Then he said, “Let me go for a short time to my friend.” They wondered how he had a friend there, where he had never been before. But he went to the church and, entering, threw himself on the pavement, and in a long prayer sought the protection of God, the source of all mercy. Immediately the bishop of the city went from his home to the church and, finding Columbanus, asked who he was. The latter said he was a pilgrim. The bishop answered, “If you need food, go to my house and take what you need.”
- Jonas, Life of St. Columban
Therefore let this principle abide with us, that on the road we so live as travelers, as pilgrims, as guests of the world, entangled by no lusts, longing with no earthly desires, but let us fill our minds with heavenly and spiritual impressions, singing with grace and power, When shall I come and appear before the face of my God?
- Columbanus, Sermon VIII
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
- Psalm 42.1, 2
On their journey to Italy, Columbanus and his company passed through the kingdom ruled by Theudebert (not Theuderich). They were warmly welcomed, and the king implored Columbanus to stay and minister among them for a while. He promised to give him and his company free reign to do the work of the Gospel, and he offered them a royal facility in another part of the kingdom for their base.
As they traveled down the Rhine toward their assigned place, the men, who had been fasting for several days, became hungry. One of the oarsmen said he knew the area and would happily go and collect food for them. However, he was unsuccessful in his mission.
Then follows the quote from Jonas, cited above. Columbanus committed the situation to the Lord, Who moved the local bishop to help. The Lord supplied the needs of His servants literally out of His holy sanctuary (Ps. 20.1, 2). By this divine intervention, all were fed and sheltered at this stop in their journey.
I think it was important that the oarsman should not succeed in his mission to secure food for the company. The men with Columbanus needed to trust in God for the long journey ahead of them, and for everything else in their lives as well. People will let us down. Situations collapse into a heap. Jobs get lost. Stocks and bonds sink. And all the best laid plans of mice and men…well, you know.
But God never fails us, never forsakes us, never abandons us in our times of need. If we hunger and thirst for the Lord, He will satisfy all our hunger and thirst of every kind by giving us more of Himself. If we look to the situations and circumstances of our lives for our sense of wellbeing, we’re likely to be disappointed. We need to “fill our minds with heavenly impressions,” and resort often to prayer, casting all our burdens on the Lord, because He cares for us.
There is power in prayer. But the power of prayer is the power to bring us before the Lord of glory. He can do everything else. In prayer, as we commune with God, we satisfy our hunger and thirst for righteousness and for strength to fulfill our calling to the Kingdom and glory of God (1 Thess. 2.12). As we pray, we acknowledge that God alone can meet our needs. Only God can satisfy us, no matter how well-placed or self-sufficient we may seem. All our provision comes from God, Who teaches us to pray for our daily bread, daily. He will prove Himself faithful and sufficient for our every need, but we must come earnestly and often to Him.
Life in the Spirit affects everything we do in life, even down to meeting our daily needs. We will know more of joy, power, and boldness in our witness for the Lord as we devote more of our time to seeking the Lord in prayer. Our Father already knows what we need, even before we ask. And He knows that what we need most is to be in His presence, to shelter in His glory and be renewed in our relationship with Him. This is what we can do to tap into the infinite resources and goodness of God. If we will do this, God will do whatever is in our best interests for fulfilling our Kingdom-and-glory calling for that day.
So why not draw aside a little more frequently to meet with your Friend – the One Who sticks closer than a brother and Who is faithful to His every word of promise?
Psalm 42.1-5 (Nettleton: Come Thou Fount)
As the deer pants for fresh water let my soul, Lord, pant for You!
Let my soul thirst as it ought to for the Savior, ever true!
Tears by day have been my portion, tears by night have been my food,
While my foes add to my sorrow, saying, “Where now is your God?”
Now I pour my soul out in me as these thoughts come to my mind.
And I long to once again be where true worship I might find.
Oh my soul, be not despairing! Hope in God, and praise His Name!
For the Lord, your burden bearing, will restore your peace again.
Thank You, Lord, that I can come to You and count on You as I…
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.