Trevor and his group had finished their preliminary study of the primitive tribe. They had climbed back into the metal bottom boat for their trip back to civilization. Trevor felt good, almost like the snake bite had never happened, but they had been on the river for several hours and he didn’t recognize any of the expected landmarks. They had passed only one “Y” in the stream channel-one opportunity to go in another direction. They had chosen the logical path-the wider river that would surely lead down stream. However, when several hours had passed and they had seen none of the expected landmarks, he was beginning to wonder if his snake bite had affected his sense of direction.
Suddenly one of the ladies in the group screamed. She had inadvertently allowed her hand to skim along in the water. A piranha had grazed her finger with its teeth. Looking over the side of the boat, they saw a school of piranha jumping out of the water. “Keep everything away from the sides of the boat,” admonished Trevor.
A little farther on the river narrowed unexpectedly. “Shouldn’t the channel be getting wider since we are going downstream?” thought Trevor. His mind was filled with thoughts of possible bad outcomes of this adventure.
About half an hour later, someone remarked, “It’s getting dark!” Trevor had forgotten that near the equator the sun goes down quickly with no lingering twilight or dusk. What else had he forgotten? He began to question his leadership ability. Should they tie up at the bank? he wondered as he guided the boat toward the shore.
As they approached the shore, a cacophony of sounds assaulted their ears: the howling of monkeys, the chirping, buzzing, and biting of insects, and other sounds-unidentifiable but, never-the-less, frightening. Suddenly, a roaring tiger lunged into view. Thinking quickly, the guys cut the line tying the boat to a rock, and paddled furiously to move into the middle of the channel. They paused for a few minutes to decide upon their next course of action, and as they did so, the piranha began chewing on the bottom of the boat. They had to keep moving, but how? Now the jungle had closed in upon them and the darkness was intense, as intense as were the jungle sounds.
At first sleep was impossible, but, near morning, exhaustion had taken its toll. Suddenly a bump on the bottom of the boat jarred them all awake. The boat lunged to the left and nearly capsized. The team leaned in the opposite direction and managed to stabilize the boat, but it was obvious that they had better leave this place.
They had gone a few miles when they came upon a native camp. As they drew nearer they realized that it was the camp that they had left the previous day. They had traveled in a circle! Several of the natives saw them and pointed at them. One of the young men ran to the shore and pointed ahead. He continued to run along the shore, spear in hand, for several miles guiding them past several places where the river merged with other streams before returning to his tribe.
Now they were on their own once again. “Let’s let God guide us,” shouted one of the team members. “Sure, how’s He going to do it?” asked another. “Will He make the water green on the channel we are supposed to take, while the wrong channels all turn red? You get it. Red for stop, green for go. Right?” They all laughed. “How about if one of those giant anacondas jumps out of the water and points the way downstream?” suggested another.
“God could do those things, but I need to know how He will guide us in this case,” wondered Trevor aloud. Two scriptures popped into Trevor’s mind: After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. … Then a voice said to him… (I Kings 19:11-13 NIV) Trevor needed to get his mind quiet to hear the Lord’s gentle whisper within his own spirit.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your [spiritual] ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk [travel] in it.” (Isaiah 30:21 NIV) The gentle voice of the Lord would direct their way once Trevor quieted his mind to “hear” it. At the next intersection, Trevor listened carefully in his spirit and followed the Lord’s direction. He did the same at the next and at the next intersection.
A few hours later the course of the river widened. They rounded a bend and came upon one river barge, and then another and another! They had returned to civilization! The quiet voice of the Lord in their spirits had been their guide.