Rite of passage: Me and my gecko
My final week in Panama marks the end of an amazing journey. I wish I could take each of you with me so you could see what great things God has done.
When the summer began, I knew I would be giving up some of life’s creature comforts. Here in the jungle, I spend many nights in a hammock under a thatched roof hut. The only breeze comes when I pull the string tied from my hammock to one of the sticks that form the wall. Getting your hammock to swing ever-so-gently is an art. The secret’s all in the wrist. The hut has no electricity, no running water, no television, radio or even phone service. I’m almost completely stripped of the things I surround myself with every day at home.
When Jesus told us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him, He wasn’t talking about leaving behind modern conveniences. He meant something much deeper. But every so often, God gives me something small that brings me great joy. After I return from the jungle each week, I stay in a little dormitory room that has an air-conditioner—not the Hyatt Regency kind of unit, but the Motel Six kind. It sounds like a jet engine revving up to head down the runway, but it puts out very little air. In fact, if I had to put my hand on a Bible, I couldn’t swear the air is cold. But it’s better than nothing, and I’m grateful.
Not long ago, I was taking a good hot shower to get the jungle grime and smell off my body when I came eye-to-eye with a gecko about six inches long. Back home in Oklahoma, we don’t see these tiny lizards unless we visit a zoo or pet store. I told the little creature “Good Morning,” but I decided he must not speak English because he only blinked his eyes. As I washed my hair, he scooted from one side of the wall to the other as though trying to examine every nuance of what I was doing. I guess a head full of suds would be a strange sight if nobody in your family had any hair.
When I turned around to let the water wash the soap out of the shower, my little friend ran halfway down the wall to watch it all disappear down the drain. By this time, I had let the water get so hot it filled the room with steam. As I moved around, letting the water massage my tired body, I spotted my lizard buddy peering at me through the fog. He was probably trying to figure out what I was doing now.
Sometimes, my little friend didn’t show up for our shower. I guess on those days, he took a bath, but he joined me about half a dozen times.
At this point, many of you are thinking, “Walker, it’s time for you to come home. You’re losing your mind.”
You know what? You may be right. What would cause a man my age (60 on Oct. 7) to spend week upon week for year after year taking students to the mission field and living in all kind of conditions so some might hear the Gospel? Don’t I miss my home?
Yes and no. I miss my wife and family more than I can express, but this world is not my home. On this side of Heaven, I live in a temporary dwelling. I think one of the problems with this generation of young people is their extreme attachment to the things of this world. The world teaches them that the more they have, the better off they are. That’s part of the culture shock students experience when I take them into the jungles and depressed parts of the world. “How can these people be so happy with nothing?” they wonder. Because things don’t bring happiness. They enslave you.
May I tell you about my home? It has many rooms, and its streets are made of gold. Here, there is no more sickness, no more sorrow, no more repair bills, no more income taxes and no more mowing the lawn. The light that illuminates it all comes from Jesus Himself.
I would rather invest in the eternal than the temporal. So as long as the Lord allows me, I’ll keep following Him to disciple and raise up the next generation of missionaries. And when I am no longer able to do it, I pray He’ll allow me to rest . . . at home.
I wonder if my gecko friend will be there. Today, he got too close to the drain, and my last sight of him was his tail as it disappeared among the bubbles.
Walker Moore is president of AweStar Ministries in Tulsa, P.O. Box 470265, Tulsa 74147, email walker@awestar/org. Phone 800/AWESTAR (293-7827.