Not too long ago I found myself in a strange and difficult place – a place where the usual ‘comfort foods’ that bolstered my sense of well-being were gone! The odd thing about stuff we lean on is that we don’t realize how much they prop us up until they’re taken away!
I was prompted to think back to this recent season by a phrase in a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the Ephesian church – “unsearchable riches”. Here’s the full context: ” Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” ‘ Unsearchable’ – that which cannot be traced out..In the original Greek language, the word literally means, ‘past finding out’. In my comfort-less existence at the time, I was in a sense forced to look at what I had in the vacuum left by what I missed. And what I had was the promise of those somewhat elusive, ‘unsearchable riches of Christ.’
In my pain, I realized I ‘d made a fatal mistake – one that I’d been warned about before. In consistently reaching for the tangible comforts of my urban existence, I’d replaced ‘the living’ with ‘the dead’. The prophet Jeremiah speaking as a messenger of God says, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. ” Amazing.
Jesus came promising life…unbounded life..abundant life. The divine message spoken through Jeremiah pointed to the root of my problem. Life can only be received from the living. . You cannot draw life from pleasant ambiences, scenic escapades, movies, get-togethers, community, stimulating conversations, memories, food, clothes, the mirror, sex, the applause of people or achievement – these do not have life -sap flowing through them! So though they invigorate for a while, sooner or later we’ll suck them dry and our straws will start making hollow. empty sounds as we scrape the bottom! This is exactly what had happened to me and in my room with no view, I began to see clearly again.
To make what may seem like a sweeping generalization, I do believe that this is our primary stumbling block- our habitual tendency to replace ‘ the fountain of living water’ -that which is endlessly alive -with that which cannot be! In many ways we’re all a bit like that Samaritan woman that Jesus met at the well, throwing our pitchers into places that cannot bring up ‘living water’ . ‘Living water’, that’s what Jesus promises her -so much like those unsearchable riches that Paul later pointed to. I think that in some ways we were created to be insatiable. But the mistake we make is to look to the wrong sources to quench us. We know from the Biblical account that this Samaritan lady was looking to the promise of romantic love – she had, had five husbands and she was with her sixth lover when she encountered Jesus. She was seeking from a mere human being that endless something that only God, the fountain of living water had the resources to give. And like her, we too tend to look for life in dead places….and by ‘dead’ I mean everything that is supplied by the life of God but is not God (the life-sap source) Himself.
I ‘m far from fully grasping the ‘un-grasppable’! – those riches of Christ that are past finding out! . But this morning’s meditation was a personal reminder to me to keep my straw dipped into the right pitcher!
If you’d like to talk more about this, feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!