judgment. I was ignorant of fire ants, sunburn, boulders, and waterfalls, but thankfully, it only cost me a few very painful bites and a severe burn.
Don’t let the rapids of life and your ignorance cost you your soul. I have the memories of my youth that I treasure. I promise you don't want your memories to echo throughout eternity.
In Christian Love, Leah Brewer
***This is not a picture of where we were.