My first thirty-nine years of life were spent in the Midwest. While there is variation between the flat cornfields of Iowa and the flat plans of North Dakota, to an outsider, they might look identically green. Indiana has a few more trees, Wisconsin a really big river (the Mississippi), and North Dakota has, well, it has giant mosquitos and really, really cold winters. Just thinking of it might cause one to wish for a 120* day in Phoenix. Our dream as newlyweds was to settle in a rural Iowa or Indiana town and do ministry and life together for the next forty years on a rural acreage, where our family could grow and spread out.
Life has not turned out this way. We find ourself living in one the nation’s biggest, fastest, and most unchurched cities. The reality is, whether living in the quiet solitude of the midwest or the unconventional beauty of the West’s vistas and canyons, all creation has a beauty that reflects its creator. Every place, when examined, can be appreciated for unique features that cause one to appreciate its splendor. After being away from the midwest for a couple of years, the quiet pace and pastoral setting was relaxing and calming. It occurred to me as much as I enjoyed sitting by the cornfield, watching orioles land and eat grape jelly from a bird feeder, these simple pleasures are not enough to sustain internal joy and provide lasting satisfaction, that can only be found in relationship with Jesus Christ.
Among Jesus’ most controversial statements was His invitation to eat His flesh and drink his blood, found in John 6. He compared the heavenly bread sent from God, manna, that Israel ate in the wilderness to avoid starvation to feeding on Jesus. The phrase eating his flesh and drinking his blood was synonymous with belief and soul-satisfying faith. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” Jesus frequently conveyed that faith in Him would result in eternal satisfaction that cannot be met by any other means.
No location, occupation, spouse, child, entertainment, or sight-seeing trip can provide you internal satisfaction. To borrow a well-worn but appropriate phrase, when we through eyes of faith see and savor Jesus Christ, our inner man is renewed, our eyes are opened to the beauty of each moment that our sovereign Lord has mercifully granted us and even in adversity we can find lasting unwavering joy. Will you join me this summer in the desert seeking the cool, satisfying, refreshing food that flows out of not a place or an activity but a real relationship with God Himself?