Not As Spirit Only — Around the Campfire…
When I was a young boy, I went on my first backpacking trip with Ken Wood, Clayton Cook and Joel Fife in the John Muir Wilderness along the Le Conte Divide. I will never forget that first day of hiking, 15 miles, about a 3000 foot elevation change, with probably 40 pounds on my back. We setup camp, and then went fishing in Fleming Lake, followed by a good washing in the nearby creek. I was tired and more ready for bed than anything else, but something else did come from the ministering hands and spirit of the good man who led us in our journey.
Brother Wood painstakingly prepared a meal from the fish we caught, a protein substitute called Vitaburger, and some Bisquick and butter he had brought along. After a long day expending all the energy we could muster, Ken provided for our physical needs, a memorable dinner that was as sweet to our taste as some of the best food we had ever eaten. Then, sitting around the embers of campfire in the night, filled and satisfied bodily, he talked to us about the things of God, the wonderful cathedral of nature which surrounded us, a ceiling of stars above our heads. He filled our spirits with the words of Christ, taking care of our needs in ways I had not before experienced. Truly, we felt fed by a servant of the Lord, as if the Lord had been there Himself to provide our nourishment, to our bodily and spiritual delight.
The veil drawn across our minds at birth does not allow us to understand what it was like to live without a physical body, but with all the joys of the sense of touch, and taste and smell, and even with the pains of injury, hunger and fatigue, as we felt after a long day of scaling mountains, I believe that it is preferable to have a body than to live as spirit only. An essential part of the good news that is the gospel of Jesus Christ is that in Him we will all receive our bodies again in the resurrection. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22). The Savior made a point in demonstrating this to His apostles and other disciples following His death and glorious resurrection.
Heartbroken, as we would be in the same circumstances, each of the disciples of Jesus awaited with hope lost in the crucified Lord, yet awaiting still for one more miracle, not understanding with full measure for that which they awaited. Then He came to each of them for to teach them of the resurrection. They heard His voice. They saw His face. They touched Him, feeling the nail marks in His hands and feet. He even asked for food and ate in front of them to teach them that in the resurrection our spirits and bodies reunite, never to be parted again.
When thinking about this scene I marvel, but I also giggle a little wondering if those witnesses of the resurrected Lord expected to see the food fall to the floor as soon as He put it in His mouth. I believe that is why He illustrated this to His friends in such a way. He really wanted these select witnesses to see for themselves, and then teach correctly of the resurrection to come for all. The piece of broiled fish and honeycomb He did eat before them, and it did not fall on the floor (Luke 24:42-43).
Is this not wonderful news that we will once again have our bodies that we might enjoy the sense of touch, taste and smell for always, but without the pains of age, injury, exhaustion or illness? “Oh Happy Day!” What a grand and glorious gift is the resurrection.
One of my favorite stories associated with newly resurrected Lord was His call to Peter to feed His lambs. What a beautiful scene that was on the shores of Galilee where they had all experienced so much. Jesus called to them while they were fishing. Peter, once he realized who was on shore waiting for them, could not wait for the boat to make its way to shore. He leaped overboard and swam to his Lord.
Then, imagine it, the Great Jehovah, Jesus Christ, the God of Heaven and Earth, the Creator of all we know, cooked His friends dinner there on the seashore. It makes my heart flutter and breath quicken to think of it. He heals the sick, walks on water, teaches eternal truth, commands the elements, creates worlds, raises the dead, atones for all mankind, washes feet and cooks dinner (John 21:12-13). Surely, “I Stand All Amazed” and weep all at once for the love of my Lord. He is my Shepherd indeed.
So after they ate, after He nourished their bodies, He taught them once again, He nourished their spirits, and most especially Peter, but He taught us all.
We read the account in John 21:15-17: “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?’ He saith unto Him, ‘Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.’ He saith unto him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ He saith to him again the second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?’ He saith unto Him, ‘Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.’ He saith unto him, ‘Feed my sheep.’ He saith unto him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?’ Peter was grieved because He said unto him the third time, ‘Lovest thou me?’ And he said unto Him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, ‘Feed my sheep.’”
The invitation extended to Peter is extended to all. As Elder Gary E. Stevenson taught, “Who is a shepherd? Every man, woman, and child in the kingdom of God is a shepherd. No calling is required. From the moment we emerge from the waters of baptism, we are commissioned to this work. We reach out in love to others because it is what our Savior commanded us to do. … Whenever our neighbors are in distress temporally or spiritually, we run to their aid. We bear one another’s burdens that they may be light. We mourn with those who mourn. We comfort those who stand in need of comfort. The Lord lovingly expects this of us. And the day will come when we will be held accountable for the care we take in ministering to His flock” (General Conference, October 2018).
On the shores of Fleming Lake, like unto Galilee, I felt like a precious lamb being fed by the shepherd and provided for in all needful things. I heard the pastoral voice so long ago, “Feed my sheep,” and so I too have led young men and women to do hard things, climbing over mountains, paddling rivers, forging trails and building character, then providing food and nourishment for their hungry and tired bodies. As the Lord provided a perfect setting for teaching His disciples, He sent me Ken Wood, and so I have followed their examples around campfires, feeding the lambs and sheep He has provided for me to nourish, in body and in word. Nothing is like those tender, spiritual moments spent after a long day of effort, and then sharing that physical and spiritual nourishment, provided as true followers of Christ give.
May we all show the grace, the gratitude, for the Savior who out of pure love has served us all. From saving our souls to providing us meat and Spirit for nourishment, He has truly provided for all whom His Father has given Him. Let us too feed His lambs a share of what He has given us. With a serving of fish, may we give them the hope that there is hope, and faith, and resurrection, and repentance, and life eternal, as He has given us. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.