Thursday, March 11, 2010

Longing for the Presence of God

From Psalm 42

As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
‘Where is your God?’

These things I remember,
as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng,
and led them in procession to the house of God,
with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival...
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you...
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.

I say to God, my rock,
‘Why have you forgotten me? adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me..
‘Where is your God?’

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God.

In 1984 Martin Nystrom took the words of this psalm and put them to music:

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after Thee
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship Thee

For more than 20 years, this simple song has been one of the most popular in the praise and worship genre. It seems that a longing for connection with God is a somewhat common experience. Reading today's passage, I was struck with this particular question, "When shall I...behold the face of God?"

The psalmist recalls happier days, days of joy, celebration, and exuberant worship. Reading these emotion-packed words, one can sense the tumult in the writer's heart--longing and despair compete with hope, frustration, unanswered questions, loneliness, and once again he returns to hope and a determination not to give up on God.

Can you relate? I certainly can.

This Psalm reminds me of the time when Jesus was speaking of eating his body and drinking his blood--one of the numerous metaphors Jesus used. Many took him literally and became upset.

John 6:66-69
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Where indeed? Join me today in seeking God's presence. We can find him in scripture, in prayer, in the words of a book, in the care and embrace of a loved one. And sometimes God shows up at the most surprising moments and unexpected places! Some of you may have heard my workshop on "God's Presence" where I share a story how God met me in a profound way while I was watching the movie "Rocky." God will use many things! Watch for them.

Thank You, Gracious God, for times when I can’t handle life’s challenges on my own. In these times, as much as a part of me hates them, I am compelled to recall how much I need You. These are the times when my soul most longs for you. Without your sustaining grace my soul would be parched. You alone can satisfy, refresh, and renew me. When I am actually aware of the presence of your Spirit--ah, these are wonderful times. But I will not give up, and I will not turn back, even if the wilderness in which I find myself stretches on. Amen

1 comment:

Jan said...

Amen. Thank you.