June 11, 2021 – Roger W. Lowther
This is the Art, Life, Faith Podcast, and I’m your host Roger Lowther.
Today, I’d like to share a passage with you from Ecclesiastes 11:1–2:
“Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.”
These past few weeks we’ve been talking about the 3/11 disaster here in Japan. Boy is this verse appropriate for that time. You never know what disaster is going to happen on the earth.
More recently, though, the corona virus is another disaster that has struck. Usually, most of my creative energy goes into making music, but this year I haven’t been able to do that. People haven’t been allowed to gather, and the pipe organ just doesn’t work very well over Zoom. So I had to turn my creative energies elsewhere, and so I’ve turned them to writing and to this podcast.
The reason is in verse 1: “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” What the writer is telling us is that you don’t know how God is going to use your efforts. So put your bread, the things that you make, in many places and God will bless that. In my case, before the pandemic, the main ways that we were sharing these stories is our artist gatherings, community groups, testimonies, conferences, etc., basically all in Japanese. But now, there was an opportunity to cast our bread upon the waters by adding books and this podcast to be able to tell more people what God is doing here. And so I hope it’s been an encouragement to you.
Since we’re talking about bread, I’m excited to announce that my next book, written during the pandemic, will be released this fall. It’s called A Taste of Grace and explores the diverse, creative, and beautiful foods of Japan that reveal Christ and his loving work in this world. My hope is that through this book more and more people will see the gospel through the food that they eat every day.
God’s grace is everywhere, and I want to find more ways to show people that in any media I can. Today’s podcast is an excerpt from that book, a short story from my time on the Pacific Crest Trail.
It’s especially timely because my son Aidan, my son Eastin, and my brother-in-law and I will be hiking a bit of the Appalachian Trail this summer to celebrate my son Aidan’s graduation from high school and transition to college.
“I’m sooo hungry!” I said, “I want to eat something!”
“No,” my wife said. “We have to keep going. If we eat now, there won’t be enough for later.”
We were in one of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet, a remote part of the High Sierras in California, and all I could think about was food. This was hunger like I’d never known it before. We still had over 100 miles to the next road, and another 20 miles beyond that until we’d have access to any food at all.
A few steps later, I asked, “What do you want to eat when we get there?”
“Stop talking about food!” she pleaded. “You’re not making this any easier.”
I ignored her. “Me? I’m going to have . . . pizza. A huge sausage pizza. Three huge sausage pizzas!”
We had already hiked 18 miles that day and had at least another 10 miles before we could stop. Twenty-eight miles, challenging anywhere but especially difficult here. Mountain passes were so high we felt the effects of altitude sickness, and we needed to keep ice axes at the ready to prevent from sliding over cliffs of ice and snow. Later in the day, our feet postholed through with every single step, making the going way too slow. Down in the valleys, the rivers raged with snowmelt and every single one needed to be forded. And it was the danger, more than the cold, that made our bodies shake so violently. Mosquitos swarmed and distracted us with their constant buzzing. This was our life day after day—climbing passes, plummeting into valleys, and fording rivers.
This was the Pacific Crest Trail, a route that runs from Mexico to Canada over the mountains of California, Oregon, and Washington. Of our planned six-month journey, we’d already covered two. And we didn’t carry an abundance of food, because it was too heavy. The weight of it dug into our shoulders and backs, but there was never a moment I did not feel the presence of food, or maybe I should say, the lack there of. Never before have I so keenly felt my dependence on it. The hunger made us feel alone and isolated, like nobody cared.
I thought of the Israelites in the wilderness. Our trip was only 6 months. Theirs was 40 years! In the beginning, they cried out for food and God responded. He gave them mana, and he gave them something more. He gave them a promise. He gave them the Bread of the Presence (Exodus 25:30).
Every Sabbath, Israelites placed this Bread of the Presence in the tabernacle by the golden lampstand, representing the light of God’s presence. It was also near the Ark of the Covenant, another sign of God’s presence, which carried some mana. As the Israelites walked through the wilderness wrestling with anxiety and hunger, they realized their dependence on God but also the presence of God.
Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to provide for us and to be with us. Jesus is the Bread of Life, eaten to be in communion with God.
“Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6:56)
We abide in Jesus. Jesus abides in us. Through eating, we experience the presence of God, a presence more certain than the food we carried in our backpacks. He is never far from us. His presence is always with us.
Hiking, I discovered anew the presence of God and my heart was full. But my stomach was still empty . . .
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