On the Plains

Our spiritual walks have many ups and downs. We speak of mountaintop experiences, where we draw especially near to God and His presence is especially manifest to us. We think of the Transfiguration, and the glory and peace of being in His very presence. During such times we feel as if our spiritual batteries are being recharged, and we’re ready to face the valleys of life. We think of those valleys in terms of the “valley of death”, and know that our Lord is with us even there. These are the times of Job, when we find that His presence is especially close during times of trial.

So we see the Lord walking with us on the mountain tops and valleys, and even carrying us from time to time. But also consider the boring, featureless, daily plains of life. Scripture tells of people like Enoch and Noah, who “walked with God”. The sense here is that they walked with God as a daily experience, not just during special moments. That for them, God was continuous presence, someone at their sides, someone to talk to about life’s everyday events, someone to be a real companion.

Indeed, Scripture gives such a picture of Jesus. His first miracle was a simple provision at a wedding party. Almost behind the scenes, a simple act of help to those close to Him. This was just the first of several times He chose to act this way. How well we remember the miraculous provision of food to thousands upon thousands. But consider this passage:

When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?” He *said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt. “However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.” (Matt. 17:24-27 NASB)

Here we see Jesus miraculously provide the small amount needed for the temple tax. Taking this opportunity, the Lord teaches about taxes, Kingdom citizenship, and having a good witness. But notice the simple domestic setting and simple provision of day-to-day needs.

When we think of Jesus after the resurrection, we may remember His profound teachings to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, miraculous appearances proving His resurrection, the deeply emotional restoration of Peter, or His spectacular ascension. But consider the simple act of cooking breakfast: Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” (John 21:12a) Here we see the risen Christ make a fire and prepare a simple meal for His friends.

In fact, if we read between the lines throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus often just being with the people around Him. In their homes, as they walk, etc. His was a ministry of daily life with them, not just appearing to perform miracles, then disappearing until the next major crisis. Not just speaking to throngs and then withdrawing completely, but spending time in small groups, even with individuals.

Jesus stayed with His disciples in their homes, helped out at their parties, cooked breakfast for them, provided for financial needs. In every sense, He was there with them and walked with them daily. This should be our experience with Him today. He is still with us to provide, guide, teach, and strengthen.

The fact that our Lord is with us daily, in every circumstance, is a great comfort to us. We know that He will provide for us, whatever the need. We are never alone, no matter how few people are around us. We have His wisdom and strength to face any situation. How blessed we are to have a Lord who is so personal!

Perhaps this is a challenge as well. If Jesus is truly with each of us, walking with us daily, how clearly do we see and hear Him? Think back through your last few days. Do you recognize Him at work in your life? Can you point to things He taught you, provisions He made for you, ways He strengthened and guided you? We may not see Him walking with us physically, but with eyes of faith we can see Him nonetheless.

Open your eyes of faith to the presence and activity of our Lord each moment. May we be so accustomed to Him at our side that His presence in valleys and on mountains is of a familiar friend.

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