Day 4 Psalm 42:1-11
I was at a local park where people filled the walkways and crowded around the various booths set up for the art festival. The noise from the various groups performing and the chatter of the crowd filled the air. Suddenly, one voice pierced the cacophony and drew the attention of several people. It came from a young girl, maybe three or four years old. She had become separated from her mother and the fear and longing in her voice was evident.
“I want my mommy!” She cried repeatedly. Quickly surrounded by strangers who wanted to help, her cries only became more frantic until she saw a familiar face through the crowd and heard the voice of her mother. She continued to sob as her mother picked her up, but there was no longer a trace of fear or longing. She was in her mother’s arms and everything was alright.
If that little girl had been playing in her own backyard surrounded by familiar things, she would not have felt the immediate need for her mother. In fact, as long as she was comfortable and preoccupied with other activities, she may not even have given her mother a second thought. It was only when things became fearful and unfamiliar that her desire for her mother’s presence was aroused.
Isn’t this how it often is with us and God? If things are going smoothly and our time is occupied with other things, we may not give God much thought. However, when we are facing a major problem or feel threatened, we may cry out to God just as that little girl cried for her mother.
There may be a little of this in the psalmist’s voice in Psalm 42. His longing for God together with his tears seems to flow from anxiety from being separated from God. Those asking him “where is your God” seem to mock him and cause his desire for God’s presence to increase. It reminds the psalmist of a time when he “used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.” Whether he had stopped going to the house of God or the circumstances when he went had changed, a longing for how it used to be was renewed.
Our longing for God’s presence may ebb and flow, but the Lord’s desire to be with us never does. He doesn’t want us to seek Him only when we are in trouble or afraid. He wants us to want to be with Him always. As a parent, I am never happier than when all my daughters are home with me. Just being with them brings me joy. And that is how it is with God. When we are fully present with Him, it brings God joy!
Joseph Stowell, former president of Moody Bible Institute and current president of Cornerstone University, has written:
“Some of us would say, theologically speaking, we are never alone. We believe God’s presence is an entitlement bought by our redemptive transaction with Him. I concede the point. But that is just the point. Unlike the psalmist, we view God as a bag of tricks into which we can reach when life demands it. It’s not that we don’t relate to God at certain points. We are pleased to belong to God and to serve Him as opportunities arise. We are glad to obey God and live for Him. But to long for God seems not to be in our spiritual repertoire. We have learned to be busy for God without needing Him so deeply that we can’t get enough of Him.
“Yet not getting enough of Him is what belonging to Him is all about. To uncover and listen afresh to this call of our souls should be the focused pursuit of our lives. We can be positionally connected to Him and His resources but functionally alone in the ongoing experience of life. Then, when we suddenly need Him (though in reality He is always there and available), we find that because we have not cultivated an ongoing relationship with Him we don’t know how to connect with Him and experience His support. We feel the sense of isolation and helplessness that is at the heart of aloneness. [Joseph M. Stowell, Radical Reliance, (Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers., 2006), 44]
Are you, as Joseph Stowell put it, “getting enough of God?” How attuned are you to His presence throughout the day? He has promised never to leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). Can you say the same of Him? Don’t wait to seek God until you think you need Him. Today and every day, purposefully rest in His presence and share life with Him.