“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6
“I love my family…I love my family….I love my family” is what I kept repeating the whole way. It was what I needed to remind myself as to why I was putting my wife and daughter through the hardships of this trip! We were having a once in a lifetime Thanksgiving family gathering in San Diego (on the beach I might add) and the only way my branch of the Gray clan could make it was to DRIVE from Keene, Tx. to San Diego, California!
As we were getting close to the California border, just after Yuma, Arizona, I saw a “last chance gas station” and thought about filling up but decided against it. After all, we were making great progress, and were doing alright on gas (about ¾ of a tank). Surely the “last chance gas” was a clever marketing idea but not really based in reality. On we drove, and drove, and drove! I had no idea that the gas stations that I saw and could pick and choose from could ever become so scarce!
Mile after mile, I noticed as my gas tank got more and more thirsty. As time marched on, my notice became concern and then morphed into panic. I found myself consumed by the search for a gas station. Forget about the beach! If I never saw another grain of sand I would be happy just to make it out of the desert. I could imagine us running out of gas in this dark desolate place with nothing to look forward to but the steep temperature spike as the sun rose in the desert! “Please Lord,” I prayed, “we have to find gas or we will be in serious trouble!”
I did not care anymore about how many miles we were away from the destination. I just knew that we needed gas or there would be serious consequences! When finally, just before sunrise, I found one, I discovered that I had lost my usual pickiness and preference for certain brands of gas over others. It did not matter what the condition or the availability of their restrooms was, ALL I CARED ABOUT WAS THAT THEY HAD GAS! I didn’t even care what the price was! I had to have it! Nothing else would do. I could not be distracted by a souvenir shop or a unique style eatery, just gas. I was focused. Life was real simple for me at that moment. I knew my purpose, my condition was clear and my priorities unmistakably understood. I had but one question for the attendant, “Can I get gas here!?”
What would happen if on the journey of life, we became clearly and painfully aware of our need of the righteousness of Jesus in our lives? We would realize that nothing else matters and no one else would substitute for it. When was the last time we looked at the indicators of our spiritual life and prayed, “Please Lord, we must have your righteousness or we will be in serious trouble!” The truth of the matter is, the journey to the Kingdom of Heaven is a catastrophe in the making without the righteousness of Jesus! Without it, we run out of gas in the dark of a desolate place with the only thing to look forward to being the steep rise in temperature that is sure to come after the dawn of final judgement comes and finds us lacking and far away from our intended destination!
When we see ourselves through these eyes, life gets focused and our priorities become clear. Matters that come down to mere human preference disappear and all we want to know about church is “can the righteousness of Jesus be found in this place?” Maybe the reason we don’t come to this much needed conclusion is because there are so many distractions on the side of the road that we have not taken a serious look at our spiritual gage to realize it is time to fill up. Maybe the issue is that right now, there seem to be so many places I can choose from that have what I need that I cannot see there ever being a time when there will be a true hunger or thirst for God and no place to fill or quench it. The prophet Amos foretells us of a spiritual “last chance gas” situation when he said, “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. (Amos 8:11)
That brings us to an important question. If the situation has the potential to get that dire, how can Jesus say that “BLESSED are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness…”? In those moments in the California desert, I must confess that I felt anything but blessed! The answer is simple and is implied in the rest of the verse: “…for they shall be FILLED”!
The truth of the matter is the hunger and thirst for Christ’s righteousness, like my deep desire for gas is not at all the trouble. The need for gas was a warning that the car sends. The blessing would have come if I had realized my need and proceeded to fill up BEFORE I LEFT YUMA! If I had listened, I would have known that I could encounter the desolate places and been assured to make it safely across with no fear of failure to arrive.
This beatitude is the same. The hunger and thirst is a warning that God sends to His people that it’s time to fill up. Spiritually speaking, the blessing comes in for those who hunger and thirst for Christ and “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.” Isa. 55:6. This implies there will come a point where the Lord who can be found easily now, will be as scarce as gas a few miles past Yuma! Friends, don’t buy into the thought that you are doing ok and have no time to stop. Fill up now and don’t leave Yuma without your blessing!