You can’t find milk in the pantry.
You can be thirsty, you can crave milk. You can talk about milk all day long. You can hunt through the cupboards and cabinets, the pantry, the freezer. You can even go to the grocery store to buy some, but if you’re looking for it on the toothpaste isle, chances are it won’t be there.
If you REALLY desire that milk, you have to go to the fridge. You can harp all day long about wanting a glass of ice cold milk, but if you don’t go to the place where it’s kept, you shouldn’t expect to find it.
Some particularly elusive things in the lives of most people–Christians included–are much less tangible than milk; things like peace, contentment, joy, hope, love. Recently, I’ve been reading a book by the Newsboys of the Furler era, published in ’02, called Shine. It’s an incredible read, confirming many things I have already learned and teaching me just as many new things about walking with Christ and being a light to the world around me.
One thing in particular that stood out to me was their segment on joy, which they described as being found “only on the other side of the needle…as we empty ourselves in order to be filled with Christ.” The needle being the one whose eye Jesus said was easier for a camel to pass through than it would be for a rich man to enter heaven.
I’m sure you heard plenty of times that joy isn’t found in material things, but it really goes so much deeper than all of that. The ‘Boys quote C.S. Lewis:
No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find.
Recently a close friend of mine has been going through a great deal of negative circumstances and asking the kinds of questions we all ask when we’re put under emotional pressure.
When will all of this suffering end?
Why do others seem to have it easier than I do?
When will I get the good things that God gives to His children?
One thing I’ve come to find is that peace and joy are never found at the foot of this descending stairwell of curiosity. Neither is it found in the attitude which asks such questions. Been there. Done that. Bought the T-shirt (then burned the too-small, constricting piece of crap).
Milk isn’t found in the pantry. If you try storing it there, it’s just going to spoil. So too will gifts of the Spirit spoil in an environment not conducive to Spirit, an environment such as an unsurrendered heart.
If you’re looking today for spiritual fruits like joy and peace, remember that Jesus didn’t calm the storm before He told Peter to walk on the waves, and neither did Peter demand of Christ the condition of peaceful waters before he stepped out of the boat. Peter simply recognized that His Lord was worth trusting with his life, and then the Lord confirmed that trust by holding out His hand and offering His friend the opportunity to do something no one else ever had before.
Peter might have slipped up a bit once he was out there, but Jesus was still faithful to catch his courageous Peter. Don’t tremble in the boat while the world around you goes crazy. Trust God’s love and power and watch how steady your heart and feet become.