What compelled four thousand people to follow, listen, be with Jesus for three days inadequately prepared? I can only try to imagine the magnetic force he was to them and guess that they did not anticipate staying three days. I can easily imagine his “compassion for the crowd” with nothing to eat as he prepared to leave them.
I recall an instance of being inadequately prepared on a hike into the crater of a quiet volcano in Hawaii. Four of us started in the cool of the morning. A couple of hours in, we arrived at a shelter from the hot sun. Taking stock of our situation I realized that I had precious little water to complete this twelve-mile hike which included ascending a zig-zag trail up the wall of the crater. Then I heard a voice of a young woman, “I have more water than I need or want to carry. Could you use some?”
Not only did we now have the water we needed, as we made our way up the crater wall, we each hiked at our own pace. I was alone and noted that I felt fear. I kept my left hand on the mountainside and resisted looking to my right. The distance down was dizzying. A misstep could mean disaster. The girl, well prepared with a personal guide, became a presence as I proceeded, sometimes in front, then behind. Once again I learned the meaning in a phrase I’ve known always, “the Lord will provide.” The girl, who I remember as an angelic presence, cheered as I emerged at trail’s end.
“Extol the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy.”—Psalm 99:9