This week’s post comes to you from the Central Valley of California, where I have been traveling this week. Now I have seen farms before, but the amount of planted acreage in this place is amazing. Peaches, apricots, grapes, pistachios, almonds and more for mile after mile, growing in fields that are vast and well-watered like the garden of the Lord. It really is a sight to behold.
Beyond the irrigated portions of the valley, however, the landscape is rather barren and dry. The temperature was over one hundred degrees every day while I have been here, and this is not uncommon. It is an entirely different species of plant that grows outside of the farmer’s field.
This brings to mind two illustrations for our spiritual life. First, in order to survive in the harsh environment of this sinful, broken world, people need water. Sin is looking for water from the wrong source. In Jeremiah 2:13 God chastises Israel for this very thing: “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” God is criticizing his own people for rejecting him in favor of an inferior water source. Cisterns held stagnant, sometimes polluted water. And these were cracked cisterns at that. They couldn’t even hold water! Imagine choosing to drink from that upside down garbage can lid in your yard that’s swimming with mosquito larvae, when you could drink from a cold mountain spring instead. Yet that’s what we do whenever we choose sin over God.
The second illustration comes from looking at all those fields planted in endlessly straight rows. These days a farmer can program his or her tractor using gps and auto steer technology, but not that long ago the driver achieved straight rows simply by keeping an eye to a fixed point in the distance. You know where I’m going here: I want auto steer on my lawnmower!
Of course the real point is you will head towards whatever you have your eye on. Part of Hebrews 12 says simply: “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus.” When you keep two eyes fixed on Jesus you will take the straightest path to him. When you keep two eyes fixed on Jesus you will be running in sync with your brothers and sisters in Christ, all better able to serve him. When you keep two eyes fixed on Jesus everything else pales in comparison, and you will get closer to him everyday.
Farming is hard work, and the Christian life is hard, too. By continually drinking living water, and by keeping our eyes on Jesus, we can achieve the goal that God desires for each one of us: eternal life in His presence, enjoying the fruit of his renewed creation!