Playing with fire


by Linda Manhardt, Major –

I had been looking forward to it for weeks…my first visitor since I arrived in the Philippines! The cadets were away on summer assignment, and I needed to visit one cadet in a remote area, Bagio City. I had the great idea of making the visit into a “working tour” with my guest. We would see some of the sights of the Philippines and spend some time on the beach. When my staff heard of the idea, they all decided to join us on our adventure. They acted as driver, guides, translators and most importantly, family. Even the children came. It was a real “road trip,” Filipino style.

After conducting the staff visit and interview, it was time to move on down the coast for some sightseeing. As we approached the early evening, we began to search for a place to stay for the night. We wanted a resort. We had been staying at the corps, and it was time to be pampered a little.

We found a place to stay. The sign said it was a resort, but it was not a resort in the way that Americans would define one. It was a simple hotel. Its best feature was that it offered portable “nipa huts” on the beach. A nipa hut is a traditional bamboo dwelling usually built on stilts, but these were special and had floors of sand. The sides were open, and they had a thatched roof as well as a typical woven hammock. How perfect! Traditional housing right on the beach!

Fire in paradise
But it was a little more than I had bargained for. While the others went to the nearby town to stock up on provisions (junk food), I stayed to enjoy our rustic little hut. I swayed in the hammock, then took off my sandals and enjoyed our floor of sand…for about 15 seconds.

Before I realized it, there were tiny red ants covering my toes. When they bit me, it was like fire shooting up my feet. I jumped and hopped and swatted them away. I made it onto the sleeping platform, and rubbed the painful bites. Wrong. The more I rubbed, the more the bites itched and burned. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced, and I quickly forgot the lovely quaintness of our accommodation. I waited, unable to leave the bamboo bed until the others arrived back. When I told them of my terrible ordeal, I did not get nearly the sympathy I deserved.

When I woke the next morning, my feet were throbbing, and I had several infections where I had scratched the bites. I was told that with fire ant bites, if you scratch them, even once, they will become infected and very painful.

Oh, it was hard not to touch those bites! I must confess. I was weak. I could not help myself. I rubbed them. My friends laughed and told me that I would live, but I was seriously considering emergency treatment.

Avoiding injury
Sometimes we are left in dangerous situations that we are not even aware of. When the group left me that evening, I had no idea I would become a victim. But in my ignorance and innocence, I became the recipient of an unwarranted attack. This was not my fault. I had no idea about those nasty ants.

And sometimes, although we are warned, we “play with fire.” Even though I was told that if I touch the fire ant bites, even once, they would become inflamed, I still rubbed them. And just as I was warned, they got even worse.

As Christians, we sometimes get into dangerous situations that are not of our choosing. It is important to remove us from those situations as quickly as possible in order to avoid further injury. And then when we are tempted to “irritate our wounds,” the wounds can grow and fester.

Others may hurt us. We may sometimes feel that we are unreasonably attacked. But we must not give into the temptation to irritate our wounds with bitterness, anger or resentment. When we constantly revisit wounds, it hinders our healing.

We have a father who can provide a healing balm for all of the festering wounds of life. It is our job to keep our hands off, and let him do his healing work.

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