Often while meditating upon ever-escalating world turmoil my thoughts go back to a message I was privileged to hear from Darlene Deibler Rose years ago. Just before WW2 she and her husband Russell departed for New Guinea where they lived and taught God’s Word to the natives. Shortly thereafter the Japanese invaded the islands and separately imprisoned them. Russell died in captivity. Darlene survived and wrote the book Evidence Not Seen on God’s faithfulness while experiencing unbelievable deprivations and trials in the ensuing years.
When American forces finally rescued Darlene here is what she wrote of the day of her departure…
As the Catalina flying boat taxied near the beach I stood waiting for the dinghy. I began closing the door on this epoch of my life. I turned my face into the winds of the future with something akin to panic.
I remembered arriving in New Guinea on my first wedding anniversary, and now, nearly eight years later, I was going home alone in borrowed clothes. Widowed at twenty-six, with not a thing in the world that I could call my own, except my letters, a drawing, two spoons, and a few trinkets. In my mind’s eye, I saw two lonely crosses on remote hillsides. Under the one lay the remains of my beloved Russell; under the other, the remains of dear Dr. Robert Jaffray. Suddenly I was awash in a sea of great bitterness. “Lord, I will never come back to these islands again. They have robbed me of everything that was most dear to me.” The young men pulled the dinghy onto the beach so that I wouldn’t get my shoes wet; then they shoved off again into the water. “I’ll not look back!” But I heard the sound of running feet and voices calling, Njonja Diebler! Selamat djalan! “A peaceful journey!” Then the voices were raised in song,
God be with you till we meet again!
By His counsels guide, uphold you,
With His sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again!
I had said I wouldn’t look back but I did, and God broke my heart. Those were my friends from the Bible School, united as one in Christ Jesus, singing a farewell to me with tears running down their cheeks, hands waving. My own tears flowed down my cheeks, and all the bitterness was washed away. “Please, Father, forgive me. They are why I’m here. Not just because I was Russell’s wife. I came because as a little girl You called me and I promised You I’d go anywhere, no matter what it cost! Forgive me, Lord!” I looked at my friends, still waving, and whispered, “Precious friends, someday I’ll come home to you!”
In the final chapter of Darlene’s book she continued…
“When the boat docked in Oakland I went to a telephone booth to call my mother. I couldn’t believe what they had done to the telephone. I thought, “How do you work this thing?” A kindly gentleman saw my anguish and put my call through for me. I was shaking like a leaf; this was a big moment and my heart was pounding when I heard my mother’s voice say “Hello”. “Hello Mother.” I couldn’t say another word, I was crying so hard. Mother was so calm and reassuring while filling me in on the family. Every time she paused all I could say was “Uh huh”.
Mother had written me many, many times during the years, but they were all returned “Missing person, no trace of her”. How many times had I gone to the Lord in these past years, in such agony of grief, fear, pain, and loneliness, and all I could say was, “Jesus”. How tenderly He talked to me, counseling and sometimes rebuking, when all I could say was, “Uh huh, dear Lord Jesus.”
Many have asked me how I know it is the Lord speaking to me. What had just happened was the best illustration I know. I hadn’t heard my mother’s voice for over eight years, but when the receiver went up in Oakland and I heard someone say “Hello, Darlene” I knew it was Mother. No one ever spoke my name as she did. So it is, that when I hear deep within the recesses of my spirit someone say, “My child” I know it is my Lord. No one else calls me as He does. That is His promise to all His children in John 10. The sheep hear His voice and He calls His own sheep by name, and leads them out. The sheep follow Him; because they know His voice! “I am the good shepherd; and know my sheep and am known of mine.”
Viewing those eight years from this far side, I marvel at the wisdom and love of our God, Who controls the curtains of the stage on which the drama of our lives is played; His hand draws aside the curtains of events only far enough for us to view one sequence at a time.
Through the intervening years, tempestuous winds of gale force have buffeted me. Waves of tidal proportions have threatened to carry me under or dash me upon the rocks. But knowing now what I did not know those many years ago, I can thank my God for every storm that has wrecked me upon the Rock, Christ Jesus!
Let us ever learn to be truly thankful for every storm that casts us upon Christ Jesus… our peace in every circumstance.