Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Stumbling Upon the Sacred

A couple weeks ago, some friends and I went hiking.  We enjoyed some striking views.

Slowing down, we found some fascinating fungi (or whatever it is - don't judge me).
As the border collie of hikers, nipping at my friends' heels to hurry them up of their enjoyment of nature (my usual not slowing down to appreciate the little things...blah blah blah), I was in the lead of the trail.  While my friends marveled, I paused to figure out just where the next trail marker could be.  Then I saw it, just before I was three steps on top of it.
I started doing that thing you do when you want to yell to everyone to shut up and dash immediately to where you are except you can't because that completely would defeat the purpose.  Instead, I did some strange pantomime that somehow my friends understood. While I pointed and gasped (somewhat quietly), we gathered as close as we could and beheld this one or two day old fawn.

The only word any of us could come up with (later, because we were rendered speechless not out of necessity, but out of awe) was "holy."  There was something about this unexpected find that was a treasure beyond the others.  To me, it was the visible breathing of this sleeping creature, vulnerable, and amazingly beautiful.

In the nearly two weeks since this event, I've pondered our collective reaction to this tiny life.  It makes me wonder what it was like to live in ancient Israel, going to the market or the well for bread or water.  It was difficult, every day work to secure food and water.  Then one day some of these people stumble upon this guy (who was described as physically NOT attractive) in the market, or at the well, saying these wondrous things.  Most people kept going, eager to go about their business.  But some paused, hearing a message that was unexpected, life-giving and beautiful.  "I am the bread of life."  "I am Living Water."

In the twenty-first century, those of us in the United States give little thought to our bread and water.  We get upset if we can't find the exact kind of marbled rye we like, and may drive to more than one store to get it.  Our choice of water is ridiculous.  Yet culturally we suffer from discontent beyond reason.  It's not enough to be physically satisfied. We want to be happy and by happy we mean our extremely specific definition of happy.

I'm fortunate enough to have some contacts on social media who live in Uganda.  They message me, ask how I am, pray for me and my needs.  They tell me what they need - and their requests humble mine.  They understand God's provision in a way that I honestly can not.  They are satisfied and even thankful in a way that defies my understanding.  Sometimes I think they live most days in that emotion of wonder and appreciation that my friends and I experienced with that day old fawn, an experience that was unique and rare for us.  Our "western culture" falsely leads us to believe we are the comfortable ones, but in reality, we are blinded by a poverty of spirit.  We don't know what we don't know.

If there is anything I am good at, it is to manufacture discontent and ingratitude.  Frankly, it's embarrassing.  Fortunately, I feel that God is getting through to me on this matter.  The conversation goes something like this, "What is your problem?"  Sure, Jesus is gentle, but He knows I need a clubbing to the head to get through to me, so the blunt question pierces my soul.  "Yeah, I know.  It's not easy to be this hard headed, and mostly hard hearted.  But help me, okay?"

And He does.  And He can help you too.

Not every hike is going to reveal a wonder as powerful as this most recent.  But that doesn't mean I can't be satisfied with every day provision that is beyond reason, and so much more than what I deserve.  It's not just bread, water, and wonder, but forgiveness, redemption and grace.  That's what stirs my soul to overflowing, to a deeper satisfaction than I can find on any shelf in any market place and at any well.

The Living Water awaits to provide refreshment, I just need to jump into it.


  1. Ya know...I don't read every one of your blog posts. I always think that I'll come back and read it later, but something usually gets in the way. And today, for some reason, I clicked the link. And I was sucked in. And I think that maybe God was/is telling me that I need hit upside the head with a club sometimes, too. Thanks for the softer reminder. ;)

  2. Thanks for taking the time to read the post, Angela. It was longer than most! But, it's particularly great to hear that it was applicable and we share that necessary blow to the head!