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“Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
John 4:31-38 NRSV
“Thirsting for more . . .”
by Rev. Rick Pittenger
This week I had one of those experiences we all must go through if we’re over 50. Since my maternal grandmother Winnie died of colon cancer when I was a freshman in college, I decided to have one at the age of almost 52. So, even though I’d been through this once before; preparing for my second colonoscopy in five years was not fun. You've all heard the horror stories of the gallons of prep-liquid people have to drink. At least this time the main prep work was primarily water. The other sources of nutrition for my 24-hour fast were chicken or beef broth, Jell-O, tea, and any other clear liquids.
With that in mind I headed to the store to purchase some groceries of the liquid persuasion of course. Talk about suffering; I walked through aisle after aisle of foods I couldn't eat, shelf after shelf of temptation: package after package of carbs, meats, cheeses, eggs, bars, fruits, breads; jars and cans of invitations to lure me down the wrong aisle.
My stomach rumbled and moaned in agony filled with emptiness and fluid—lots and lots of fluid. It is said a person can live up to three minutes without air. If it’s cold outside and you’re not properly clothed you can live up to three hours without clothing/ shelter, three days without water, and up to three weeks without food. I got to thinking; I could never fast for any long period of time. Heck, I had trouble surviving 24 hours.
I did realize one thing. I caught myself time after time finding “hidden” food in my car, my backpack, my pockets, my desk drawers, my desk, my glove compartment… who knows why? I’m a hoarder, it would seem. I got to thinking: I must “snack” a lot throughout any given day. No wonder I’m tipping the scales as high as I do. Fortunately, I caught myself before I consumed any during those 24 hours.
This passage and several other scriptures talk about the “living bread” or “living water” that God will provide. Oh, I've hungered for extras of both throughout my life; of that I’m sure. I’m guessing though, that’s why fasting has been used through the centuries to help persons get in touch with their God. It is the hunger we all have, as I shared with folks last Sunday. The image of the Samaritan woman at the well is a good one. She comes to the well not at the normal time at daybreak to draw water; but rather in the middle of the day. Chances are she “hoped” to find someone there; something there that she thirsted for even more than her physical needs. She found Jesus there, a Jew. She was surprised when he asked her for water and then shared with her that he had living water so that she’d never thirst again.
The one thing about that is where I get into trouble if I think about it too hard. You see, I believe that once we've experienced that living water we aren't always satisfied. Maybe it’s the consumerist society we live in. But I always want a better relationship with God than the one I have. John Wesley spoke about our need for “perfection”… for moving toward it but never fully attaining it.
So, the fact of the matter remains; I’m still thirsting/hungering for that kind of experience, that “Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven”…
May it always be so…
Thirsting for more...