As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11.)
Casting Bottles and Balloons
Did you ever put a note in a bottle and toss it in the ocean? I grew up on the California coast, just south of San Francisco, and we tossed a lot of stuff into the water – rocks, sand, half-eaten hot dogs that had fallen in the rocks and sand – but I never tried the note in a bottle thing.
Since I was a kid, there’s been a variation on the bottle and note: now kids can use helium-filled balloons.* Only six years old, and one little English schoolboy has accomplished something many adults would envy. His balloon traveled over 10,000 miles to land in Australia, where it got caught in a tree. The finder wrote him:
“Hi, my name is Millie and I found your balloon in a tree in my back garden. I am very excited and pleased to send it back.”
The boy was excited too, and promised to write her. The start of a corresponding friendship? You never can tell.
Casting Bread and Fruit
The Bible talks of casting bread on water, a concept I’ve found odd because, as I said, when I was a kid we’d toss half eaten hot dogs and their buns into the ocean and I can tell you from experience that no one wants to eat one of those after that. Still, here’s how Ecclesiastes 11:1 reads in the King James Version:
Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.
Yep, it’s Scriptural. Throw bread into water. Perhaps another translation will shed some light on the subject. Here it is in the NIV:
Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return.
So this is investment advice? It sounds pretty speculative with that word “may”. The KJV was a lot more confident, with its “shall” right there in the middle of the verse.
Most commentators I’ve read say that it’s either actual wisdom about how to handle your capital or it uses the metaphor of Solomon’s seafaring enterprises to explain how using your resources for God will bring a return in God’s kingdom, either by serving God or serving the people God has put in your life.
For us today, I think it’s spiritual investment advice with a guaranteed return. We may not see the return but we can be sure that when we abide in Christ and serve God he will always use it to build his kingdom. As Jesus said in John 15: he produces fruit in us; we are the ones he has chosen to bear that fruit for him; he is the Vine, and we are the branches on that Vine.
Hmm, how did I get from bread to fruit of the vine? That seems to happen when you’re talking about Jesus. (1 Corinthians 11.) He’s the Bread of Heaven. (John 6:32-35.) His blood is the Wine of the New Covenant. (Luke 22:20.) His body and blood are real food and real drink, more real than any we eat at the dinner table because these are the stuff of eternal life. (John 6:53-57.)
So cast bread, bear fruit, share the eternal meal that is Jesus’ body and blood, broken and shed for you.
That’s an investment with guaranteed returns.
*They must have invented helium after I was a kid, because we sure didn’t have those types of balloons back in the ’60s. No sir, we had to blow up balloons with the plain old air we breathed. None of that fancy stuff these kids get to use today. Why, back in my day we were lucky even to get a balloon. If we didn’t have a balloon, we’d blow up a paper sack, tie it to a string, and drag it on the ground behind us. These whippersnappers today don’t know how good they got it. Helium, harrumph!