Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A Dry & Weary Land

O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Ps 63:1

The imagery on Psalm 63:1 is so vivid that it really needs very little explanation. When I am thirsty, I can think of nothing but drinking water. The thirstier I am, the more desperate I am for it. But when I am not thirsty, when my body is nice and hydrated, I seldom spare a thought for water. And so this psalm is, more than anything else, about the fact that God is missing from the psalmist's life. Yet the Psalmist notes what's missing at the core of her or his being.

This, I think, is affirmation of two things:
  • First, that there are times in a believer's life when we do not feel God's presence. Whether this is a good thing or not, I won't say. But it's a simple fact. There is no reason to beat ourselves up over something that the Bible describes in such vivid terms as being part of the human condition. The psalmist—probably David himself—also felt this way. It's okay—the most important thing here is that I've noticed it and I'm willing to be open to change.
  • And second, that just as the believer sometimes feels outside God's presence, God has planted within us a thirst for God such as the parched body feels toward water. I cannot speak for the non-believer, but I have yet to meet a person of faith who did not love God when God was close, and long for God when God seemed far off.
Great are you, O Lord, and greatly to be praised; great is your power, and of your wisdom there is no end. And I, being a part of your creation, desire to praise you—I, who bear about with myself my own mortality, the witness of my sin. Yet I desire to praise you—you move me to delight in praising you; for you have made me for yourself, and my heart is restless until it rest in you. Amen.
Augustine of Hippo