I remember the late Dr. Charles Strickland telling of his meeting of an African pastor. As he came upon him, he noticed that the man had no shoes, was dressed in threadbare clothing, and seemed truly undernourished. Feeling pity, he asked what he could do for him, especially as concerns getting him more food. He said the brother looked at him with eyes shining with the joy and light of Christ and said, "Ah, I have food to eat that you don't know about." He was not rebuking the Doctor, but was just quoting the very words of Christ Himself to his disciples when they came to Him just after his meeting with the woman at the well in John 4. While He had been ministering to her, they had gone off in search of something to eat from the local grocery store. Jesus, filled with the Life of the Kingdom, refused their pleas to eat what they had found, simply saying, "I have food you don't know about." Dr. Strickland's story, and Jesus' words pierce my heart, because far too often, most often, I like, the disciples, seek to find my satisfaction, supply, resource and source, in the supply stations of this world, rather than in the Person and Life of Christ. Could that be true of you as well?
I have a pair of devotionals with entries written by missionaries and are based on their experiences in the field. One such entry told of a young African pastor who learned of a village half-a day's journey from his, with a desire that they might have a pastor. Feeling the definite pull of the Holy Spirit upon his heart to be that pastor, he and his family, carrying everything they owned in 3 bags, walked and rode in the back of an old truck to that village. Six months later, the pastor and his family came to the medical center run by the missionaries for needed treatment. They had indeed suffered hardship in the answer to their call, even to the point of being very undernourished, yet, they did not dwell upon the hardships, but their eyes, especially that of the young preacher, shown with joy and light as they told of how the Father was working through their lives to reach many of the villagers with the wonderful news of Jesus Christ. They, like the pastor encountered by Dr. Strickland, had partaken of that unseen and unknown food that was known and seen by Christ, and more, offered through Christ. A "food" based on and flowing out of His Life, and is the true sustainer of life. A food that I think we in the west, so dependent of what we can see, count, and store, know little or nothing of. We feel we cannot go anywhere unless we are able to bring along all of our "stuff" with us. They are our source and resource. Mark Buchanan said that what we call the 3rd world church, lacks physical and material resources of every kind, but is mighty in the power of God, but we in the western church, blessed with resource seemingly beyond counting, are spiritually weak and powerless in comparison.
Whenever I come to the place of whining about my "hardships" and that can be often, He brings to my mind such stories as I've shared, men and women, who, "for the joy set before them," endured the deepest hardships and suffering. I, who so often need to be guaranteed ahead of time that all my needs will be met, who must have resources that will fill a tractor trailer, cannot envision setting off with Him with only that which I could carry. Maybe that was so once, but the goods I have accumulated make that impossible. My dependency on them makes me unable to see or know the bread which Jesus offers. Might it be the same for you?
May it be that we in the west would come to know about, to consume this bread that Christ the King offers. May the "goods" that own us be released that we may be owned by Him alone. May I, we, travel light, needing only His life and presence, and so partaking in His power and might.