‘Twas the last Sabbath of July 2016. ‘Tis. I can’t believe it! Surely someone is ripping the pages off my calendar… or something. I want to share some thoughts today which might include some repeats. I don’t care if you don’t. If you do, you can just flip back to what you were doing before “INASMUCH” popped up. (And by the way, in case you haven’t already noticed, I don’t read back over what I write/post … and I know I make mistakes [DUH!]… I hope you don’t get annoyed; try to ignore ‘em, OK?)
I’ve been pretty thirsty a few times in my life (besides Fast Sunday), but I almost always had water available. Safe, clean, cool… and I could drink as much as I wanted. I loved drinking from the hose out in the yard, and I loved drinking water from springs whenever I went hiking. I used to have what I called “The King’s Drink” (I have NO IDEA where that came from). It usually happened on Saturdays when it was my turn to clean the upstairs bathroom. I’d clean the sink especially well. Then I’d put the stopper in and fill the sink with clean, clear, cold water. And I stick my mouth (actually my whole face) in it and just drink and drink. I was a teenager, so it was a LOT of years ago. And I’ve wondered where it came from. Seeing someone stretch out over a steam in the Saturday Matinee? I don’t know… but I used to do that quite a bit: The King’s Drink.
I’ve ended up living in a few places where clean, safe water wasn’t readily available. (And sometimes in places where NO water was readily available). Once I wrote about how long it took to prepare a drink of water in Africa. It made me realize that perhaps my “sink drink” really WAS “fit for a king.”
So what am I getting at? I’ve been thinking about people who are thirsty. I’ve been remembering that in some places where I lived – where people had to haul their water from wells or streams – it may be true that few were ever able to drink all the wanted, even of water which wasn’t clean and safe. But I’ve also been thinking about the MILLIONS of refugees who no longer have homes. What happens when THEY get thirsty? I wish I could remember more specifically how the refugees in the camp in Thailand which I visited 35 plus years ago got their water. I think a water truck came around, and the people lined up to fill whatever kind of container they had available.
It’s not a pleasant feeling to be thirsty, especially when there’s no water anywhere close (or anywhere at all).
So I’ve been thinking about Matthew 25:34-40. For many, many years I’ve thought and thought about what the Savior teaches. I’ve always called it “The INASMUCH principle.” The Savior describes a sampling of situations in which He’s been ministered to by others; it’s only a sample, because it would probably take up too much space to list “everything.” But He includes “I was thirsty….” He also shared that He was hungry, sick, naked, imprisoned, and those to whom He was speaking had responded. They didn’t remember having done things for Him – the things He described. And so He taught them about “INASMUCH.” They had been kind, and it was not just that they had done something “FOR” Him (trying to be good disciples, good Christians, Good Samaritans, etc.). It was as if they had done something TO Him… it was as though they had given HIM meat, and had given HIM something to drink….
The words have such deep meanings… layers of meanings. To be thirsty and hungry includes a desire and longing (often for spiritual food and drink – for light and truth – as missionaries and parents and others know). To be naked is to lack protection and defense (among other meanings). I’m getting “long” here, so I won’t go into more detail about meanings. I don’t especially like reading the last part (after verse 40) where there is an opposite “reward” for those who don’t respond – who don’t reach out to Him in [as Mother Teresa put it] “His distressing disguise.”
Maybe I’ve been thinking about this partly because of the thousands of gallons of water being WASTED … pumped out from under my home and running down the street … there are millions of people THIRSTY… and this clean, clear water disappears down the street unused . . . . Wow does that BOTHER me… bother my soul!
I know I’ve talked about some of this before – like about reaching out to do something kind for refugees. (If only I could send them the water!!). We do what we can. Maybe we increase our donation to Fast Offering, to humanitarian efforts or other helpful agencies and programs. Maybe we’re in a position to do many, many more things.
Then I’ve thought of those who are hungry for light and thirsty for truth, those who feel lonely and don’t know quite why. It’s as if there is a longing – as if they feel that something is missing. I think of those who are naked with no one to protect them or respond to their need for a safe place. And yes, we can do something about these needs through our example, through our kindness and compassion, through our courage to open our mouth and share something that is true … which might give the Holy Ghost a chance to have it sound/feel FAMILIAR to whoever is listening. Let’s do what we can. The list is very, very long. I know YOU (yes, YOU reading this right now) have done and are continuing to do kind, amazing, beautiful things, and some day when He says “INASMUCH,” He will look at YOU, and He’ll smile . . . .