Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Soul Thirst

"O God, you are my God, early in the morning I will seek you; 
my soul is thirsty for you, my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land, 
where no water is, to see our power and your glory, as I have see you
 in the sanctuary. Because your loving-kindness is better than life, 
my lips shall praise you. Thus, will I bless you while I live 
I will lift up my hand in your name. My soul shall be satisfied 
as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips, 
when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the night watches."
Psalm 63:1-5

It is my desire to have a heart fully devoted to Christ. Yet, sometimes as I read how the prophets, David, Paul and others mentioned in the Bible were satisfied by their relationship with Christ I sense there is something missing in my relationship with Him. The feelings described in this passage are more in line with my emotions at times–emptiness, restlessness, loneliness, uneasiness, discontentment, or dissatisfaction. I think in my tendency to judge myself harshly, I tend to misinterpret what those feelings mean. After all, God created me to need to have a relationship with Him. When I forget that, I know it is easy to turn to worldly things to have those needs met. The "instant" society in which I live stirs up such a strong desire to have instant relief for uncomfortable feelings I experience. I don’t even realize sometimes it is God I am so desperately hungry or thirsty for. When I begin to grasp my deepest need is God, then I need to accept the desire for instant, forever satisfied feeling isn’t going to happen. As I am writing this, I realize what they penned was what they experienced and I know from reading David’s writings he felt both the hunger and the satisfaction. The question to be answered is: “How are we filled in our relationship with God to the point of satisfaction?”

Today’s passage gives us some answers for that question. The first thing David did in the morning was proclaim God is His God and then He went about His day looking for Him. There is something powerful about taking that ownership of his God. It makes it personal. It makes it real. He didn't see God as some lofty being high in the heavens God. David knew the things of the world would not satisfy him and he longed to see God's glory as he had in that past. It is the same way I feel when I think of mountain top experiences in which I was so filled with His love I was overwhelmed, when I was being gently convicted of sin by His Sweet spirit, when I was being blessed by someone’s words that were words I needed to hear. when God answered prayer so specifically it showed both His power and His intimate involvement in my life. I also see His glory through the scriptures or when I see His image in others. It is important to realize God is not just at church, at camp, at retreats, or on mission trips--He is in my every day mundane life.

The times I find it the hardest to realize I am thirsty for God is when I feel discontent, lonely, or anxious. It's easy to look at what is visible to figure out what I need, than to go to the invisible things that touch my heart. Yet, that is when it is most important for me to declare that He is MY GOD! He is found even in the mundane–in changed attitudes, Christian fellowship, exchanges with friends, in trials, and small spiritual victories.

I will be filled if I greet God every morning with Praise. I so often overlook His loving-kindness, but His mercies are new every day. As I declare His praises, I defeat the enemy who wants me to neglect my relationship with God to live in a state of half way believing God. If I praise Him for His holiness, I will be less likely to play with sin and develop an ever growing desire to be holy like He is. If I praise Him for His love, I won't believe I am not loved or accepted. If I praise Him for His mercy, I won't think God can't forgive me when I confess sin. If I praise Him for His strength, I will let His strength overcome my weaknesses and develop a special intimacy that comes with depending on Him in times of temptation.

If I praise Him for His creativity, I will seek to be more creative in the things that I do. It is important to understand God’s gift of appetites that need a daily filling are a gift. I used to feel so sinful if I felt satisfied one day and not the next. He wants us daily to seek Him daily and He daily wants to fill us. It is possible that when He fills me and I feel satisfied today, that He truly meant that filling to be only for today and that it is so I will approach Him with my hungry heart tomorrow! It isn’t a sign of defective Christianity, it is a sign of humility to recognize my humanness and go to Him daily.

Finally, the last part of the passage is David claiming his soul will be satisfied and he will praise God with JOY! We need to notice why that is possible. Whether David went to bed or stayed up for some reason He meditated on the Lord. I know I would benefit from trying to meditate on Him and His word before I go to sleep. This equates to putting the "mind of Christ" in my mind and then moving it to my heart by meditating on it. I would benefit in hard situations by asking myself how different scripture or God's character affect the situations. I can make the scriptures personal, by praying about what I read and how it affects me personally and having a two way conversation with God. If I would take the time to ask myself questions and take the time to thoughtfully answer them it would help. For example, “What does it mean to you personally to be a child of God? As you answer it, think of His character and the things of the scripture that you know. What does it mean that you are one of His sheep and that He is the good shepherd? If I don’t know much about shepherding, would it help to do a word study or read about the occupation of being a shepherd?”

Sometimes I have an unfulfilling relationship with God, because I don't think what I have read or about the Lord Himself. It is no different than having a human friendship become estranged because I don't spend time nurturing or appreciating it. Relationships can be transformed with a commitment to love, appreciate, and relate to each other on a consistent basis…the same is true with my relationship with God. Now in closing, let me ask you what is the last thing you think about before you go to bed and the first thing that you think about when you wake up? What is it you are truly hungry or thirsty for? I hope that the answer is to see the glory and power of God and to have Him be the one who satisfies your deepest needs…anything less will be counterfeit. Can you hear Him calling you? Can you see His open arms? Can you hear the love song He is singing over you?

Prayer: Father, there are times when life is truly like being in the middle of a desert. We are so thirsty for You and don't even recognize the thirst for what it is. We keep reaching for something and don't ever feel satisfied. You are the one who created us and You know our deepest need. Help us to trust you to meet each need abundantly. Draw our thoughts and our hearts toward You when we first rise up and when we are lying down to sleep. We praise You for You are life. You are Holy. You are loving. You are kind. You are our God and we declare Your name unashamed! Teach us to sit at your feet and let you fill our needs. Forgive us for looking to things in this world to meet a need only you can meet! Amen.

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!