Enjoying the Journey
My dad and I had the privilege to be part of training several Iraqi pastors a number of years ago. For over a week we taught a group of men in Ammon, Jordan who were going back to Baghdad to start Baptist churches. It was an exciting work in a needy place.
Near the end of our trip, the Jordanian pastor who had hosted us announced that he wanted to show us a few things before leaving his country. Driving his old Mercedes about 100 mph through the desert, he gave us the quick tour of some of Jordan’s biblical sites. We saw bedouin people living in the same wilderness through which the children of Israel had passed.
It was an adventure to hike into the rock city of Petra. So much history! The book of Obadiah suddenly came alive to me. (Yes, it is also the sight of the Indiana Jones Temple of Doom. Not biblical, but interesting.)
From the top of Mount Nebo we looked across the Jordan River into “the land of promise” just like Moses did. It was sobering to think that we were standing in the same mountain range where Moses lived his last contemplative moments on earth. Here he died and God buried him. Scripture says that no man knows the place of his burial to this day.
As we neared the end of our day we drove to a beautiful body of water. The sun was setting on the sea and it was truly an amazing sight. I put some of the water to my mouth and spit it out just as quickly! It was the most bitter, salty water I had ever tasted.
Our Jordanian host had a good laugh and then he taught me one of the most important lessons I have ever learned. He explained that everything in that huge body of water was dead. But it was not always so.
Just upstream from the shore where we stood the Jordan River flowed into the Dead Sea. Living things flowed in all the time. Nothing ever flowed out.
Then my friend said something I will not soon forget: “Life becomes death when it is kept to itself.”
What a picture of the way most of us live! So much is poured into us and so little flows out of us. God never intended for our lives to be depositories; He designed them to be tributaries – channels of His truth and grace.
Have you been blessed? It is so that you can be a blessing. Have you received God’s comfort? Paul wrote that it is that we may “comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). Has someone taught you God’s Word? “Teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). This is God’s way.
When we keep God’s goodness to ourselves we become “Dead Sea Christians.” We may look beautiful on the surface but down deep we are dying. Life must be passed on…for the good of others and for our own good. This is the lesson of the Dead Sea, a lesson that must be lived.