Listen to today’s devo!

Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate. (Mark 10:9)

Camping on a volcanic island wasn’t much fun. By day the tropical sun blazed down on the desolate landscape with no trees for shade. By night I huddled in my sleeping bag under the black sky as rain fell and turned the ashy sand beneath me to soot. The single consolation came at the end of a long hike through fiendishly flesh-slicing thorn bushes. In the middle of the island lay a lake. Weary, dirty, sweaty, thorn-slashed, I splashed in for a swim. The lake had a rotten-egg smell from a high sulfuric content. As I swam, I discovered my cuts closing up almost instantaneously! The sulfur was healing me! In the midst of this forbidding island, I found wholeness.

This week’s readings have been rather like that island: grim and rugged. Jesus warned against sin by using imagery of drowning, self-mutilation, hellfire, flavorless salt, hard hearts, and divorce as adultery. Maybe you feel like you’ve been on a long, soul-slicing hike through Scripture.

Here’s good news: a refreshing, healing lake lies at the heart of these readings. It’s Jesus’ vision of unity, of disciples—even children and the childlike—at peace together (see Mark 9:50) and marriages preserved whole (see Mark 10:6–9). His warnings are the harsh terrain that guards this lake of blessing. Look beyond the rocks and thorns; you’ll see it shimmering.

Remember the life-giving, soul-healing reasons behind God’s guidelines.

Jerome Van Kuiken is a missionary kid, a pastor’s kid, and dean of the school of ministry and Christian thought at Oklahoma Wesleyan University.

© 2020 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.