**** This is an excerpt from “Captivated Anew: Restored to Pursue Him” published in 2009:

Ever eaten homemade honey—the kind with the honeycomb still in it? Nothing is so delicious. It is pure, simple, and satisfying. 

Living near the Great Smokey Mountains has its advantages. Years ago I took day trips to those beautiful hills to enjoy the grandeur of God’s creation. With a blanket, a picnic lunch, and my Bible, I sat next to a babbling brook and sensed the Holy Spirit’s presence in a unique way. Maybe it was the evidence of God’s greatness in creation or maybe it was escaping the frenetic pace and complexity of the world we reside in, but I know that I found incredible peace during those times.  

One of the biggest treats that I indulged in on these adventures was a planned stop at the local beekeeper’s shanty. In a remote and pastoral slice of Heaven that was as picturesque as a postcard, an elderly beekeeper lived amidst a hubcap collection and beehives. I don’t remember his name, and maybe I never knew it, but I will never forget him. The man was born and raised on that same piece of land and annually bottled the finest honey I ever consumed. Each year as I purchased the delicacy, I’d stop to rock in the chairs on his porch and chat with the man who seemed to live in overalls with a whittling stick in his hands. How he loved to share stories that were a treasure of wisdom and insight! 

The beekeeper had never been formally educated, owned a car, or had health insurance. He had only been to “the big city” (Maryville) three times in his life. But all he needed was right there in the woods. He bartered with and borrowed from his neighbors for necessities and could literally walk to his “House of Worship”—a grove of poplars and chestnut trees that spread their branches toward Heaven. The beekeeper, it seemed, was as pure and untainted as his honey. He didn’t see anything in modern society and its busyness that would bring him lasting satisfaction. For that reason, he epitomized simplicity. He was the picture of peace. I don’t remember much of what he said during our visits, but I know that he oozed contentment. The source of his uncommon satisfaction came from his Savior. Clearly, Jesus Christ was all that he really needed. 

The beekeeper is gone now. I stopped by once and his wife sweetly said that he was too ill to chat, but they did have some honey for sale. The next trip she met me at the door and matter-of-factly stated, “He’s now in eternal joy, and I’m not far behind.” On my final visit, the woman just gave me the honey: three jars. “Storing up treasures in Heaven,” she said.  

As I journeyed on to my place of refuge to seek after God, I left with the distinct impression that the rural beekeeper knew what life was really all about. In retrospect, he reminds me of another honey fanatic, John the Baptist: “John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3:4). Unspoiled by the emptiness and misery of his own society, John paved the way for the One by preaching the simple truths that so confounded his own people. Ancient Rome thought John a lunatic, but he really held the right answer to life’s problems in his rudimentary methodology and message: “Make straight the way for the Lord (John 1:23). Through his preaching and even through his simplicity, John pointed to the incarnate Word (John 1:1) that was “not of this world” (John 8:23). 

That Word of whom John spoke is Jesus. His teachings are not of this world, but they are supernatural, pure, and satisfying truth. His words call us out of the world into His undefiled, untainted, and infinite beauty. His words give us meaning, purpose, and satisfaction that contrast with this world’s superficial deceptions, self-absorption, shallow reality, and dangerous lies. Christ’s perfect words tell us of the ultimate pursuit: eternal joy in Him. His truths tell us that, in the end, life isn’t all about us and our “stuff.” Instead, life is all about Him and the Word that tastes so pleasing and so satisfies our souls. I agree with the psalmist: “How sweet are your words to my taste, [Oh, Lord,] sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm 119:103)! 

The beekeeper knew that a life in Christ, one based on His Word, is sweet like honey. He found satisfaction and fulfillment in what Christ accomplished at Calvary and so do I. The beekeeper trusted in the Word and so do I. That is why I still keep those three jars of honey after so many years. Life is not about frenzied pursuits of this world but about the contentment and peace that only comes when we trust that the Lord’s sweet presence and words are truly all we need.

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