Good Times

The birds are singing. The flowers are blooming. The sap is running through the trees. The rivers are gushing and caterpillars are turning into butterflies. Ahhh, the signs of life that accompany Spring!

(((((record scratch)))))

Right. So it’s not really Spring. In fact, Old Man Winter seems to be just biding his time, choosing for the moment to hang out a mere hour and a half away in Banff. He seems to have had a tire blowout or a burned out radiator after the rough trip from the Western side of the Canadian Rockies or something and has had to camp out there in that quaint little Mountain village that we love to visit for now. But we know he is on his way. The winds are blowing and the snow clouds are hanging just on the edge of the horizon, taunting us with their pending arrival.

But the Spring time I was referring to is the one in my mind. I have been sleeping well for a few weeks now and I feel like a new person. A well rested person. A well person. It’s lovely. Truly lovely. And for all that I learned by God’s grace through the trials of the last couple of months, I wouldn’t wish to go back “there.” I am however experiencing something new in this Spring time of renewed health. The ever present tendency to forget. The tendency to go back to business as usual.

When I was in the throes of whatever it is I was going through, I would gobble up every good day like it was a rare feast. It was, as far as I knew. I never knew when I was going to feel cruddy again. Didn’t know how many days of feeling good I had before the other shoe dropped… and just how many shoes there might be. Was I dealing with a biped, a quadruped or a millipede? I knew it wasn’t a monopod. But that is neither here nor there.

The point I’m getting at is that I learned to savor every good day. I wasted much less time than I had before being sick. When I was down, I was down for the count and was practically worthless in the way of getting things done. So when I was up, I was really up. I cleaned things, planned things, cooked things, exercised, taught things, read God’s word more, helped move antique pianos (um… that wasn’t a good idea. My shoulder was not happy with me) and thanked God aloud for the good day. I began noticing how little time I was spending on the computer among other things. The experiences of feeling awful and unable to contribute I’d had had made me that much more aware of what I should be doing day in and day out. So my suffering had brought my times of non-suffering into focus. They pushed me to be more purposeful and kept me from idleness. And my suffering made me hungrier for God and for His spirit to be in me in everything I did.

Now that I have been feeling well for a few weeks I have noticed something. In this Spring time of wellness I have begun spending more time in less fruitful ways. I have not felt the immediacy of doing good or seeking Christ that I felt during the “winter.” When I was feeling my need of him — feeling my hunger — I craved being near to Him. I desired Him like the bread of life that He is. I feasted on Him and couldn’t get enough. And I wanted to honor Him in my activities.

How easily we can go back to our ways of ignoring, little by little, that gnawing hunger until we almost feel it no more. Until we once again become numb to Him.  Comfortably numb.  How easy it is for us to fill ourselves with the spiritual equivalent to Cracker Jacks. Almost all Fluff and Corn Syrup. With a peanut or two thrown in to make us feel like we are eating something healthy.

“John 6:32   Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34″Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.

35Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.

How easy it is for us to accept substitutes for the Bread of Life. The Israelites grumbled and complained in the wilderness at miracle bread that greeted them at the door of their tents every morning. They whined and blubbered about what they had been sent. They wished to fill their bellies with something more substantial. And we, with clucking tongues, wonder how those darn Israelites could have been so ungrateful! But then came Jesus. The Bread of Life. The one who said, “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.” How often do we, like the masses who followed Jesus, look at Christ and take a little to be polite or because we know it’s good for us or because we had just seen him do something amazing and we like the miracles… but then turn up our noses at our Daily Bread and look at God and say, “Please Sir, Can I have some more?!” doing our best Oliver Twist impersonation.

41At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”

It’s so easy for us to chase after things less filling. Less substantive. Less lasting. They had just eaten miraculously multiplied food.  And they wanted more.  They were likely thinking of how it would be nice to never have to go grocery shopping again if there was really a bread that satisfied forever.

How like them I am. How readily I have gone back to spending more time on fruitless pursuits? How quickly have I all but abandoned my prayer time that had become so necessary for me mere weeks ago? How readily I have opened my mouth wide to things that do not satisfy.  How quickly I grumble about my portion just, like the masses that followed him that day after the feeding of the 5,000 grumbled when they found out that the real Bread was standing before them, just like the Israelites, who had been granted a freedom meal and freedom from lives of want and slavery, grumbled when they were given self-replenishing miracle food in the wilderness.

So my prayers have begun to shift recently as I’ve seen this negative trend in me.  I am asking God to keep me hungering and thirsting after Him that I might always feel as full as I did when I daily felt my need of Him in the valley. This is not to say that I shouldn’t spend any time on the computer or playing games or anything like that.  Just that I need to be delighting myself in Him and the things that please Him and this translates to seeking to honor Him with my schedule.

I’m still thanking Him for the experiences I’ve had that caused me to feel the depth of the pangs of my hunger for Him.  I want to feel those hunger pangs even now, though winter looms outside, in the Spring of my health and to regularly feast on Him so that I am filled to overflowing so that I can hunger and thirst for nothing else.

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