It’s summertime, and here in Southern California it begins to get rather hot. And I find myself thirsty a lot. I’ll get out and cycle 20 miles and come back parched. It makes me think of these psalm lines:
Like a deer that longs for springs of water,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, the living God:
when shall I come and stand before the face of God?
Psalm 42:1-2 (JB)
To what shall I compare the longing of my soul (he said with a Shakespearean accent)? It’s as basic and instinctive as thirst. A graceful deer won’t be graceful for long if it dies for lack of fresh water.
My problem is that I am not always aware that the deepest longings of my heart, my soul and even my body are really a desire for God. I sometimes make the mistake that my greatest desire is for something to put in my mouth, or my wallet, or my closet, or my garage, or even on my resume. But I really live because of my loving union with God in Christ. I live by drinking the water of God’s life.
And my thirst is specific. I am not thirsty to talk about God, think about God or especially debate about God. I thirst for the Living God. The Living God is here and now. Jesus is Emmanuel—God with me. He is not in a land long, long ago or far, far away. He is present in the wind that causes the palm fronds to sway outside my window. He is present in the beauty of Asian hibiscus blooms in my back yard.
I thirst to be in God’s presence. I long to see God’s face. I am tired of so much talking about God, strategizing about church, thinking about spiritual things. I am hungry for a vital encounter with the Living God. What more do I need than Him?
I can’t live long without food—weeks perhaps. I can’t live long without water—only a few days. I can’t live long without air—minutes at best. But I cannot live for a moment without You, Father. You are always with me, even when I have forgotten and let my longings be diverted to lesser things. And You are patient in loving me back to Yourself. It’s always Your kindness that draws me back. Enable me to find the deep satisfaction my soul longs for in You and You alone.
- In what ways are you hungry and thirsty these days? What do you find yourself longing for?
- In what way is this, at its root, a longing for God? Think about this question prayerfully, asking God for discernment and guidance.
Alan Fadling serves as a frequent speaker, consultant and retreat leader with local churches and national organizations such as InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Halftime Institute, Apprentice Institute, Saddleback Church, and Open Doors International. He speaks from the intersection of spiritual formation and leadership, with content that is approachable, usable and transferable.
For more information about his ministry, visit him and his wife, Gem, at www.unhurriedliving.com.
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