WHEN ALL OF THAT STILL AINT ENOUGH
Psalm 42:1-4 (NKJV)
As the deer pants for the water brooks so pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God. When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my food day and night. While they continually say to me “Where is your God?” When I remember these things I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.
This particular Psalm is one of my favorites. I can visualize the deer with an overwhelming innate desire to consume of the life-giving source. It’s a beautiful picture. What then when I once found myself in this same state of longing for Living Water but didn’t understand it? I was “in church” every week, in the sanctuary for devotion, Sunday morning service at 8:00 and 11:00, in Wednesday night Bible study, Sunday School and small group. I passed out tracts, served the sick, the poor, visited those in prison and anyplace else and even went to an extra small group. Doing and going to the point of exhaustion and still longing while asking: God where are You? Don’t You see me doing all of this?
Unfortunately, there is no way around it if we are honest, this is often what the church (often unintentionally) teaches and promotes as fulfillment, proof of allegiance and sincere faith. When eventually I found myself living in drought amongst people who have the river of life flowing within, God lead me to this psalm. There is a longing and thirsting that can only be quenched by sitting in God’s presence and allowing God’s peace to calm us. There is an intense desire to be close to the One who loves with reckless abandon and makes us smile, laugh and dance with exuberant joy, even in times of distress. That does not come from going and doing but by relationship only.
As I pondered the psalmist’s contemplative words and applied them to our modern day context, it is then that I concluded that the longing to gather was about gathering with persons of like-mind and heart. At its core about offering the sacrifice of praise and true worship in God’s presence where there is safety and fullness of joy. I stopped going and doing to try to find relief and began sitting and listening, praying and journaling, reading and thinking and sometimes crying and asking questions all with God as my only audience. It was then that my soul was no longer cast down. It was then that I re-discovered rest and encouraged myself to hope in God and yet praise the help of my countenance.