When you move onto unimproved land, you discover quickly the value of roads. Roads are built above the general lay of the land, usually ditched on the sides. A new neighbor, who has become a good friend, suggested that we have the septic tank man scrape down the fence row behind the house, which left a path several feet above the rest of the land. We did not use it, instead driving across the top of the property on the grass to the front door. The summer rains began shortly after we moved in, followed by a nearby hurricane, and after having another neighbor pull the car out of the mud with his tractor at least three times, we began using the raised fence row as our driveway. That is why to this day, you pull up to the back of the house instead of the front.
Another problem lay just a couple hundred feet off the highway—a low spot you never noticed until it rained four or five inches. Overnight the land around it drained and made a pond between us and the road. There was no way to go around because of the neighbor’s fences, and the low spot was a bowl that could not empty. For a couple of months in August and September, we parked by the highway, waded through the pond, and walked the rest of the half mile to the house.
Sundays were particularly interesting. We all dressed the top half of ourselves, then put on shorts, and carried towels. After walking to the offending body of water, we waded through slowly, careful not to splash mud on the Sunday clothes above our waists, then got into the car, dried off, and finished dressing. When we came home, we reversed the process. Returning from evening services was particularly thrilling, hoping nothing deadly swam by us in the knee deep water and using flashlights to make sure we didn’t step on any snakes as we trudged to the house in the dark, with buzzing mosquitoes for company.
Keith worked for years on that spot. An acquaintance did roofing and often had piles of old gravel that needed to be hauled off. Keith would stop by his work site in the evenings, load gravel into his pickup bed with a shovel he always had, bring it home and unload it before coming back to the house. There must be a good three feet of gravel beneath the dirt there now, for fifty feet along that low spot. Eventually he dug a ditch off to the side all the way to the highway, using nothing but a shovel, a two hundred foot long ditch, in places hip-deep, so the water would drain. Finally, we could count on getting through, regardless how much it rained. The people who have moved in have no idea how much they owe him.
I remember thinking, especially as I struggled to put on pantyhose in the front seat of the car, or as I fearfully followed the bouncing beam of a flashlight through the north Florida woods at night, that I had better not ever hear anyone else’s excuses for not assembling with their brethren.
But I also remember this—not a single time did we even see (or hear) a snake on those scary evenings. Before that, when we could drive through, we saw several, even rattlesnakes and cottonmouths, but nothing on any pedestrian return trip from evening services.
Not a single time did we have to make that half mile walk in the rain. Certainly it had rained beforehand or the pond would not have been there, and often it rained more after we returned home, but we never got wet on our walks. Yes, that was a trying time, but it could have been worse. God knew what we could handle and He expected us to do just that—handle it. In return, He took care of us and never allowed it to be more of a burden than we could overcome.
Too many times we view our troubles from the wrong side and fail to see God’s helping hand. Even when we think otherwise, He is there, guiding us and making things bearable. Sometimes we won’t realize that till long after the trial is over. Remember that the next time a difficulty arises. I guarantee that as long as you are faithful, God is too, and one of these days you will see that as clearly as through a newly cleaned window.
We have had many difficulties since then, but I find myself looking back on what now seems minor compared to our more recent problems. If we had not waded through the water, if we had not followed a flashlight through the woods, could we have made it through what came after? Probably not, and a wise Father knew that. I find myself thinking, God, can I please have another pond to wade through? But the days of puddles are past. Rivers lie ahead, and we know we can get across them now, in part because of a muddy pond twenty-five years ago.
Be free from the love of money, content with such things as you have; for He has said, I will in no way fail you, nor in anyway forsake you. So with good courage we say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what shall man do to me? Heb 13:5,6.