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Quality Life, Quality Pizza

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During my tenure as Youth Pastor/Director in Canada I began an annual summer canoe trip with the teenagers called the ‘Radical Fanatical Sabbatical’. Each year I took teens between 15-18 years old on week-long trips through lakes and rivers. I showed them the great outdoors while giving them various skills like camping, fishing, navigation, weather and on many occasions, survival skills!

I think every year we had a fresh round of circumstances face us. We faced exhaustion, frustration, rough waters, lack of sleep, lack of food, lack of river, and even once there was too much river (flooding). We lost our canoes once, and once lost our food. We’ve been surrounded by coyotes and bears, battled high winds, heavy hail and ‘gully-washer’ style rains. Yet in the midst of it all, I can truly say that our lives were changed for the better. If anything, we definitely have some great memories and stories to tell for years to come!

One story in particular is about the trip where we ‘lost’ our food. We had arrived at our drop off spot by a series of lakes in Northern Saskatchewan. We were in the middle of nowhere, 200 miles north of any civilization. One of our drivers, after unloading the canoe trailer, accidentally backed over our entire food supply and ground the food into the dirt and gravel. I can still remember the feeling of watching our 5 days of sustenance disappear in just a moment. 

The only items not buried from the tire treads was the rice, oil, flour and peanut butter. Which doesn’t really qualify as food when you have over 20 teenagers to feed! So needless to say we spent the next 5 days eating fried lake trout with a heck of a lot of rice along with homemade bannock & peanut butter.

On the day we left the lake to head home, I treated the teens to lunch at the first Pizza Hut we could find. When we arrived, we were the sorriest, dirtiest, hungriest and thirstiest bunch of young people that I’m sure they had ever seen. Within minutes the staff began bringing out our pizzas and drinks, along with plates and silverware. We didn’t care about plates – heck we didn’t even think about etiquette – not after spending 5 days in the bush! I remember dropping my pizza slice on the floor and without thinking I quickly picked up not only the pizza but also the fallen pepperoni’s and little pieces of sausage. I neatly put them back on my pizza and then put it all in my mouth. It was when the people sitting next to us looked at me in total disgust that I realized what I did. What could I say? Fried fish and peanut butter bannock can only do so much for a person. I don’t recall how many pizzas the staff ended up bringing us, but I do recall our Coke refills turning into about a dozen or so pitchers! In the end it made for some great memories, and taught me something about hunger and thirst.

In Matthew 5:6 Jesus made this statement:
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Hunger and thirst are some of the basic needs in humanity that must be met. We have to eat, and we have to drink. Here again this is just one of the things I love about Jesus. His ability to teach the basics. Just like we need food and water, or pizza and Coke, we need Him. This righteousness that Jesus spoke to the people of was not something that could be self-earned or self-acquired no matter how much they sought after it. No, it was a righteousness from God. Jesus wasn’t telling the people to do their best to do right, see right, walk right or live right. He was telling mankind to make the One who is Righteousness their basic need – and in so doing, they would be filled. Filled with what? Righteousness.

In essence, if we would allow Jesus to become our basic need then the result would be His righteousness filling us.

We would begin to live right, walk right, talk right and do right. I think that’s pretty amazing. He wants to be our basic need. The sad part is I have met so many Christians who have read this verse and thought, “I must hunger and thirst more in order to be filled more”. Now, I do think that anyone who is making progress towards knowing God more should be commended. But with this verse I’m afraid that all too often Christians see it and think entirely of their works. To them this reads, “If you want more of God you have to do more”. To which I ask, ‘if it really is possible for a person to be immensely hungry and thirsty for God every day then why isn’t that person being filled?’
If I went through life thirsting for every drink and starving for every meal, every day, then either I’m not eating or drinking enough at the table or I must be incredibly dehydrated and overweight! Not quite the picture Jesus was trying to portray. No, Jesus wasn’t addressing man’s works. He was addressing man’s basic need – hunger and thirst. God wants to be our basic need. Just like we need food and water, we need Him at the basic every day level. 

What are your basic needs today? That’s where He is at. He wants ‘in’ on your life. If you let Him in, He responds by filling you with a quality of life you couldn’t find any other place.

Time to grab a pizza.
Pastor Shian

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