Longing for God
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for the living God. (Psalm 42:1-2; read Psalm 42 in its entirety.)
God is passionate and wants us to be passionate in our quest for relationship with our Creator. In today’s Psalm, the author yearns for an encounter with God. He wants the refreshment of a personal relationship with his Parent and Creator. He wants God to come alive for him once again.
In a difficult time of tears and struggle, the Psalmist wants to experience God as an intimate companion. Life is challenging, and his spirit is dry, but he has “hope in God; for again, I shall praise God, my help and my God.” He’s in trouble, and knows his only hope is an encounter with God.
One of my consistent textbooks for my Wesley Theological Seminary course in spiritual autobiography is Renita Weems’ “Listening for God.” Noted preacher, Hebrew Bible scholar, and the first African American woman to give Yale’s Lyman Beecher Lecture, Weems describes a period of spiritual dryness in which she is unable to conjure an experience of God. Still, she keeps on preaching and praying, knowing that these rituals will keep her going until God comes alive for her again. Weems, like the Psalmist, recognizes that even when you can’t feel God’s nearness, you can keep on praying in the same way that you keep loving and acting loving toward your children and grandchildren, and even your spouse, when your heart may not be in it.
Mother Teresa dealt with spiritual darkness for nearly three decades. Yet she continued to serve the poor, seeing God in disguise. She recognized that faith is more than feeling, it is trust in God in darkness and light.
Our prayers in dry times reflect our commitment to be open to God’s presence so that we will be ready when God comes alive for us.
In this time of pandemic, we may feel spiritually dry. We may miss the fellowship of public worship at church. Yet, keep praying, keep yearning, keep caring, and God will come alive for you once again.
Help me, O God, to say connected with you even in spiritually dry times. Remind me that even in your “absence,” you are an everpresent source of help, carrying me when I can’t carry myself. Amen.