Have you ever wondered why a camel has humps on it’s back? Well, I don’t normally stay up at night wondering why a camel is shaped the way it is, but if somehow the shape of a camel is brought to my attention, folks, I can’t help it, my insatiable curiousity has to find out why a camel has humps on its back. Now that I have made this discovery, I thought I’d share it with you.
Camels are really one of the most unique creatures that God has made. For example, their mouths have an extremely thick skin that even cactus needles can’t puncture. And they can and will eat almost anything that they can find in the desert, including cactus plants. And camels can drink up to 30 gallons of water at one time, and they don’t even listen to the water lectures on 3ABN. Smart animals! And they’re not only smart animals, but they are all put into just the right package that God knew they needed. Way out in the wilderness of the desert where all you can find is sand, camels have to depend on the food that they have stored away, and that food is stored in those humps on its back. A lot of other animals have a thin layer of fat under their entire layer of skin, but camels don’t. Their bodies only store their fat in the humps on their backs. And that hump can way up to eighty pounds. But this big hump of fat serves a good purpose because the camel’s body can break it down and use it for food and water when they find themselves in a big desert that has nothing but sand. And studies have shown that the camel can go for several days, even weeks without any food or water because of the humps on their backs. And folks, we can learn something from the camel.
We may not have humps on our backs, but we sure have something much better than a computer sitting on our shoulders, and we are instructed in God’s Word to store up good things in our computers so that when we find ourselves in a desert experience that we’ll have all the nourishment that we need to prosper. And what God tells us to store up may surprise you. In 1 Timothy 6:17 God says “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds and to be generous and willing to share. (Now here’s the camel part) In this way they will lay up or store treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age so that they may take hold of the life that is truly Life.” So God is saying “Do you want to take hold of the life that is really life? A life that will sustain you even during the dry desert experiences of your life?” Then He says “Put your hope in God and not in your wealth. He says “do good, be rich in good deeds and be generous.” In other words, He’s saying have compassion and a genuine concern for your fellow man. And when we do this He says we’re not only preparing to be heavenly inhabitants, but right here, right now on this earth we’re going to experience the life that is really LIFE. And folks, really, is there anything else?
Pierre Renoir was a great French painter who lived a long time ago whose paintings are extremely valuable and considered great works of art today. When Renoir was an old man he suffered from arthritis which crippled and cramped his hands but he still painted anyway. Henry Matisse was an artist and a friend of Renoir’s and one day he saw Renoir painting, holding the paint-brush in a twisted sort of way because his hands were so crippled, and he was so amazed that he would paint when each stroke of the brush caused him so much pain. So he asked him “Why do you still paint when it causes you so much pain?” Renoir said “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.” That’s an awesome thought... the pain passes, but the beauty remains.
I think if each of us had the opportunity today to talk to the many martyrs who died for their faith and we asked each of them why they gave the ultimate sacrifice, somehow I think they would all say “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.” And I think if we had the opportunity to speak with missionaries today who live in areas of the world where there is no electricity or running water and where the work is very difficult and slow in spreading the gospel to heathen nations, and we could ask them “Why do you do it?” I really believe they all would say, “The pain passes but the beauty remains.” And if we could talk to those hard-working pastors and teachers and colporters and student missionaries and those who pour their blood, sweat and tears into the gospel commission, and we asked them “Why do you do it?” I think they’d all say “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”
Jesus said in Luke 9:23 “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Crosses come in all different sizes and shapes and let’s be honest, a cross is not a comfortable thing, sometimes crosses are heavy and they make blisters, not only on the body, but the heart. But when we are carrying that cross for Jesus, He brings out a lot of beautiful things out of them. The gospel commission itself is a cross, because the principles of the gospel are opposite from the principles of the world. But consider this, when we get to heaven never again will we have the privilege of suffering for Christ’s sake. Never again will we have the opportunity to pour out our blood, sweat and tears in an evangelistic effort. Never again will we be able to praise God inspite of the pain and hurt we have, and never will we be able to show the universe that God even means more to us than the most intense sacrifice. So that still, small voice whispers to us today, “Will you take up your cross and follow me today?”