Last weekend I had the privilege of spending time with Eliudi Issangya, a friend and colleague from Tanzania. After seeing vending machines for automobiles and experiencing next-day delivery from you-know-who, he made the following observation:
“America is the land of milk and honey.”
It’s a phrase from the pages of the Bible, often used to describe the “promised land” that God would provide for the nation of Israel. But Eliudi observed that it’s easy for people who grow up in a place like the US (a land of abundance) to assume this is how everyone lives.
I mean, we know that, but we forget that. Living with so much abundance and opportunity can lull us into a slumber that closes our eyes to the harsh realities of much of the world that struggles with injustice, poverty, and scarce resources. (And yes, I realize that there are those in this country who struggle with the same things.)
That’s what led him to comment that it would be good for more of us to travel internationally, to see some of the rest of the world. It changes a person when they travel. It sharpens our focus. It awakes us from slumber. If you’ve never had the opportunity to visit the
“majority world” (a.k.a. the “two-thirds” world), I would encourage you to put it on your bucket list.
Something else happens in this land of milk and honey. We grow complacent. We think this is it. As C.S. Lewis put it, “we’re too easily pleased.” We think the good life is found here. We believe that a big paycheck, a big house, a big family, and a big nest-egg are the pinnacle of life.
There is a land “flowing with milk and honey,” though. It’s called the kingdom of God (or sometimes the kingdom of heaven). And the amenities and comforts that we look for here pale in comparison. Not because they’re not good, but because they don’t really satisfy. What we long for is what God offers. He offers it in part now, as we experience a relationship with God through Jesus. And he offers it in full when Jesus returns. At that time we will experience God face to face.
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
So as we enter the season of Lent, it might be helpful to set aside a bit of milk and honey in order to see more clearly. Not just to see the world around us, but to see the world that God is ultimately calling us to.
P.S. Thank you to all of you who contributed to our efforts to provide funds for the shipping containers destined for Tanzania. If you’d like more info on the ministry there, check out this website.