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Highway to Nowhere


Photograph taken in Death Valley by Wesley Shank


Highway to Nowhere

~Matthew 12:43-45


Greetings friends!


Those of you who were here from the start will remember that I promised this blog to be a mix of answering questions about faith and inspiration from faith. This is an inspiration morning.


A number of years ago I was profoundly moved by one of the shortest stories Jesus ever told. When I say short story, I mean masterfully short. Only a master storyteller can craft a plot from beginning to end in only three sentences with a total of 79 words!


But even though Jesus' story is short, its moral has a long reach. So long in-fact, that 2000 years later, we can still be impacted by its truth, moved by its wisdom and changed by its message.


I emphasize we can be because it only has potential to change us. As with any spiritual enlightenment, we can either open the window of our souls to welcome the light or... make a choice to shut out the light. We get to choose.


The story is so short I'll just post it here in its entirety in Jesus' own words.


"When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.


Then he saith, "I will return into my house from whence I came out;" and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.


Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first." ~ Matthew 12:43-45



Of course this story is an analogy. This person's house is symbolic of our soul or we could say, heart and life.


The unclean spirit symbolizes the sin and the powers of darkness and evil that threaten to pull each of us down. These are the sins that Jesus came to save his people from.


The empty, swept-clean house is the pure, sin-free condition of the person's heart after the powers of darkness are cast out.


So, what went wrong? Why, after the glorious victory over the evil one... why after the house was cleaned and emptied of evil and every corner swept and purified... why did the powers of darkness come back stronger than ever before?


​This is not the way stories are supposed to go. This is not happy ever after! This sounds distressing and discouraging and maybe even despairing!


I think there is a powerful message here. It's one that even those who really do sincerely want to live a pure life often miss. At least I know I did for many years.


It seems that this person missed the 'power side' of the work of Jesus. They missed that keeping the heart clean is not a negative act. A pure heart is not a continual act of sweeping. It's not just a more focused and dedicated emptying. It's not even a constant effort to be more dead to sin.


If emptying and sweeping and cleaning and removing is our sole focus, why should we be surprised if our life feels empty? Why should we be surprised if it feels like our heart is a vacuum. An embarrassing vacuum that uncontrollably sucks in all kinds of badness that we are ashamed of and desperately wish we could keep out?


Please do not misunderstand me. Jesus does want us to live holy, pure lives. He does want to save us from our sins. That is why he came. He does want to help us clean up our lives. He does require us to die to our selfishness just like he was willing to die for us.


But... and here is the exciting part!


Power for purity is not in the emptying... it's in the filling! Soul strength is not in the starving... it's in the feeding! Victory is not found in the grave... it springs from the resurrection! Jesus welcomes us not to eternal dying... but to eternal living! ~Romans 6:11


Folks, the power of Christianity is best illustrated by probiotics rather than antibiotic. It is spiritual strength and immunity through positive feeding and seeding and supporting 'good life' rather than trying desperately to poison and kill the 'bad life.'


Isn't that exciting? I think it's powerful!


Lest you think farmer Edwin is getting carried away and stretching the probiotic point... look at these wise words from The Word of God itself: "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." ~Romans 12:21


Overcome evil with good! Yes! Harness the power and life of the good to conquer the emptiness and death of the bad. Jesus empowers us by new birth, new life, new growth, new appetites for abundant life!


So, let's make this practical. How do we live with purpose, intentionally filling our lives and our minds so that we can actually and victoriously "overcome evil with good?"


There are many ways, of course, and I cannot name them all here. But here are just two suggested daily 'spiritual probiotics' that I have personally found helpful for soul strength. I promise you will find them helpful too if you choose to use them.


1. Begin the day with Meditations on God. Your email can wait. The news can wait. Social media can wait. Planning your day can wait. Spend a little time reading God's Word. Spend a little time in prayer. Thank God for the blessings in your life. And yes, even on the worst days there are blessings.


2. Make 'Morning Song' part of your morning inspiration. This is a very rare opportunity for a peak into Mennonite community.


Sim Yoder is a Mennonite bishop from Georgia who Dawn and I know personally. Sim shares a new song every morning for the benefit of any and all who wish to listen, sing along and worship. He calls this mission of his 'Morning Song'


The songs are always songs of God and faith, are often hymns and are always acapella with deeply meaningful, soul-feeding words. The songs are not always professional. They might be sung by a Mennonite family and recorded impromptu at a family gathering... But that is what makes them so authentic. It's what makes them a rare opportunity to listen in. Sometimes you can hear the voices of Dad and Mom and all the ranges of sweet immature voices of the children... just worshiping and praising God together.


Here is a touching sample: Sweet Mother of Mine


Below are three easy ways to enjoy soul strengthening singing every day from 'Morning Song'


~WhatsApp: Simply send a WhatsApp message to Sim at 478-278-4646 asking to be on "Morning Song."


~CloudVeil / Telegram: Use this link to join the Morning Song group: https://t.me/joinchat/zn44N7f6D9dmNWJh


~Or simply email: simyoder55@gmail.com. Put "Morning Song" in the subject line and Sim will understand to put you on the daily song email.


And yes, I did personally check with Brother Sim before I posted this contact info. He assured me with pure southern hospitality that, "Of course all are welcome! I'll just be glad to bless and encourage more lives with song!"


So there you go, folks... Diligently seek God sincerely and live life with fullhearted, committed purpose. It's the only way we can please Him. ~Hebrews 11:6


Plus, empty, aimlessness drifting to nowhere will surely take us somewhere!


Blessings until next time! Your Mennonite Christian friend, Edwin Shank

----------------------------------


Song of the Week


It seems the 'Song of the Week' is a hit. I believe that every one of you who wrote back expressed appreciation for the song! Good! :) So, we'll try to make that a regular feature. As before, I’ll type out the lyrics too because sometimes, depending on the recording, or the clarity of the singers the words can be a little hard to catch. Plus there is improved meditation power while reading the words and listening simultaneously. And let's not forget... it's the message that feeds the soul!


(Click on the title to hear the song. It may take a minute to open.)

Highway to Nowhere Aimlessly traveling, down the highway of life,

Reckless and carefree, just along for the ride.

“Where are you going?” asked a stranger one day.

I said, “Just nowhere.” Then I heard the stranger say,


“Friend, there is no highway to nowhere.

Every road you travel has an end, has an end!

Though you drift along without direction,

There is no road to nowhere, my friend!”

Stung by the challenge, I looked up, saw his face.

Nothing accusing, only kindness and grace.

“Please, can you tell me, where this highway will end?

It’s been so easy, traveling with my careless friends.”


“Friend, there is no highway to nowhere.

Every road you travel has an end, has an end!

Though you drift along without direction,

There is no road to nowhere, my friend!”

Kindly he showed me, where the broad highway led.

Dismal destruction, grimly loomed just ahead.

Shocked at the peril, I cried, “What shall I do?”

Gently he whispered, “Walk the road I made for you.”


“Friend, there is no highway to nowhere.

Every road you travel has an end, has an end!

Though you drift along without direction,

There is no road to nowhere, my friend!”

Rough, steep and tear stained, he revealed Calvary’s Road.

Though uninviting, I saw clearly the goal.

Now by that stranger, with great purpose I stride.

I traded nowhere, for a home in paradise!


“Friend, there is no highway to nowhere.

Every road you travel has an end, has an end!

Though you drift along without direction,

There is no road to nowhere, my friend!”



P.S. Feel free to share our emails in any way you want. Food for the Soul posts are free for all. We do not copyright any of our material nor are we possessive of its use. Freely we have received so freely we give.

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