Saturday February 20
A Pathway to God - Psalm 42:1 (NIV)
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul longs for you.”
I was talking to our pastor’s wife the other day. She was telling me that a member of the church, a First Nations woman, had told her that her father knew Scripture better than most even though he had never read the Bible. She told me she was not sure exactly what this woman meant until I related an interesting encounter I’d had with a First Nations man recently.
For about seven months, I had been working with a man from the Quileute Tribe. This man, possibly the noblest man I’ve ever met, has been tirelessly laying down his life for his community. I was so impressed with the fruit of his journey, that I was moved to speak with him. The concept of dying to one’s self so that life would come to others was so deeply embedded within this man. I became convinced that the Spirit of God was at work preparing his heart for the truth of the Gospel.
So, I met with him and his wife and told him, “In my tribe they say that when we die we become the salmon that feed our children.”
I explained to him that this wasn’t about reincarnation but about dying to self so that life would be given to others. Even as Paul states in 2 Corinthians 4:11-12, “For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus sake, so that life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”
At this point, a light sparked in his eyes, and he spoke these words to me. He said, “You know when I hunt for Elk, I always pray to the Creator to help me and He does. When I take the elk's life, I again pray to the Creator and thank Him for allowing me to take the spirit of this elk to give life for my family. Then I always pour water into the elk's mouth for the finish of his journey.” I was stunned as he spoke these words to me, because, as he related his story, I could hear, in the back of my mind, the Word of the Lord in Psalms 42:1 in a way I had never heard before, “As the deer pants for water, so my soul pants for you, O God.” Sometimes if we listen carefully, something about people’s older traditions provides an opening to share the Gospel!
"Our God has not left Himself without a witness... (Acts 14:17) For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse... (Romans 1:19) I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, 'Here am I, here am I.' (Isaiah 65:1)"
The sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the Word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. (Isaiah 50:4), Lord help me to see where You have prepared lives for Your Gospel to attach itself.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Rev. David Sternbeck - Fairbanks, Alaska