“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” Anon
I was re-reading an old book and I came across a bookmark. It was not only pretty but a verse on its face was in Portuguese. It grabbed my heart. There was a private note on the back written to Doris by one of the world’s special ladies and a dear Brazilian friend—Dna. Irene. I had to read it and as I did it took me on a strange adventure that covered more than sixty years.
“Dearest Doris, “Many thanks for those pickled cucumbers. We are sad that you did not come. (I had gone to Brazil leading a work group.) With a few more literary flourishes Dna. Irene finishes with “Thanks for everything; a hug for you along with many nostalgic memories.”
The story is this. Doris sent a few jars of a special cucumber relish along with me in my baggage for Dna. Irene. Only her family or close friends would get a taste of that relish. Doris took a chance they would arrive safely, not spreading their contents all through my suitcases. When I thought of Doris gambling on getting those pickles to Brazil, it threw back the curtains and let in light that went back to when she graduated as a nurse.
Just days after our wedding Doris went with me to seminary in Kentucky. There she got her P.H.T. as they’d say there—Pushing Hubby Through.
The gambling ended up with her going to Brazil with me as a missionary. Think of it–we had no mission setup or friends in Brazil. Her life and future would also touch the life of our four month old daughter Monica. Remember, it is impossible to stay on a street corner in São Paulo as in any of the world’s other great cities.
When Doris and I went to Brazil we had no one to meet us nor could we say “Good Day” in Portuguese. We had no Brazilian money nor had any sure idea of the city where we were going. We were marching off the end of the world. Strange? Yes, but I remember this. The gambling instinct is part of the greatness of every human. What we did seemed so very normal to us back then for taking chances is part of man’s God-given nature. We went to Brazil as missionaries living by faith. It was not foolishness for we trusted in God.
We can refer to faith as gambling but of this I am sure; it is the noble instinct in man that prepares him for great adventures. To limit gambling to buying 649 tickets is to diminish life. We all have the ability for great enterprises and for that we accept the risks. Faith is stepping out into an obscure future but in this case with trust in God.
A writer penned this during WWII. “Some men die by shrapnel, and some go down in flames. But most men perish, inch by inch, who play at little games.” My dad never finished grade school but he understood the gamble he and his family faced every day. So, often in family prayers he would say, “Lord, watch over us for this is an untried day that lies before us.”
The bookmark has taken me on strange trails down multiplied memories. It tells of Doris’ gambling with me, working together in Brazil to face all those difficult circumstances that transfixed our attention from day to day. Wanted—great gamblers—those who are ready to risk something or perhaps everything on the possibility that this world was fashioned by God and works best when we live by His instructions. We gambled our lives on this life and as well as all of eternity–trusting His presence and protection.