Illustration: All of us need to be reenergized, rejuvenated, and recharged at times, don’t we? Knowing what provides that soul-regenerating life is key. Near the top of my passions is hiking, often with my German shepherd, Brewster. We take to the hills when the weather smiles. Yesterday was one of those times. The sun was out. The temperature was in the 50s. There was a breeze. The hills beckoned. Many of you probably know the feeling.
There is an irony in hiking. The higher I get in elevation, the lower my stress level gets. I find that I focus more on beauty than on trivia. I’m immersed in the creation around me. Yesterday I saw quail, turkeys, whitetail deer, sparrows, robins, and squirrels. I smelled the pines that limned the ridge. The acorns from oaks popped under the soles of my hiking boots. I did not think about globalism or Coronavirus drama or identity politics or of gas prices going up, up, up, or any of that stuff; I just hiked. And I recharged. I term it my soul food because it replenishes something deep inside.
Scripture: In the New Testament era when Paul was suffering for bearing witness to the truth of Christianity amidst a hostile culture, he endured massive persecution and hardship. He was eventually martyred for his allegiance to Jesus as Lord. Paul knew true suffering. He also knew how crucial it was to be anchored to that which overcomes the world—the truth. It was more than pretty scenery and fleeting feelings of rejuvenation. It was the truth of Christ as Lord. Before he was murdered by the Roman emperor, Paul penned these words:
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’s sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you (2 Cor 4:7-12, ESV).
“The world is too much with us,” the Romantic poet Wordsworth penned. The seemingly immediate, the bombardment of worldliness, the tyranny of the moment, will steal your joy. But for the Christian, he knows the transformative regenerating “soul food,” if you will: the truth that Jesus is Lord above all, and is with him.
Encouragement: Just a few verses after the passage above, Paul writes the following encouragement to his fellow Christian pilgrims on the way:
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Cor 4:16-18, ESV).
Let us enjoy and appreciate the hikes, the kayaking, the trail runs, etc. But may God’s people also recognize that these are gifts from the Giver, the Lord Himself, so that we might recognize that the beauty of creation is to point us to its Maker, the Creator. It is in Him that we are renewed day by day.